It has been roughly two years now since Valve shut off the source of Steam Spy's huge, randomly sampled sales estimates and promised a "more accurate and more useful" replacement to come. We got our first glimpse of what that replacement might entail today, as Valve gave a rare glimpse into its treasure trove of aggregate sales data across thousands of PC games.
The blog post sharing that data correctly points out that the raw number of games finding some minimum level of sales success on Steam has increased vastly since 2012 (when Valve launched Steam Greenlight and loosened its tight control of what games could appear on the storefront). But Valve's selective view of the data leaves out a huge mass of games that make less than $5,000 in their first two weeks on Steam's virtual shelves. An Ars analysis finds those titles have made up the vast majority of Steam releases for the last five years.Filling in the holes
To get at that data for the charts above, we started with the graphs Valve itself provided in its blog post today. These lay out the number of games making over $5,000, $10,000, $50,000, $100,000, and $250,000 in their first two weeks, respectively, by release year. I used photo editing software to measure and convert the bars in those graphs into raw numbers, but the actual numbers may be off by a fraction of a percentage point from Valve's internal benchmarks (we didn't decipher the graphs for 2005 and 2006, when the total number of Steam releases was too small to draw much meaningful data).
The coronavirus crisis has forced the closure of libraries around the world, depriving the public of access to millions of printed books. Books old enough to be in the public domain may be available for free download online. Many recent books are available to borrow in e-book form. But there are many other books—especially those published in the mid-to-late 20th century—that are hard to access without going to a physical library.
A consortium of university libraries called HathiTrust recently announced a solution to this problem, called the Emergency Temporary Access Service. It allows participating HathiTrust member libraries to offer their patrons digital scans of books that they can "check out" and read online.
HathiTrust has a history of pushing the boundaries of copyright. It was the defendant in a landmark 2014 ruling that established the legality of library book scanning. At the time, HathiTrust was only allowing people with print disabilities to access the full text of scanned books. Now HathiTrust is expanding access to more people—though still with significant limits.
Parents are urged to consider their children's mental health as they are kept indoors.
We've gone in-depth on the complexity of real-time strategy with a past War Stories episode—one featuring Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun and focusing on the complexity of pathfinding—but classic space strategy title Homeworld is a bird of another color entirely. Its creation in the late '90s was a drawn-out process that required years of crunch time and repeated requests for additional funding from the publisher—but as any gamer who lived through its release can tell you, the results were spectacular.
Homeworld is one of the most famous examples of the genre, not necessarily because it was the first RTS to move the battleground into space—though it did indeed do that, and well—but because the game's implementation of unit-level combat in a 3D playing field was so well done that the UX and game mechanics fade into the background. Zooming in and out of the game's sensor manager map is a slick experience that manages to pull back your view without pulling you out of the game, and even if wrangling your little spaceships did eventually get awkward late in the game, the interface itself feels like the right kind of interface.
So when we sat down with Relic co-founder and Homeworld designer Rob Cunningham, it was a bit surprising to learn that from his perspective the Homeworld we got in 1999 was less a refined and polished set of ideas and more like a minimum-viable proof-of-concept—what Rob describes as a series of sketches rather than full paintings. The small team, buoyed by Sierra's publishing dollars, pulled together an iconic game and invented new gameplay systems more or less by the seat of their pants, finalizing working concepts without really having the chance to iterate and refine them. Even during a development cycle that took three times as long as originally planned, there just wasn't time to do anything more.
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
The Australian summer just gone will be remembered as the moment when human-caused climate change struck hard. First came drought, then deadly bushfires, and now a bout of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef—the third in just five years. Tragically, the 2020 bleaching is severe and the most widespread we have ever recorded.
Coral bleaching at regional scales is caused by spikes in sea temperatures during unusually hot summers. The first recorded mass bleaching event along the Great Barrier Reef occurred in 1998, then the hottest year on record. Since then, we’ve seen four more mass bleaching events—and more temperature records broken—in 2002, 2016, 2017, and again in 2020.
BBC Click's Chris Fox looks at how you can use technology to keep a social life while stuck at home.
