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Destiny 2’s first Fortnite-style live event was slow and underwhelming, but it’s a solid start – The Verge

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Destiny 2’s first ever Fortnite-style live event just wrapped earlier today, and it was unfortunately not quite what some players were expecting. Instead of something monumental and game-changing for a key part of the game world, it was more of a slow burn alternative to a standard video game cutscene. And instead of delivering a strong narrative pay off on a season’s worth of otherwise dull and repetitive activity, the Almighty event ended without any meaningful change in direction or surprising new development.

For the last there months, developer Bungie has been building up a clash between the Destiny world’s artificial intelligence supercomputer Rasputin and a large planet-destroying ship called the Almighty. All of this past season’s activities have revolved around communicating with the AI character, a largely mysterious fixture in Destiny lore before this season, and doing a series of rehashed game modes and resource collecting in service of an eventual showdown between Rasputin and the Almighty. Over the last month, players were asked to participate in a mind-numbing number of public event activities to unlock an old Destiny 1 weapon and a brief story mission, with the promise of more to come at season’s end.

Some players expected the Almighty to actually crash into the game’s Tower social hub. Others expected a cutscene or perhaps some form of real-time space battle that would destroy or in some change the Tower. What we actually got was a severely understated form of the latter in which the image of the Almighty changed in excruciatingly slow fashion with new animations and, eventually, its destruction. Yet the whole execution felt a bit slapdash and underwhelming.

The event got off to a bumpy start when, at the scheduled 1PM ET start time, nothing appeared to happen. The delay, whether intentional or not, lasted for more than 20 minutes, but it did give players ample time to load into the Tower and to join in with any other collaborative antics other players were engaging in.

In my instance, a row of well-decorated Guardians laid down holographic staffs as if to make a last line of defense by using the “None Shall Pass” emote, a reference to Gandalf’s legendary line when facing down the Balrog in The Lord of the Rings.

Eventually, players began noticing subtle changes in the sky in the form of large clusters of laser beams arcing toward the Almighty. The process appeared to be dynamic, so the lasers grew closer over time, but at a painfully so pace that made it hard to track minute-by-minute movement.

The lasers made contact at around 1:50PM ET, nearly a full hour after the event supposedly first launched. (It’s unclear if there actually was an initial real at first or if Bungie purposefully designed it to be as slow-moving as it actually was.)

As we closed in on close to 90 minutes after the event first started, the ship began to explode in apparent slow motion. But that’s when the one exciting portion of the event kicked in, as the Almighty began crashing toward the surface of the Earth and bits of debris began flying off. This was the only actual dynamic part of the experience, as everything else felt like a series of subtle screenshot changes to in-game sky.

It ultimately ended with an exciting crash landing and a shock wave, and now the Almighty’s landing site appears to be a permanent fixture of the background of the Tower. If players end up inspecting some of the crash debris (after re-zoning in), Bungie is awarding an emblem.

Still, that the conclusion, which lasted under 10 minutes, required 90 minutes of build up and resulted in just an emblem and not much more illustrates the mismatched expectations Bungie may have inadvertently cultivated.

We’ve never seen Bungie try something this ambitious with Destiny 2 before, and the end result was certainly exciting when you consider what could come next. The closest the studio has come is with 2018’s Forsaken expansion, in which the game’s new location, the Dreaming City, underwent a transformation after the very first raid team bested The Last Wish activity. But it was not at the scale of the Almighty event, and this is Bungie’s first real attempt at building a months-long narrative culminating in some form of shared experience for the player base.

Fortnite, although it’s best known for being a wildly popular battle royale game, has emerged over the last few years as an industry leader in what can only be described as live, simultaneous events. These are in-game events that happen in real time and are experienced only once by every single player who happens to log in and be present for the show. Fortnite isn’t the first of its kind to do this; massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) and online sims like Second Life have been experimenting in this department for years. But Fortnite features undeniably the most impressive and technically challenging versions of these events in all of gaming.

Starting with an in-game rocket launch back in 2018 and growing steadily more ambitious every few months with more complex and ever-evolving events like last fall’s black hole stunt, developer Epic has proven it has the technical chops to do what video games even just five years ago considered almost impossible. More recently, Epic held a stunning Travis Scott show that projected the rapper as a superhuman skyscraper-sized hologram for more than 12 million players and, last summer, concluded a multi-month storyline with a mecha-monster showdown, Pacific Rim-style.

Part of what makes Fortnite’s events so fun and feel so unprecedented is that they are so intricately built over time. Epic, through whatever technical achievements it’s built under the hood of its battle royale game (the developer has never shared how it pulls these events off), is able to change its map in subtle ways almost every day, adding clues to find and expanding teasers of larger events all without having to take down its server for maintenance. Some of its most successful feats have included a live event that then kicks players right into an all-new, changed game map, no update required.

Bungie’s approach is nowhere near that sophisticated, at least not yet. But the developer is trying something new and it’s clear the studio has taken ample notes from watching Fortnite. The Almighty grew ever-closer in the sky over the past season, and players logging into the Tower on Saturday morning noticed all the non-playable characters having shifted their positions to get a clear look at the ship’s descent. These changes were minor and it will be interesting to see if Bungie can step up its game for future live events, if it does indeed try them again.

