Malaysia To Play Host For PUBG Mobile Club Open 2019 Fall Split Global Finals

Tencent recently announced that the PUBG Mobile Club Open (PMCO) 2019 Fall Split Global Finals tournament will be hosted in Malaysia. The announcement was made just before the SEA Games eSports athletes flag-off ceremony at LEVEL UP Play 2019.
The PMCO tournament will be held at Putra World Trade Center (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur later this year. The tournament will host a total of 16 teams from 10 different regions to compete for a total prize pool of US$2.5 million (~RM10.3 million). Further, the tournament will be sponsored by Vivo.

The tickets are now available for purchase at a price starting from RM20 for each day, or if you are attending all three days, you may purchase the season ticket for a price starting from RM51. However, it is important to note that the price for seats gradually increase as you get closer to the stage.
It is also worth noting that local team Yoodo Gank will be representing the nation in the PMCO Global Finals. Previously, Yoodo Gank has secured a direct invite to the tournament after emerging as the best Malaysian team in the PMCO: SEA League.

To provide a sense of the magnitude of PUBG Mobile, Tencent revealed that the game has been downloaded more than 400 million times with an average of 50 million daily players. The PUBG Mobile Club Open (PMCO) 2019 Fall Split Global Finals tournament will commence on 29 November to 1 December 2019.
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Apple May Unveil 16-Inch MacBook Pro This Week; Will Come With New Keyboard

Talk about flipping the script. It was only yesterday that reports of the 16-inch MacBook Pro being in production surfaced. New reports today points at Apple releasing the laptop as early as this week.
Bloomberg reports that the new MacBook Pro will replace the current 15-inch model. This display up-size may also be a permanent change, and the company will likely phase out the current, slightly smaller one. It’s also expected to have around the same starting price as the 15-inch MacBook Pro, which is RM10499 locally.
For what it’s worth, the new report also says that the 16-inch MacBook Pro will have a more reliable keyboard. This likely means that Apple is really moving away from its Butterfly switches, and adopting scissor switches instead.

Interestingly, Apple has another launch in store for the year of 2019. Bloomberg’s report states that the company plans to release the new Mac Pro desktop in December. Unfortunately, that is as specific as the timeframe gets.
At any rate, this is a very sudden change in tone compared to what Forbes reported yesterday. If it will indeed be as soon as this week, then it’s another dose of unexpected good news for those who were looking forward to the new 16-inch MacBook Pro.
(Source: Bloomberg)
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Here Are Some Game Developers You May Have Missed Out At LEVEL UP Play 2019

When it comes to gaming, we often see the mainstream gaming market. Sometimes, however, some of us do shift focus to indie games as well. We have covered some of our local game developers, but we must also not forget about the other local smaller start-ups game makers.
King’s League II
The first of many titles we saw there were King’s League II, an indie RPG and Simulation game which revolves a young brave knight battling through his king’s league, building up his guild’s reputation. The game recently became available on Steam at a price of RM29.90. Additionally, the game is also available on Apple Arcade.
Even though the game is made using the Unity engine, we have found that the game is very well polished in terms of graphics and gameplay. King’s League II is made by Kurechii based in Cyberjaya.
Zombie Friends Idle

Up next, we have Zombie Friends Idle, a clicker-based game laced with a touch of Malaysian locality. Like all clicker-based titles, you may click or tap in order to “attack the enemies” and deploy passive troops that attack for you but at a slower rate.
In-game, it features zombies who throw nasi lemak at you, a zombie “Makcik” with sandals, as well as a zombie lady with a Southeast Asian “congkak” board. For the power-ups, you can mix and match different cards in certain shapes for an additional boost.
Zombie Friends Idle is available for free on Google Play and soon to be on the App Store, developed by Xhinobi Studio based in Bangsar South.
Tap Master

