E3 2018: Dreams First Impressions – This Is Not Your Average Game

Attempting to describe this game may be an exercise in futility. Not because it’s a bad game, but because it’s not actually a game. Media Molecule is instead building a sort of spiritual successor to Little Big Planet; providing a suite of tools to players and telling them to be creative.
Dreams is essentially a creation platform, offering players a simplified game development platform. The comes with a level builder, graphics assets, a sound mixer, and basic programming language. All of which are designed to make it easy for just about anyone to get started and building their own creations.

Creating levels is done in a very visual manner, with players first building their world and then setting triggers for events. All of which is done by dragging and dropping event boxes. It’s an impressive system considering that the interface is designed for use with a DualShock4 controller.
Almost everything can be altered in this mode. With the demo showing everything from a pixel art game to near 4K resolution mini-games. None of the games even need to be of the same genre; having been shown a simple party game with hammers and then being thrown into space fighter simulator.

The sound mixer is equally interesting. Allowing players to create their own music by inputting notes for a variety of instruments. It also comes with an expanded control board for layering music and creating something more complex.
Players don’t even need to be building games, since the platform is also more than capable of handling simple animations or making music videos. Creating something that really is limited by the imagination.

Naturally, creations made in Dreams can be shared through an online community. Media Molecule is also opening up Dreams for multiplayer development; allowing multiple people to work on the same project. Either through the same console or over an internet connection.
Grasping the extent of Dreams actually requires a hands on demonstration, with someone to explain everything that is happening. Something that Sony Interactive Entertainment appreciated and helpfully supplied a developer to show off the potential of the game.

This is admittedly not a game for everyone. Getting anything done will require a whole lot of dedication, and the learning curve is going to be a lot steeper than most console games. However, it is likely to appeal to budding game designers who want a simple platform to begin testing their ideas. Perhaps before moving on to bigger things.
Dreams is perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of E3 2018. It may not be a blockbuster hit, but it’s nice to see Sony Interactive Entertain provide a space for these kinds of ideas.
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Leica Introduces The C-Lux Compact Zoom Camera

Leica has announced a new entry to its compact camera line. The C-Lux is a compact super-zoom camera with a 1″ sensor at the heart of the system, although it is essentially a rebadged Panasonic ZS200.
The C-Lux also captures video in 4K30fps, with a high 100Mbps bitrate for files. Images are saved in both JPG and RAW, with a max ISO value of 25600. Focusing is expected to be sharp as a tack thanks to the 49 metering points. Plus it can shoot continuously with a max shooting speed of 10fps.
The 20MP 1″ BSI CMOS sensor is paired with 24-360mm F3.3-6.4 zoom lens, making it a great travel camera to walk around with.

The long zoom is crystal clear in both the wide-angle and telephoto position, plus the high-resolution viewfinder rated at 2.33 megapixels is a boon to any photographer. The menu can be accessed using the large 3-inch touchscreen that unfortunately is not tiltable.
Leica will be starting the sale of the C-Lux from mid-July, with a sticker price of US$1,050 (RM4,197) with a range of accessories designed for the camera.
(Source: DPReview)
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The Samsung Galaxy X Foldable Smartphone Could Cost More Than An iPhone X

Smartphones with foldable displays are coming to the market, and Samsung intends to claim the “world’s first” title with its Galaxy X foldable smartphone.
The phone will reportedly sport display panels both on the outside and inside of the phone. The latter will comprise two screen that reveal a massive 7.3-inch OLED display when fully opened. When folded, however, the phone will only measure in at 4.5-inches.
As groundbreaking as it sounds, analysts are also forecasting that it won’t sell for cheap at launch. Kim Jang-Yeol, head of research at Golden Bridge Investment, said that the possible recommended retail price for the phone would set consumers back US$1850 (~RM7395) without any telco subsidies. That’s about 35% more than what a base iPhone X currently costs.

