YouTube joins the live mobile streaming ranks

The Google-owned video giant announced Thursday it is finally offering live streaming on its mobile app.

The news, dropped during YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s keynote at VidCon, comes after months of speculation. It positions YouTube to directly compete with not just Facebook, but also Periscope, Meerkat and a handful of other live streaming platforms that have popped up in the last year.

The new app will give users the ability to live stream by clicking a red capture button in the corner of the app. They can then take or select a photo to use as a thumbnail, and you broadcast live to fans and chat in near real time.

They’re late to the party but likely to make a large dent. Poor little Meerkat who started all of this must be hurting.

Source: YouTube unveils mobile live streaming at VidCon

E3 2016 – Hands on: Forza Horizon 3

As an Australian I just had to play this game. Borrowing from a multitude of landscape around the country Forza Horizon 3 brings a new drop-in/play-anywhere style of gameplay to this latest instalment of the arcade racer franchise.

Also a new addition is Microsoft’s “Play Anywhere” feature enabling the game to seamlessly continue between both PC and Xbox platforms.

I was given the opportunity to play on PC, the graphics incredibly detailed as you’d expect. That wasn’t to say the Xbox One wasn’t holding its own by any means. Right next to me where a string of XB1s belting out the same series of tracks in gorgeous detail. Playing on the PC using an XB1 controller and then later on an XB1 itself I was just as satisfied.

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Whilst the game is set in Australia it’s by no means modelled one to one on an actual section of Australian roads. One of the courses made available for example, had you driving through what looks to be stilted homes of far north Queensland only to crest a mountain and diving into the sandy beaches, 12 Apostles at your side. Australia may provide the source material for many of the games landmarks and settings but that’s where it starts and ends. That is of course excluding the excruciatingly horrid Australian accent that you kind of expect but hoped wouldn’t be in there narrating one of the NPC’s in the now infamous helicopter drop in race you saw in the trailer.

I spoke with a member of the development team who all but confirmed the source of Australia was meant only as a setting rather than a recreation. Surprisingly the demo tracks were quite Victorian heavy, the Yarra Valley, the Apostles, what looked like Geelong’s beachfront and then Queensland and the rainforests. Absent were the obvious Sydney international icons such as the Harbour Bridge & Opera House but I’m sure we’ll see them in time to come.

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The cars look incredible. Microsoft have never shied away from their detail when it comes to their car modelling and the attention to detail is second to none. I do get the feeling that we’re almost running out of room to push this forward though. They look so incredibly real now between it’s bigger brother “Forza” and Sony stalwart & counterpart Gran Turismo car models are so beautifully detailed they’re as if they came out of the manufacturer’s own CAD files.

As far as the actual gameplay goes, it’s just plain old fun! The Horizon series is unabashedly an arcade racer and shouldn’t be taken as anything more. The game allows you to sit behind the wheel of a multitude of different vehicles, not just your standard supercars. If you have the interest to race in trucks, off-road buggies and more (similar to Dirt 2 & 3) then this will be right up your alley. If you’re after a hardcore car simulation steer clear, but then you probably already knew that.

Forza Horizon 3 is as close as we’re getting to the awesomeness that was Burnout in this generation of console and with a heavy emphasis on friendly rivalries this is a title you’ll want to be playing with, or rather against, friends in. Look out for FH3 in September this year!

Apple Discontinues Thunderbolt Display

Apple today told several news sites that it plans to discontinue it Thunderbolt Display, which has been available for purchase online and in Apple retail stores since it was first introduced in the summer of 2011.

“We’re discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display. It will be available through Apple.com, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last. There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users,” said an Apple spokesperson.

Apple will continue to sell existing Thunderbolt Display stock so long as it remains available, but once stock is exhausted, the Thunderbolt Display will no longer be available as production is ceasing. It is not clear why Apple has decided to make an announcement concerning the discontinuation of the display and if it means a new 4K or 5K display is on the horizon.

Apple seems to be moving further and further away from the Pro market. I really hope this is a move to make way for a new display later this year and not a further indication of their exit for power users.

That said the Thunderbolt Display was significantly overpriced and hardly the best option on the market anyway.

Source: Apple Discontinues Thunderbolt Display – Mac Rumors

E3 2016 – Hands on: LawBreakers

In the already overcrowded world of online arena shooters like Overwatch and “that-one-no-one-remembers-since-Overwatch-came-out” (Battleborne), former Epic #1 Cliff Bleszinski and his new studio Boss Key Productions decided to join the fray with their version: LawBreakers.

PC only LawBreakers is taking aim at a more “specific” market not only through its limitation of platform availability but in gameplay and the mature graphic nature associated with it.

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As you’d expect with an arena shooter there are different character classes available, loosely following the regular tank, scout, etc models we’ve all seen since Team Fortress 2. Of course LawBreakers has its own names for them (Titan, Assassin) and introduces some of its own focusing on the verticality of the game like the Vanguard. Each class of course includes its own set of skills and weapons.