Tap Master is pretty much a blast from the past sort of game; it’s a mobile arcade game inspired by the classic Bishi Bashi arcade games. In case you didn’t know, Bishi Bashi is a three-button arcade game that was available on the original PlayStation and arcade cabinets.
In Tap Master, there are currently up to 25 arcade games including a one-button masher game, timer-based maths questions, and reaction-based mini-games. The game is available on Google Play and is made by Enidea based in SS2, Petaling Jaya. The developers at Enidea also told us that they are planning to add a multiplayer mode and port the game to the App Store in the future.
Zombie Soup

The next indie game we found was Zombie Soup, a top-down zombie shooter made by Aeonsparx Interactive and features a large collection of weapons to choose from. Currently, the game is still in development, but it has been listed on Steam to be released in 2020 with no pricing yet. On the other hand, the game is currently planned for a single-player mode only.
Alfend District

Games may not just be purely entertainment only, rather we have found a business edutainment game called Alfend District. The game is made by N2W Corporate, a company based in Cyberjaya. According to the developers, the game itself focuses on the four business cycles.
The game is slated for release in 2020 and will be available for free on both Google Play and App Store. As a Malaysian-made title, Alfend District also features references to local products.
Techninier

Lastly, we have Techninier, a mobile app developer based in Kuala Lumpur who showcased two mobile games. Starting with Super Jones, it is a casual endless mobile game where you dig for gems and avoid monsters for the highest scores.
Next, we tested Kingdom Battles, a strategy based game where you can plan out your offence and defence placing to go against other players. Both games are currently available on Google Play and App Store.
On that note, it is nice to see that Malaysia has a wide variety of local game developers ranging from the mainstream to the indie scene. We hope that there would be even more game concept showcases in the future.
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Here Are Some Local Game Developers We Saw At LEVEL UP Play 2019

When it comes to gaming, we often see the mainstream gaming market. Sometime, however, some of us do shift focus to indie games as well. We have covered some of our local game developers, but we must also not forget about the other local smaller start-ups game makers.
King’s League II
The first of many titles we saw there were King’s League II, an indie RPG and Simulation game which revolves a young brave knight battling through his king’s league, building up his guild’s reputation. The game recently became available on Steam at a price of RM29.90. Additionally, the game is also available on Apple Arcade.
Even though the game is made using the Unity engine, we have found that the game is very well polished in terms of graphics and gameplay. King’s League II is made by Kurechii based in Cyberjaya.
Zombie Friends Idle

Up next, we have Zombie Friends Idle, a clicker-based game laced with a touch of Malaysian locality. Like all clicker-based titles, you may click or tap in order to “attack the enemies” and deploy passive troops that attack for you but at a slower rate.
In-game, it features zombies who throw nasi lemak at you, a zombie “Makcik” with sandals, as well as a zombie lady with a Southeast Asian “congkak” board. For the power-ups, you can mix and match different cards in certain shapes for an additional boost.
Zombie Friends Idle is available for free on Google Play and soon to be on the App Store, developed by Xhinobi Studio based in Bangsar South.
Tap Master

Tap Master is pretty much a blast from the past sort of game; it’s a mobile arcade game inspired by the classic Bishi Bashi arcade games. In case you didn’t know, Bishi Bashi is a three-button arcade game that was available on the original PlayStation and arcade cabinets.
In Tap Master, there are currently up to 25 arcade games including a one-button masher game, timer-based maths questions, and reaction-based mini-games. The game is available on Google Play and is made by Enidea based in SS2, Petaling Jaya. The developers at Enidea also told us that they are planning to add a multiplayer mode and port the game to the App Store in the future.
Zombie Soup

The next indie game we found was Zombie Soup, a top-down zombie shooter made by Aeonsparx Interactive and features a large collection of weapons to choose from. Currently, the game is still in development, but it has been listed on Steam to be released in 2020 with no pricing yet. On the other hand, the game is currently planned for a single-player mode only.
Alfend District