Regardless of the overall quality in this Almighty event, experiments like these represent, for the first time, Destiny 2 living up to the series’ original promise of a shared, living, and ever-changing world. They help the game better straddle the line between shooter and MMO, even if it’s taken quite a few years and nearly two full games to get there.

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Google-backed groups criticise Apple's new warnings on user tracking – CNA

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SAN FRANCISCO: A group of European digital advertising associations on Friday (Jul 3) criticised Apple’s plans to require apps to seek additional permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites.

Apple last week disclosed features in its forthcoming operating system for iPhones and iPads that will require apps to show a pop-up screen before they enable a form of tracking commonly needed to show personalized ads.

Sixteen marketing associations, some of which are backed by Facebook and Google, faulted Apple for not adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user consent under European privacy rules. Apps will now need to ask for permission twice, increasing the risk users will refuse, the associations argued.

Facebook and Google are the largest among thousands of companies that track online consumers to pick up on their habits and interests and serve them relevant ads.

Apple said the new feature was aimed at giving users greater transparency over how their information is being used. In training sessions at a developer conference last week, Apple showed that developers can present any number of additional screens beforehand to explain why permission is needed before triggering its pop-up.

FILE PHOTO: Facebook is among thousands of companies that track online consumers to pick up on their habits and interests and serve them relevant ads. (Photo: AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

The pop-up says an app “would like permission to track you across apps and websites owned by other companies” and gives the app developer several lines below the main text to explain why the permission is sought. It is not required until an app seeks access to a numeric identifier that can be used for tracking, and apps only need to secure permission once.

The group of European marketing firms said the pop-up warning and the limited ability to customize it still carries “a high risk of user refusal.”

Apple engineers also said last week the company will bolster a free Apple-made tool that uses anonymous, aggregated data to measure whether advertising campaigns are working and that will not trigger the pop-up.

“Because it’s engineered to not track users, there’s no need to request permission to track,” Brandon Van Ryswyk, an Apple privacy engineer, said in a video session explaining the measurement tool to developers.

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Here's How the iPhone 6s Runs on iOS 14 [VIDEO] – iPhone in Canada

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Brandon Butch on YouTube has released a video showing how Apple’s iPhone 6s (2015) runs iOS 14 beta.

Apple’s iPhone 6s is the oldest iPhone to support iOS 14 and Butch goes through how the device handles new widgets, picture in picture video, new messages features, camera controls, Safari tracking, performance, battery life and more.

The iPhone 6s running a fresh install of iOS 14 beta looks relatively smooth when it comes to widgets and accessing the App Library. Picture in picture does take up a lot of real estate on the smaller iPhone 6s display, but the demo shows it does handle it fine.

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Apps open up fairly quickly in iOS 14, which Butch says is “pretty impressive”. But performance is “not bad” and the only lag is related to some apps hanging and the keyboard lagging in Messages, as Apple’s A9 chip and 2GB of RAM struggle to keep up.

As for battery life in iOS 14, it’s pretty bad due to widgets using background data. Of course, iOS betas have been known to have less than stellar battery life. Usually, battery life does include in the later betas.

Overall, it’s impressive Apple is still supporting iOS 14 for an iPhone that’s five years old. Android devices that are five years old are unable to get the latest version of its own software.

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Tencent launches new U.S. game studio for global appeal – Reuters

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – Tencent Holdings, China’s biggest social media and video game company, launched a new California-based studio this week, as it looks to further expand its presence overseas.

FILE PHOTO: A Tencent sign is seen at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, Oct. 20, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

The new studio, LightSpeed LA, will be led by former Rockstar veteran Steve Martin and will focus on the development and publishing of AAA titles, Tencent Games’ LightSpeed and Quantum Studios said in a statement to Reuters.

“We’re ushering in a new era of game culture by combining world-class development with a stress-free work environment,” Martin said in the statement.

Tencent is trying to build an array of studios overseas with the goal of creating content with original intellectual property that has global appeal.

The launch is also the firm’s latest move in a strategy to derive half its games revenue from overseas, a category that accounted for about 23% of its fourth-quarter online game sales.

The company has most recently hired Halo 4 lead designer Scott Warner to head another newly-minted new studio grouped under TiMi Studios, the maker of Arena of Valor and Call of Duty: Mobile.

Tencent is also the owner of League of Legends creator Riot Games, and has majority control of Clash of Clans maker Supercell.

The new studio in Orange County has hired creative talent from Rockstar Games, Sony VASG, Respawn Entertainment, 2K Games, and Insomniac.

Last week, Tencent unveiled plans for more than 40 game products, from a release of Mobile Dungeon & Fighter to an unnamed Metal Slug mobile game in partnership with SNK Corp.

It also announced a cross-platform Pokemon team battling game running on Nintendo Co Ltd’s Switch console and on mobile.

Shares of Tencent Holdings soared more than 8% this week to a historic high of HK$521 after the announcement of the new games.

Reporting by Pei Li; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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