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The main difference beyond amazing graphics and the general gore that will likely earn the title an M rating in the land down under is that of gravity, or rather the lack of it. At the centre of each map is a “core” where gravity doesn’t exist. Also equipped as special weapons/skills on cool-downs for certain classes is the ability to knock or elevate opponents with a gravity lifting impact.

The combination of PC controls, the lack of gravity and the speed at which it runs means gameplay is fast and furious and whilst there’s no sign of Vin Diesel I wouldn’t be surprised if he popped up down the track. The character and environment modelling look gorgeous and you can really see how Boss Key have taken the no holds bar approach to making this look and run incredibly well on a well spec’d PC.

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A new Domination-like mode called “Turf War” was unveiled at E3. Taking the normal three-point domination approach Turf War adds a twist. Players capture a point and are awarded a point for holding it. Once all are captured they reset after a small period of time where none can be captured. During this reset time you’re free to roam and setup your next capture or defence of one. It’s hard to explain, when they went through it in my briefing I just nodded and smiled like an idiot so I’m sure I’ve done a terrible job too. After a couple of rounds it starts making sense and you realise just how exciting the change makes things.

The game is currently in Alpha and lucky few have access to it at the moment. Expect a lot more information including characters, maps and gameplay modes to come out as they ramp up aiming towards a Steam Early Access release around August this year.

Quigley slams Coalition’s NBN

Switching from a full-fibre NBN to the Coalition’s multi-technology network has been “a colossal mistake”, according to NBN Co founding CEO Mike Quigley.

Addressing the University of Melbourne’s Networked Society Institute last night and in his first public comments since leaving NBN Co in 2013, Quigley blasted the Coalition’s NBN policy and argued fibre-to-the-premise “was and is still the right answer”.

In what is probably the biggest “tell us something we didn’t know” to date Mike Quigley has reaffirmed the Australian internet’s populous long thought sentiments.

What a complete waste of time and money from the Coalition. Just another case of government doing what’s best for them and not the people.

Source: Former NBN boss slams Coalition’s ‘colossal mistake’ – Telco/ISP – iTnews

E3 2016: PlayStation media briefing

Sony put on a show. Backed by a full orchestra Sony’s E3 media briefing for 2016 was by far the most succinct and on brand message sender of all I attended. They stayed true to their word and made no mention of the heavily leaked PlayStation Neo but instead double downed on their commitment to PlayStation VR (PSVR) and its ability to work with current hardware, which – according to rumours – may be true albeit at less than desirable frame rates.

50 PSVR titles are said to be in works for the release of the hardware which was finally given a solid release date and pricing: October 13th US$299. Australia’s release has been confirmed as the same day too.

Whilst not all 50 titles were revealed (or re-shown) some more AAA affiliated highlights were such as Final Fantasy XV VR Experience, Batman Arkham VR (with Mark Hamill returning as the Joker) and a Star Wars Battlefront “VR Exclusive Mission” which we only saw brief footage of a tie-fighter but could very well link into the trench run models we saw in EA’s Star Wars “behind the scenes” footage yesterday.

No VR title stirred the room more so than the reveal that Resident Evil 7: Biohazard would be fully playable via PSVR. The gameplay shown looked scary as fuck and reminded me very much of the now cancelled P.T.

But PSVR was definitely not the whole story. In fact it wasn’t even the first thing shown. That fortune was bestowed upon the new God of War or as I prefer to call it, God of War: Single Parent. Kratos, now aged and a father, is the soul parent for his son after his mothers death. In the gameplay footage we see them hunting and whilst aesthetically Kratos has aged his physical prowess has not been affected defeating a troll in the gore cinematic style we’ve come to expect from the series. Interestingly not Quick Time Events (QTEs) were displayed during the footage but it remains to be seen if they’re completely gone or not.

The largest and most impressive display came from not so much a game but the introduction of a long time Sony friend. Hideo Kojima was introduced to a deafening roar of applause and cheering, walking from the depths of the stage forwards as his new “Kojima Productions” logo lowered from the ceiling behind him. Speaking rarely in English he introduced his new title “Death Stranding” (yes that’s not a spelling mistake) in which Norman Reedus (Darryl from The Walking Dead) takes centre stage. In true Kojima fashion the story is going to be an out there one and interestingly PlayStation don’t have the trailer on their official channels but you can catch it in all its glory over on IGN’s here.

The games didn’t stop there though. Other big reveals included Insomniacs apparent open-world  title for Spiderman as well as a lengthy, somewhat redeeming gameplay section of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Horizon Zero Dawn was of course shown off too with an extended gameplay section that to me makes it look more and more like Far Cry the digital de-evolved edition than anything else.

The surprise of the show for me though was “Days Gone”. A title I’d not heard of before during its initial showing early on in the briefing I’d dismissed as “Far Cry: Bikers Edition” (I compare a lot to Far Cry apparently) but had it redeemed when Sony closed out the show with an extended gameplay capture.

All in all Sony brought it. They filled their show with games and announcements that wowed the crowd but as Patrick Klepek wrote on Twitter just after the event. As exciting as their showings were the majority are years away and whilst Microsoft’s presentation may not have had those moments almost everything they spoke about is out later this year.

Also they announced The Last Guardian will be out in October. Bird-dogs for everyone!