Samsung isn’t the only one with plans to release its own foldable smartphone. Apple is also reportedly working on an iPhone with a foldable display, as well as Huawei and OPPO.
Samsung says it plans to launch the Galaxy X sometime within 2019. Additionally, the company says that it will have working prototypes to show to major US and European carriers, just in time for next year’s CES.
(Source: SCMP, Hot Hardware, Cult of Mac)
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Samsung Patents New Rotating Bixby Speaker With Camera

A new patent filing made by Samsung hints at a new Bixby-powered speaker that also sees. It features a rotating ‘head’ equipped with cameras to presumably record the likeness of its owner.
Samsung has suggested previously that it will be launching a Bixby smart speaker sometime in 2018. Until today we have yet to see how it may look like, until now.
The speaker patent in question looks like the ASUS Zenbo robot, complete with swivelling head. The difference is mainly the application of the camera. In the patent, there is a single camera paired with seven microphones for directional sound pickup. The ‘head’ is able to rotate 360 degrees towards the sound of the user once it picks up voices.
Included in the design is a display to show users related content as well as to interact with the users via emojis or facial expressions. The display will support both touch and S-Pen inputs by the users according to the patent.
As of right now, we do not know if the patent will translate into a real product. However, if the product does go to market, we may either see it during the Galaxy Note 9 launch (logical thanks to the S-Pen functionality) or during IFA 2018.
(Source: LetsGoDigital via PhoneArena)
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E3 2018: Concrete Genie First Impressions

Concrete Genie is yet another first party game from Sony Interactive Entertainment. The press release calls it an action adventure title, but it honestly feels more like a puzzle game. Especially since it’s less about exploring and more about solving the problem presented by the level.
Developed by Pixelopus, yet another developer owned by SIE, the game centres on a young artist named Ash. The goal of the game is to use Ash’s oversized paintbrush to clear the darkness that’s engulfed his small town; returning colour and magic to the surroundings. Along the way, players will be able to create living paintings that help them manipulate their surroundings.

Painting with the brush uses the gyroscope of the DualShock controller, requiring players to actually physically move their hands. That said, the strokes needed are rather broad; becoming more like whitewashing a wall instead of creating a detailed masterpiece.
Pixelopus doesn’t quite have the same budget for graphics as triple-A titles do, leaving the designers to make do with their limited resources. As such, it’s entirely unremarkable in terms of styling. Although, the actual living genie paintings have a simple sort of child-like charm to them.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a puzzle game without some complications along the way. In this case, there is the presence of a group of bullies that lurk on the map. The bullies will attempt to harass Ash if they get their hands on him, and will also scare the genies into inaction.

Concrete Genie is a cute little game that seems to have a lot of heart behind it. It’s difficult to say how clever the puzzles will be, seeing that the demo at E3 was relatively short. For the most part, it seems like something designed for younger gamers. The simpler mechanics and slower pace are likely to be a good introduction for kids to gaming.
This may not have the pure child-like wonder of Captain Spirit, but it did provide another break from all the flash and noise of the show floor.
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Intel Plans To Launch Own Discrete GPU By The Year 2020

It appears Intel is finally going ahead with its plan to launch its own discrete GPU. The semiconductor maker recently tweeted its decision via its official Twitter account, saying that they intend to have a functioning discrete GPU by the year 2020.
Intel’s move into the discrete GPU market is not a new one, nor is it surprising. Back in November 2017, Intel hired AMD’s former Radeon Technologies Group chief, Raja Koduri. He is presently the chief architect of Intel’s Core and Visual Computing Group.
Intel’s intention to create its own discrete GPU could also be seen as being strategical; for years, the CPU maker has been dependent on its GPU partners, NVIDIA and AMD, especially in the notebooks market. Of course, by manufacturing its own discrete GPU, the move will put Intel directly in competition with the two.

Intel's first discrete GPU coming in 2020: https://t.co/s9EPeFifBp pic.twitter.com/n5zmUY2Mc2
— Intel News (@intelnews) June 12, 2018

This won’t be Intel’s first GPU-related endeavour. Earlier in the year, the company announced its new G-Series processors. These processors combine its 8th generation Core CPU with AMD’s Radeon RX Vega M GPU via its Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB) technology. To date, Intel’s Hades Canyon NUC and the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 are the only devices housing the new processors.
(Source: Twitter, Videocardz)
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Tiada maaf bagimu, MYNIC

While Aidilfitri is a time for forgiveness, we are not in the mood to forgive MYNIC for their latest blunder, given the sheer arrogance of their press release almost 24 hours after literally wiping out all .my domains with a Thanos level finger snap of incompetence.
In case you were not aware (thanks in part to DNS caching, a long public holiday weekend, as well as the fact that some Malaysian ISP’s run DNS resolvers that do not check for DNSSEC records), eight MYNIC controlled TLD’s ending with .my suffix stopped resolving across the internet from around 4.30pm on Friday.
While this was not immediately visible to a casual internet user, many started experiencing issues with online transactions, and those browsing websites on the .my domain started facing intermittent disruptions. DNS records are constantly cached at many levels, including on individual browsers as it is not necessary to query remote DNS servers every time a domain name is fetched. By around 10pm as DNS cache records started to expire, the problem escalated and it became apparent that something was seriously wrong.
We published our report on the outage at around 11.30pm, and it took MYNIC another 5 hours to acknowledge the issue via a tweet from their official twitter account.