Games may not just be purely entertainment only, rather we have found a business edutainment game called Alfend District. The game is made by N2W Corporate, a company based in Cyberjaya. According to the developers, the game itself focuses on the four business cycles.
The game is slated for release in 2020 and will be available for free on both Google Play and App Store. As a Malaysian-made title, Alfend District also features references to local products.
Techninier

Lastly, we have Techninier, a mobile app developer based in Kuala Lumpur who showcased two mobile games. Starting with Super Jones, it is a casual endless mobile game where you dig for gems and avoid monsters for the highest scores.
Next, we tested Kingdom Battles, a strategy based game where you can plan out your offence and defence placing to go against other players. Both games are currently available on Google Play and App Store.
On that note, it is nice to see that Malaysia has a wide variety of local game developers ranging from the mainstream to the indie scene. We hope that there would be even more game concept showcases in the future.
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New Sonic The Hedgehog Trailer Goes Live; Showcases More True-To-Source Character Design

Paramount Pictures and Sega just released a new trailer for its upcoming live-action film, Sonic the Hedgehog and, suffice to say, it does not disappoint. The new trailer shows a Sonic that stays true to both Sega’s and Yuji Naka’s original design.
To recap, Jeff Fowler, the director of the movie, caught some major flak over the initial design of Sonic. Prior to this, the Blue Blur looked nothing like the current version; the creators of the show were trying for a more realistic, human-like approach. Unfortunately, that design was clearly not well-received, with some even going so far as to describe it as an “utter catastrophe”, “ghastly abomination”, and “monstrosity”.
From what we can see in the trailer, the show’s main plot seems to be the same. On that note, we still get to see Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey, and doing what he does best: portraying Dr. Robotnik in his own maniacal, twitchy, and eccentric way.

Sonic The Hedgehog is set to arrive in theatres on 14 February 2020. In closing, we have only one thing to say: Jeff Fowler, all is forgiven.
(Source: YouTube)
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Why His Dark Materials Could Be the Next Game of Thrones

It’s been nearly 6 months since we’ve said goodbye to Westeros and our favourite characters in Game of Thrones. Ever since that time, we’ve been looking for a worthy fantasy series to fill the void. Something with enough wonder, excitement and edge to give us our weekly fiction kick. Something to inspire endless speculation and discussions among friends and co-workers. That being said, we believe we’ve found just that in HBO’s latest fantasy series, His Dark Materials. I’ve recently had the opportunity to catch up with the TV series and I am seriously blown away. The beauty of fantasy is its ability to suspend our disbelief and bring us into a whole other world full, magic and supernatural elements. A break from the mundane drudgery of college assignments, quarterly reports and homework. Notably, HBO’s shows haven’t always been so accessible for children due to the mature nature of its programmes.

Which is why you can only imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon this gem. A high-budget HBO fantasy series for the whole family to watch? Inconceivable! His Dark Materials might not be “mature” in certain departments but it deals with complicated themes with interesting characters, excellent worldbuilding and a star-studded cast to boot.
A Tale With A Twist
One thing I’ve thoroughly missed since the end Game of Thrones was the complex, winding narrative told. Stories of families, political powers and warring factions vying for control over a kingdom. All the while in the background, a silent evil emerges to cover the world in darkness. Though the plot eventually became severely truncated for the sake of time and convenience, Game of Thrones still managed to deliver the goods. Especially in the first four seasons of the show.

For the longest time, I haven’t been able to find a series that captures the thrill of a rich, layered story that inhabits a world full of wonder, terror, magic and mystery. That is until now. His Dark Materials has got me hooked from the very first episode and I am not inclined to stop anytime soon. Based on Phillip Pullman’s novel series of the same name, it follows the adventure of Lyra Belacqua played by Logan’s adorable and fierce Dafne Keen.
Born under mysterious circumstances, Lyra is an orphan dropped off at Oxford College by her uncle, Lord Asriel, played X-Men: First Class‘ James McAvoy. The thing is, though, it isn’t our world’s Oxford College. In fact, it isn’t even our world at all, in spite of its many similarities. In this reality, humans have animal companions known as daemons. They serve as friend, protector and an extension of one’s soul.