In all of the grim statistics of COVID-19’s devastation, one seemingly bright spot has been that children seem to be largely unaffected. They consistently make up small percentages of confirmed cases and nearly all have a mild form of the disease. But as more data accumulates, we’re getting a clearer picture of what COVID-19 looks like in children—and when its youngest victims are not spared from the worst.
On Monday, April 6, public health researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the first data set on pediatric COVID-19 cases in the United States. The report looked at more than 2,500 cases in infants, children, and adolescents under age 18, collectively referred to as “children” in the study. The data was published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The data largely echoes that of pediatric cases seen in China and elsewhere. Children made up a sliver of COVID-19 cases overall and their symptoms appeared largely mild.
Order follows revelations that some Zoom traffic was "mistakenly" routed through China.
Videos will now be deleted if they falsely link coronavirus to 5G mobile networks.
When people in New Guinea started tending crops like yam and fruits around 8,000 years ago, they transformed nearly everything about life on the island. By around 5,000 years ago, people had begun settling in houses supported by wooden posts. The farmers developed new kinds of cutting tools, and they carved stone pestles to prepare yams, fruits, and nuts. They also wove brightly colored fabrics with dyed fibers, elaborate carved stone figures of birds, and traded across 800km of ocean for obsidian.
The details of daily life were uniquely New Guinea. But the big picture—more people, settled village life, new types of stone tools, and a sudden flourishing of symbolic art—might have been familiar to people from other early agricultural societies around the world. Together, those things are a bundle of cultural trends that archaeologists call Neolithic.
Until recently, archaeologists didn’t think New Guinea had developed its own Neolithic culture. Instead, many researchers thought all the trappings of Neolithic village life had arrived around 3,200 years ago with the Lapita, a group of seafaring farmers who came to the island from Southeast Asia. That’s because the few Neolithic artifacts that could be properly dated all seemed to come from after the Lapita arrived. But the people of the small highland village of Waim recently rewrote that narrative with a chance discovery during a local construction project.
A security concern with the Pixel 4 Face Unlock feature is patched, five months after launch.
The Polestar Precept was one of the cars I was most looking forward to seeing in person before the Geneva auto show got cancelled. The brand is a new one, spun out of Volvo with a fully funded mission to build exciting electric vehicles. And the Precept is a statement in that regard, with some interesting things to say about the way an EV can look, both outside and inside, that aren't just a rehash of decades-old conventions. Polestar was evidently sad that it couldn't show off its latest design study to the wider world, too, and so it sent us a bunch of new images of the car while designer Max Missoni hopped on a phone in Sweden to talk to me about the Precept.
Although the Precept is just a design study, it has been designed in parallel with the Polestar 3, a coupe-like SUV that should arrive before the end of 2021. "However, we are always careful to not overpromise and do design studies that are so far away from reality that none of it could be imagined in production," Missoni told me. "A lot of the elements of the Precept are going to resurface in Polestar 3. So, the dimensions and features and design language is quite realistic."
The car's shape has been heavily influenced by the demands of aerodynamic efficiency, which is why there's what looks like a floating-wing element over the nose, as well as a rather unusual rear end.
BBC's technology reporter tests if Quibi's platform with 10-minute or shorter videos could get viewers hooked.
Scotland has much to recommend it: impressive architecture, gorgeous Highlands, and a long, distinguished intellectual tradition that has spawned some of the Western world's greatest thinkers over several centuries. It's also, apparently, home to a medieval manuscript that contains the earliest known usage of the swearword "F#$%."
The profanity appears in a poem recorded by a bored student in Edinburgh while under lockdown as the plague ravaged Europe—something we can all relate to these days. The poem is getting renewed attention thanks to its inclusion in a forthcoming BBC Scotland documentary exploring the country's long, proud tradition of swearing, Scotland—Contains Strong Language.
The Bannatyne Manuscript gets its name from a young 16th-century Edinburgh merchant named George Bannatyne, who compiled the roughly 400 poems while stuck at home in late 1568, as the plague ravaged his city. It's an anthology of Scottish literature, particularly the texts of poems by some of the country's greatest bards (known as makars) in the 15th and 16th centuries. According to a spokeswoman for the National Library of Scotland (where the manuscript is housed), "It has long been known that the manuscript contains some strong swearwords that are now common in everyday language, although at the time, they were very much used in good-natured jest."