We are currently experiencing some Technical Issue related to DNSSEC chain with IANA. We feel sorry for any inconvenience to the customers. We are working hard to resolve this issue as soon as possible. More details will be issued from time to time.
— MYNIC Berhad (@mynicberhad) June 15, 2018

That is about 12 hours from the time we roughly estimate the issues with their DNSSEC-IANA chains started. If they are now aware and have acknowledged the issues, we would expect that an organization as important as MYNIC would be able to swiftly resolve the issues.
We were wrong again, as we entered day two, .my domains were still not resolving, and people started getting frustrated. Social media was full of complaints from users frantically switching DNS servers to get their .my links working. Media outlets picked up on our story, as well as our warnings against conducting online transactions on .my domains until the issue is resolved. MYNIC has already had a number of DNS hacking and poisoning issues before this, and with the lack of updates from MYNIC on the current issue, there is always a concern that the outage could lead to a similar scenario.
The issue was soon escalated to Multimedia and Communications Minister, YB Gobind Singh Deo, who confirmed via a tweet at 11.12am that he was aware of the situation and has instructed MYNIC and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to get it sorted.

Saya telah dimaklumkan berkenaan perkara ini pagi tadi. Tindakan sedang diambil oleh MYNIC dan SKMM utk mengatasinya. Harap ianya dpt diselesaikan dgn segera. Maklumat lanjut selepas menerima laporan terperinci kemudian. https://t.co/nRML3MhLXt
— GobindSinghDeo (@GobindSinghDeo) June 16, 2018

By around 2.30pm, .my domains started resolving without any issues, and was mostly restored by around 5.30pm. At 5.56pm, MYNIC tweets an official statement with regards to the .my domain name outage.

Press Release – .MY Domain Outage pic.twitter.com/MmzRSitI7m
— MYNIC Berhad (@mynicberhad) June 16, 2018

This is where we get utterly disgusted at the sheer arrogance of MYNIC. We will break it down for further clarity why anybody reading this statement should feel aggrieved by MYNIC’s attitude on this issue.
MYNIC received a report of .my domain services intermittent outages late last night.
MYNIC ‘received’ a report? Are you, MYNIC, a top level domain administrator trying to say that until you received a report, you were not aware that your DNSSEC keys were not resolving, and that until a report came in, you were oblivious to the issues affecting all .my domains? With all the resources available at your disposal, you do not have teams monitoring your own DNS servers for issues and actually have to rely on ‘reports’? This is not a small outage affecting a small number of domains, it affected every single one of the 340,638 .my domains that is under your care and control.
Our technical team acted upon the report and are working together with Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and Verisign to resolve the problem. As part of the resolution to the problem, MYNIC’s DNSSEC key was refreshed and pushed to IANA servers.
The problem was acknowledged at 4.35am, and it took another 10 hours to ‘refresh your DNSSEC keys’? We are no DNS experts, but based on our basic knowledge of how DNS generally works, it should not take this long to resolve since the affected servers are directly under MYNIC’s care and control.
No breach of customers’ data took place in this incident.
Considering that it took almost 24 hours to resolve a DNSSEC issue, we really think that MYNIC should not be making this comment before actually investigating thoroughly and publicly disclosing the cause of the outage, and the exact reasons why it took close to 24 hours to resolve.
The blame for this outage lies solely in the hands of MYNIC. Every organization in the world, even the giants like Google and Facebook are not immune to outages. That is where contingency plans, disaster planning, mitigation and recovery planning comes in. The fact that a somewhat trivial thing as a DNSSEC failure brought down the entire .my domain name services is scary to say the least. The implications this time was negated by the sheer luck that it happened on a public holiday, and a very long weekend.
And yes, when you make a mistake of this magnitude, the first thing you say in your press release after the incident is a massive SORRY to everyone affected. We expected MYNIC to at the very least get that right.

