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Warcraft 3: Reforged changes how the original game works – Polygon

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Warcraft 3: Reforged came out yesterday, and fans are not happy. This is a bit more complicated than your run-of-the-mill “people are angry on the internet” situation, however. That’s because this new game and the old one — the product that was first released in 2002 — are intermingled. The end result is that the inadequacies of Warcraft 3: Reforged are being foisted upon people still playing the original Warcraft 3.

To tell the story of how we got here, we need to dial back the clock to 2018. That’s when Blizzard rolled out a big update for Warcraft 3, which included balance changes for its heroes, widescreen monitor support, and an update to its pool of maps. Out came a new launcher, one that was similar to the modern launcher for Blizzard’s Battle.net.

The other shoe dropped later that year with the announcement of Warcraft 3: Reforged at the BlizzCon fan convention. More than just a remaster of the original game, Blizzard described it as a “complete reimagining” of the real-time strategy classic.

“Let’s push it,” said Blizzard’s Pete Stillwell to Polygon in an interview at the time. “Let’s get it to be as perfectly balanced as StarCraft. Let’s add more to the editor, because it’s already powerful. And like a good Blizzard game, it’s easy to learn, difficult to master, [but let’s] also make it even deeper.”

Blizzard wasn’t just going to tweak the game balance and make things a bit prettier, it was going to add voiceover and remake in-engine cutscenes to modernize them and bring them in line with the lore of the MMO. At one point, Blizzard even planned on some light story retconning, which it later walked back.

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Blizzard did update some Reforged cutscenes, to an extent. Some in the community appear unhappy with the results. The camera work isn’t quite as cinematic as Blizzard promised, the new animations aren’t all that elaborate, and some of the voiceover still feels awkward or dated. Reforged looks better than the original, but it falls short of the sizzle reel shown in 2018.

Unfortunately, it also doesn’t perform very well.

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Customers are complaining about connectivity issues. They can’t reliably connect to custom matches. They can’t access custom campaigns that worked just fine previously. There’s no support for a competitive ladder. Making matters worse is the fact that there’s simply no going back; even if you install the original Warcraft 3, you’re still going to end up with the same issues once you connect to Blizzard’s online services because the infrastructure is now the same for both the old and the new versions of the game.

What it’s added up to so far is bedlam on Blizzard’s Warcraft 3 message boards and on the game’s subreddit. “I don’t want your new sh*t I want my old client and custom campaigns,” wrote one customer.

There’s yet another wrinkle to the story, as well. As USgamer points out, Blizzard has also updated some of its terms and conditions as it relates to custom game modes. It appears to be a defensive move to protect the company from losing out on the revenue generated by adaptations based on its work. You’ll recall that Dota 2 began life as a fan-made custom map for Warcraft 3, and then transitioned into a multi-billion dollar genre all its own. The new language effectively means, as PC Gamer puts it, that all of your Warcraft 3: Reforged custom game modes belong to Blizzard, and that rubs the community the wrong way.

Polygon has reached out to Blizzard for comment on where it goes from here.

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Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum

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Canada is set to begin a hotly anticipated auction of the mobile telecommunications bandwidth necessary for 5G rollout, one that was delayed more than a year by the pandemic.

The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.

Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.

Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.

The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.

The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.

Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.

In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.

Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.

Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.

In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.

Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.

The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.

($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Virtual Law Firms Are on the Rise in Canada

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Virtual law firms have been on the rise for a while. In a 2019 roundtable discussion conducted by the American Bar Association, several firm leaders met to discuss the growing presence of online legal services. The consensus was clear: virtual is the new reality.

That was 2019. In the intervening two years, the world was gripped by a global pandemic that forced most people to conduct their business indoors. As you might have guessed, demand for contactless, remote legal services has only ballooned since that roundtable discussion.

While the roundtable primarily focused on the legal industry in the US, you can witness similar trends here in Canada. Like the taxi industry and entertainment distribution industry before it, law is increasingly moving toward digital spaces.

This article explores what virtual law firms are, what benefits they present for Canadian clients, and what kind of clients are driving the virtual law boom.

Not a Change but an Addition

At its best, the shift from brick-and-mortar law firms to virtual isn’t an alteration of legal services as much as it is an addition.

The best virtual law firms do not compromise on service – they still offer traditional legal services with the expertise of real lawyers. The only difference is that they have added a new medium: a more accessible, transparent means of communication and billing.

Why Canadians Choose Online Law Firms

For some clients, the traditional brick-and-mortar firm was hard to give up. They viewed their lawyer like they viewed their doctor: a professional whose in-person expertise couldn’t be replicated in a digital space. Then, the pandemic hit. As millions more Canadians acclimatized to working online, they also habituated to the idea of doing business online.

 

Credit: Ketut Subiyanto Via Pexels

The benefits were immediately apparent. Virtual law firms feature streamlined communication, available seven days a week. They eliminate the need to go to a physical office. They offer all the same legal expertise and services as a brick-and-mortar lawyer. And, crucially, they often leverage transparent pricing: flat, predetermined legal fees with no hidden costs. A client looking for affordable legal services in Mississauga or Toronto, for instance, can simply click a few buttons and hire a lawyer on the spot.