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame says drones will become important for his nation, but can they really deliver?
Increased competition and privacy risks are some of the challenges facing workers making the switch.
Boeing announced on Monday evening that it will refly its Starliner spacecraft, without astronauts, to demonstrate the vehicle's safety for NASA.
"We are committed to the safety of the men and women who design, build and ultimately will fly on the Starliner just as we have on every crewed mission to space," Boeing said in a statement. "We have chosen to refly our Orbital Flight Test to demonstrate the quality of the Starliner system. Flying another uncrewed flight will allow us to complete all flight test objectives and evaluate the performance of the second Starliner vehicle at no cost to the taxpayer."
The decision follows the initial uncrewed flight of Starliner in late December, when what was supposed to be a week-long mission was cut to two days and a plan to dock with the International Space Station was abandoned due to a "mission elapsed time" error.
As NASCAR turns to esports as a way to continue racing in an age of social isolation, one up-and-coming driver has found out there are consequences for rage-quitting. Bubba Wallace, whose regular job is driving the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports car, was wrecked in a race held at a virtual Bristol Motor Speedway in iRacing. When his car respawned in the pitlane, Wallace told his Twitch stream "That's it. That's why I don't take this shit seriously. Peace out," as he quit the game instead of rejoining a lap or three down on the leaders.
Fans on Twitter weren't shy of criticizing Wallace's move, which is where things went quickly downhill. After Wallace made light of the fact that he "ruined so many peoples [sic] day by quiting.. [sic] a video game," his major sponsor for the race, Blue Emu, quit him, replying to his tweet with the news that "We're interested in drivers, not quitters."
GTK where you stand. Bye bye Bubba. We're interested in drivers, not quitters.
— Blue-Emu (@BlueEmu1) April 5, 2020
During our last visit to a NASCAR race, a visibly angry Wallace burned rubber in the paddock (and nearly sideswiped this writer) after being wrecked and having to retire early. As we've noted before, the sport is aiming to bring as much of a sense of normality as possible in its temporary switch to esports, and in that regard Wallace's rage-quit seems par for the course. Only that time, it didn't cost him a sponsor.
NASA has experienced an exponential increase in malware attacks and a doubling of agency devices trying to access malicious sites in the past few days as personnel work from home, the space agency’s Office of the Chief Information Officer said on Monday.A new wave
“A new wave of cyber-attacks is targeting Federal Agency Personnel, required to telework from home, during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak,” officials wrote in a memo. The wave over the past few days includes a(n):
The last item is particularly concerning because it suggests that NASA employees and contractors are clicking on malicious links sent in email and text messages at twice the rate as normal. Tricking people into clicking on malicious links or opening malicious email attachments remains one of the easiest ways to gain entry into enterprise networks and individual computers users alike.
Everyone who is (or wants to be) anyone seems to have some opinion or advice about the current COVID-19 crisis. Many of those opinions have been, frankly, quite bad. And someone who makes his money from media appearances trying to disappear those opinions from the Internet after realizing those opinions were, in fact, quite bad, doesn't help matters any.
Dr. Drew Pinsky is up there with Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil on the list of "celebrity doctors whose name you probably know." He soared to fame in the 1990s and 2000s on the back of his TV and radio advice show Loveline. Pinsky, who performs and markets himself as Dr. Drew, is indeed a medical doctor—but he is not an epidemiologist or specialist in infectious disease. He earned his MD from the University of Southern California in 1984 and went to work as a physician, specializing in the treatment of addiction and chemical dependencies, in the decades that followed.
But not being an expert in infectious disease did not stop him from being widely dismissive of the potential threat from COVID-19 throughout the year, even as the threat continued to grow. Dr. Drew is taking the threat seriously now that more than 330,000 people inside the United States have tested positive for the disease and more than 10,000 have died. On Saturday, he released a video apologizing for his earlier comments, which he said were "wrong."