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MYNIC services experiencing disruption, all .my domain names affected

Something isn’t right at MYNIC over this long Hari Raya weekend. DNS servers responsible for resolving the .my domain names seems to have gone offline earlier today, at at time of writing, as DNS caches start to expire, most if not all websites on .my domains have started to be inaccessible from the web.
We can confirm that this affects all websites on the .my domain, and while we have reached out to MYNIC for a comment, we are not expecting a reply anytime soon.
Without detailed information, we cannot ascertain whether this is just a harmless outage of the service, or if its something more. MYNIC has had issues with DNS Hacking and DNS Poisoning in the not to distant past.
Most of Malaysia’s online banking sites are hosted on the .com.my domains, so until this issue is resolved, we advise extreme caution on submitting your credentials to any online services that are hosted on the .com.my and .my domain names.

We can also confirm that the MYNIC outage is also affecting online banking apps as well as a number of online payment channels.
Developing story…
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E3 2018: The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit First Impressions

If there is one game at E3 that stands out from the rest, it would be DONTNOD’s The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. The game is meant to introduce new players to the Life Is Strange universe, but is just so wholesome and charming that it could easily be the best thing to come out this year.
The goal of the game is to simply explore a day in the life of 10-year old Chris. A child who doesn’t have many friends and spends his time pretending to be a superhero. Despite this, there is no combat; with players simply making this or that choices that affect the overall storyline.

This almost complete lack of conflict is a bit jarring in the middle of an expo that seemingly thrives on violence and bloodshed. Which is perhaps why it stands out so much. The innocence of a 10-year old at play doesn’t belong out here among the massive triple-A titles.
Watching the demo being played at shows just how far other games have shaped the expectations of an entire generation of gamers. In one scene, you see Chris’ newly widowed father drinking alcohol at breakfast; when confronted, he chooses to playfully brush it off while being supportive of his child. A far cry from the traditional media portrayal of drunk single father chugging a beer while stumbling off to watch “the game”.

DONTNOD promises that this will be a very short experience, and won’t take more than a couple of hours to complete. Maybe more depending on how many times a player wants to go back and try alternative choices.
If anything, it’s a nice break from every other bleak and grimdark game currently being marketed. The fact that it’s being released for free on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC only means that everyone should give it a try. It’s also fantastic marketing for the upcoming Life is Strange 2; which is due out next year.
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E3 2018: Ghost Of Tsushima First Impressions

The other big samurai game to be announced at E3, Ghost of Tsushima takes a more cinematic approach to the genre. It’s a grittier game than Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Although not necessarily as punishing to less skilled gamers.
Creative director Nate Fox describes the visuals as being inspired by the old Kurosawa movies. Particularly focusing on the movements of nature, and how they contrast with the stillness of samurai staring each other down. This focus on Iaido was especially notable during the demo. Seeing that there was more than one scene with two foes in a standoff during the barely five minute showcase.
Samurai drama is perhaps the best way to describe the feel of Ghost of Tsushima. Although, open world action adventure game may be more accurate.

The entire setting takes place on the island of Tsushima, where the Mongols have successfully conquered the land and have subjugated the Japanese people. Sucker Punch Productions has put a lot of work into designing the absolutely gorgeous environments. The vivid colours and soft ambient sounds create a very believable world.
It’s not entirely realistic, but rather presents a very stylised image. All the better to sell Ghost of Tsushima’s tone.

Whether the combat is able to complement these stylistic choices is difficult to say. Seeing that there has not yet been a playable demo. However, what has been seen is certainly very convincing. Showing fluid movements and techniques that flow in precisely the way that one would expect out of a samurai movie.
As Fox says, “there are three words that describe Ghost of Tsushima: mud, blood, and steel”
In fact, this sort of cinematic combat is rapidly becoming the hallmark of PlayStation first party games. It’s also been seen in games like The Last of Us and God of War. Used to sell just how gritty and desperate getting into a fight can really be (although perhaps to a lesser extent in Kratos’ case).

There are still many questions about how Ghost of Tsushima will play out. Since the game is only scheduled for 2019 release, and a lot can change in the mean time. For now, it’s perhaps safe to say that this will at least be a very pretty game to look at. Which is something that Sony Interactive Entertainment has become very good at producing.
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