Who Is Using These New Services?

You might be wondering: do they wheel a computer into the courtroom when someone avails themselves of a virtual lawyer? No, that isn’t quite the case.

Clients tend to use virtual law firms for everyday legal services – not necessarily courtroom representation. A client looking to create a will or name a power of attorney might choose a virtual lawyer for the sake of simplicity. A homebuyer, looking to keep costs manageable might hire a virtual lawyer for closing since their prices are both more transparent and affordable. A couple seeking to draft a cohabitation agreement may find similar benefits in an online lawyer.

The fact is that virtual legal services are not only here to stay – they are on the rise. Fortunately, the future is friendly; online law firms offer the same legal expertise as their physically housed counterparts, with the added benefits of being accessible and affordable.

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Starlink Struggles in Testing

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We are now two years on from the launch of the first satellite in the Starlink system, and reviews for the beta test are rolling in. As with anything Musk has a hand in, there’s been a lot of talk about what Starlink can accomplish. Some are firm believers that the service will live up to its hype, while others insist Starlink is another case of Musk’s overpromising and underdelivering. As the latest reports have shown, Starlink could be shaping up for the latter rather than the former.

The Starlink Potential

The basic idea behind Starlink is that it will act as a faster and more reliable satellite internet service than any that came before. Directly, Starlink could be seen as a successor to systems like Anik F2, a high-throughput satellite that launched in 2004. Offering speeds up to 30 times faster than dial-up, at up to 1.5Mbps, these early incarnations held promise.

The only real issue with these early systems is that to achieve geostationary orbit they had to be placed around 36,000 km high. Even in perfect conditions, this distance would incur a latency (or round trip wait time) of approximately 550 milliseconds. While this could be useful for general browsing duty, more fast-paced and active uses such as movie streaming or online gaming were rendered unplayable with such delay.

To avoid this issue, Starlink has instead gone with an enormous net of satellites in three tiers, with the closest placed at 500km above the earth’s surface. To maintain orbit, these need to move extremely quickly, which is why Starlink is aiming to launch tens of thousands of satellites. The more added, the better the coverage. The outcome of this difference is a supposed eventual goal of 300Mbps bandwidth and a latency of 20 milliseconds.

Source: Pixabay

Testing Results

In the beta tests, Starlink in action is far from living up to the dream. The major problems to arise have been found in two related areas; unreliable connections and the difficulty of dish placement. In simple terms, Starlink can only operate at peak effectiveness when it’s given a completely free field of view to the sky. Any surrounding trees, houses, or geography will diminish the dish’s ability to track satellites. Add shoddy reliability even in perfect circumstances, and the dream isn’t as great as many hoped.

Speeds in beta tests have tended to hover around a 90Mbps download speed, which isn’t too terrible, and latency still usually played under the all-important 100 milliseconds mark. However, without reliable connections, such speeds are practically moot. Speeds can vary wildly over a day, and with so many satellites constantly needing new connections, downtime can occur regularly and often. Dealing with a couple of hours of downtime a day might be acceptable if it can be planned around, but when it happens seemingly at random it becomes far less permissible.

 

Real-Life Uses

As for what Starlink could be used for today, that much relies on luck. Consider two common uses, streaming movies online and playing online casino games. In streaming movies, quality could be fine for large chunks of a film, with constant interruptions where the movie has to pause, buffer, or drop to lower quality to ensure consistency. This is frustrating and could be a deal-breaker for some.

In accessing and playing on something like the best online Canada casinos, demands tend to be much lower than with systems like movie streaming. This applies to all facets of the experience, from browsing comparison websites to find bonuses and features to collecting deposit matches, and playing the games themselves. Each step here requires very little bandwidth, but each could also be broken by the low connection reliability. Safety features of these casinos mean a constant connection needs to apply at all times when playing games, where Starlink’s drops could render even small titles unplayable.

Source: Pixabay

Future Perfect?

Proponents of Starlink are quick to point out that the growing net of satellites will improve coverage reliability, and this much is true to some degree. That said, the major benefits will only ever apply to those with completely unobstructed lines of sight to the sky. This is an unlikely scenario for most people, though in the right place at the right time, the potential is there.

Ultimately, the most profound benefits afforded by Starlink could apply not to general internet connections in developed nations, but rather as specialized systems for remote and developing areas. Having a satellite dish for high-speed internet in such places could introduce massive benefits in terms of education and communication opportunities. The results of such systems are untold improvements to ways of life, and in this, we have to have faith in what Starlink could accomplish.

With rollout increasing all the time, and a goal for integration into larger vehicles like ships and RVs stated somewhere down the line, we’re yet to see the peak of what Starlink can accomplish. Should it fail to measure up, however, its government subsidies could be cut, and the project could utterly fail. Though, should this occur, the lessons learned from Starlink are immense and might prove indispensable for satellite communications technology in the future. Either way, the Starlink experiment seems to have been worth the effort.

 

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