This world is controlled by a malevolent and powerful religious organization known as the Magisterium, an instrument of the Holy Church. One that suppresses knowledge through propaganda and violence. One particular subject deemed heretical by the Magisterium is the concept of Dust. A magical, life-giving substance. It just so happens that Lyra’s uncle has been actively researching on the subject in the Arctic lands. Stranger still, he’s found a whole city within the Northen Lights, covered in Dust.
Right back to Lyra. So Lyra is a child with a great destiny as foretold by the witches of the North. Her choices could determine the fate of her world and all worlds. Oh, did I forget to mention that there are multiple worlds and realities within His Dark Materials? Well, there are. After being denied an opportunity to go on Lord Asriel’s expenditure into the North, she finds herself being called into the service of an enigmatic and powerful woman by the name of Marissa Coulter played by Luther‘s Ruth Wilson.

It just so happens she’s going North. Along the way, Lyra discovers an unsettling conspiracy involving the Magisterium using their agents, Gobblers to kidnap children off the street. An operation spearheaded by none other than Coulter herself. At the same time, a nomadic group of people, the Gyptians have also noticed the alarming rate in which their children have disappeared. Now Lyra must rally the allies of Gyptians, revolutionaries and an armoured bear to fight the Magisterium. A war is on its way.
If you’ve been looking for something to scratch that epic fantasy itch, then His Dark Materials is for you. And don’t worry, the book series is finished so don’t fret about the writers messing about with the storyline. Admittedly, it doesn’t have the same level of gore and violence or sexual intrigue as Game of Thrones. Nonetheless, it has managed to be just as controversial as the show, if not more so.
Commentary and Controversy
George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books were made to be a deconstruction if not a subversion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and traditional medieval fantasy. He sought to shock us, playing with our notions of chivalrous knights and damsels in distress. Using this gritty premise to provide insightful commentary on the genre and the baggage that come with it. Similarly, Pullman’s His Dark Materials aims to do the same except it takes at aim another beloved literary property, The Chronicles of Narnia.

The original Narnia books were made by prolific Christian author, C.S. Lewis who weaved not-so-subtle Christian allegories into every piece of fiction he wrote. Lewis believed he could minister to the young with his stories and hopefully evangelize to others through the power of fiction. Pullman hopes to do the same as well, but against the tyranny of organized religion, specifically the Catholic Church.
His anti-Catholic sentiments are thoroughly peppered throughout his books and within the series. In the past, the Catholic Church was seen as one of the most powerful institutions on the planet, commanding armies and millions of followers. In our modern imagination, especially among the New Atheist, the Church was seen as a repressive dogmatic force that stifled progress and denounced any beliefs outside their system as heresy. This cynical view of the Church is overtly portrayed in the show with the Magisterium actively hovering Oxford University and sending its agents to root our heresy where ever it may be. It certainly doesn’t help that the Catholic Church uses the term “magisterium” to describe their authority to interpret the Word of God.

When Lord Asriel makes a scientific discovery that may weaken the power of the Magisterium, they send their agents or “inquisitors” to hunt him down. Organized religion is clearly not seen in a positive light here but then again it rarely is these days. Shows like AMC’s Preacher, Netflix’s Castlevania, HBO’s Righteous Gemstones and the myriad of other shows purport this idea of religious institutions, specifically the Christian Church, as evil and tyrannical. Pullman’s doesn’t stop there though.
Pullman also takes aim at the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal, child cases to be exact. Though the series and books never outright show a caricature in the form of a pedophilic Magisterium agent. Rather, we see this through parallel through a covert executive branch of the Magisterium known as the Gobblers. Operatives tasked to kidnap children and use them for experimentation. The way in which the Gobblers are seen as a myth in the world and the manner in which their existence is covered up is very deliberate, mind you.

These thugs and criminals are allowed to operate with impunity and silence because they are funded and protected by the Magisterium. Not unlike the way the Catholic Church has covered up their past sexual abuses and protected their predatory members by moving them from parish to parish. If you’re interested in learning more about this, we highly recommend you check out 2015’s Spotlight.
Needless to say, Catholics were less than thrilled about Pullman’s fiction. At some point, they even called for its members to boycott the book series and the 2007 film based on Pullman’s first book, The Golden Compass. Apparently, it worked with New Lines Cinema being “scared off” from making any more sequels to the film. Pullman himself has said that his work isn’t necessarily anti-Catholic but serves as a general warning about the dangers of religion. Despite Pullman’s comments, I can forgive those who remain sceptical about his statements.
Personally, as a Christian myself, I’m not offended by Pullman’s books or His Dark Materials. Not necessarily because I agree with them but because I appreciate the level of craft, detail and love placed into the plot and characters of the books. Hey, I don’t have to agree with Cersei Lannister to see her perspective or be captivated by her story arc. I don’t have to fully agree with Ned Stark’s actions merely because he’s the “good guy” in Game of Thrones.

The same way I can still thoroughly enjoy Pullman’s amazing anti-religious fantasy brought to life without having to be offended. It’s that good! I’ve watched the first two episodes already and it is nothing short of breathtaking and exciting. It’s epic, grand and thrilling with an important message about the power of knowledge, friendship and freedom. Something for everyone to enjoy. You can check His Dark Materials every Tuesday morning at 10 am with reruns at night at 10 pm, or stream it from your HBO GO app.
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Google Shares Insights On What Malaysians Look For When Buying Smartphones

When it comes to buying one’s next smartphone, you’d think that the number one factor that consumers look at is price. While it’s still an important factor, it’s not the most important one that Malaysians look at. Such is the revelation brought by a research done by Google and Ipsos, which involves 929 participants.
In fact, for nearly half of the participants, specs of a phone matter more than prices when it comes to deciding if someone would buy a phone. And the most important among the phone factors, as Google calls it, is battery life. This is followed by the operating system of the phone, with the other items on the spec sheet like RAM and storage capacity coming after. Brand loyalists, on the other hand, make up for less than a quarter buyers, according to the research.

The research also shows that most of those who buy smartphones these days conduct a lot of research on their own before buying. A vast majority (80%) also actively searched for information online, with over half making at least a Google search for phone reviews. This applies to both genders, as well as to those in both urban and rural areas.

On that note, the research showed that those living in rural areas were slightly more likely to buy their phones online than urban dwellers. It also shows that, ideally, slightly over half of Malaysians would chose to get a new phone every two years or sooner. That said, as it is nearly half of the participants of the research are already doing so.

One could argue that the research’s sample size of 929 isn’t exactly large enough to represent all smartphone users in the country. Nevertheless, these are interesting insights into the phone buying habits of Malaysians, to be sure.
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Qualcomm Reportedly Announcing Snapdragon 865 Chipset At Snapdragon Tech Summit

Qualcomm’s annual summit is happening in less than a month’s time in Maui, Hawaii. To that end, many among us are expecting the semiconductor maker to make some major announcements, one of them being the official reveal of its next-generation chipset, the Snapdragon 865.
The Snapdragon 865 is expected to be the flagship chipset for parent company next year, just like how the Snapdragon 855 was used in high-end, flagship smartphones earlier in the year. Followed by the Snapdragon 855+ during the second half of 2019.
Reports suggest that the chipset will be built upon Samsung’s own 7nm Extreme Ultra Violet (EUV) process, and will most likely be available in both 4G and 5G variants. Additionally, the chipset will allegedly feature a main ARM Cortex A77 core running at 2.84GHz, backed up by three A77 cores and four A55 cores running at 2.42GHz and 1.8GHz, respectively.

Beyond that, there’s no further information about the chipset, not even about what sort of ISP it would support or even if it will support resolutions greater than 48MP. There’s also no word about the successor to the Snapdragon X55 modem, although we suspect that Qualcomm will be having a word or two about that during the summit.
At the moment, this is just all hearsay and rumours, so do take this with a pinch of salt until the official Summit keynote, which kicks off 3 December.
(Source: Weibo via TechRadar, GSMArena, NotebookCheck, Qualcomm)
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Samsung Galaxy S11 Series: Here’s What We Know So Far

Seeing that Samsung annually slot their S series launches in March, it means we’re only a few months away from discovering to what the brand’s Galaxy S11 may look like and what features it has to offer. As with any high profile smartphone releases, several sources online have managed to secure alleged leaks of the S11. From camera sensors to phone sizes, here are the recently known leaks so far.
Sizes and Variations
(Image Source: Samsung)
Well-known reliable tipster Evan Blass (@evleaks) claims that the Galaxy S11, like its predecessors, will also arrive in three sizes and variations: the smaller S11 measures in at 6.4-inches, the standard S11 at 6.7-inches, and the larger S11 Plus at 6.9-inches. Blass also added that the S11 Plus will have 5G connectivity as standard, while the S11 and S11e will be released in two versions that support either 4G / LTE or 5G.
Camera Specs
(Image Source: video still from Samsung)
While Xiaomi’s Mi Note 10 (aka as the Mi CC9 Pro in China) is the first smartphone to feature Samsung’s 108MP camera sensor, XDA has discovered a 108MP photo mode in the camera software included in the recent Samsung One UI 2.0 beta. Leakster Ice Universe also added that the S11 might actually feature the second-gen version of the sensor, and also claimed that the phone will feature a centralised punch-hole front facing camera on the upper half of its screen.
So far, there have been no speculations on how many cameras will be present on the S11, but a recent Samsung patent discovered by SamMobile suggests that the upcoming flagship may feature a camera mode called “Space Zoom”. The feature, if based on the information provided by Korean news website The Elec and leakster Ice Universe (@UniverseIce), maybe referring to a 5x Optical Zoom with a longer hybrid zoom function on the Galaxy S11.
Phone Colours and Other Features
Another leakster, Ishan Agarwal (@ishanagarwal24), claims that the Samsung Galaxy S11e will come in blue, grey or pink colour choices, while the standard S11 will be available in blue, grey or black. In terms of battery capacity, Ice Universe also believes that the S11e may be equipped with a 4000mAh battery, while the Plus variant might feature 5000mAh.
As with any leaks or rumours found on the internet and no matter how supposedly viable the information provided may be, we do advise our readers to take these alleged claims with a pinch of salt. For now, check back with us for any official announcements regarding the Galaxy S11 from Samsung.
(Sources: Evan Blass, XDA, Ice Universe, SamMobile, The Elec, Ishan Agarwal // Image: renders by Ben Geskin)
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Here’s How You Can Disable The Red Dot Notifications On Facebook Mobile

Whether you like it or not, the Facebook mobile app has the tendency to grab your attention to tabs in the Shortcut Bar that you probably don’t care about; such as the Marketplace, Jobs or Dating. Thanks to a recent update, you now have the option to remove the annoying red dots from appearing ever again.
TechCrunch previously reported that the update had only rolled out on iOS, while the Android version would only arrive in several weeks time. However, upon testing the Facebook app on our Android phones in the office today, we’re glad to inform our readers that the feature is now accessible on Google’s platform as well.

To access this feature, simply tap on the drop down menu (the three lines on the top right of the screen), scroll to “Settings & Privacy”, and then tap on “Settings.” From there, scroll down until you find “Notification dots” and tap on it. In this menu, you’re presented with the option to disable the red dot notifications appearing on the Group, Jobs, and Menu tabs on the shortcut bar.
Of course, this would only stop the notifications and you’ll still be able to access the tabs whenever you please. The removal of the red dot notification may seem like a minor update, but it still is a much welcomed feature to have.
(Source: TechCrunch via SlashGear)
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