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Eric Bangeman White Castle is known for a lot of things, but serving delicious and nutritious food is not one of them. But when word made it to the Orbiting HQ that the oldest fast food chain in the United States was now dishing up Impossible Burgers, we decided we needed to investigate. The White Castle-Impossible Burger partnership is an unlikely one, to be sure. The former is perhaps best known for being the last step in finalizing a massive hangover as well as the intended destination of a hungry duo seeking late-night sustenance. The latter is a plant-based burger that "bleeds," sears, and even purports to taste like a beef-based burger. Earlier this year, a few of my colleagues ventured out to a DC-area burger joint to taste-test the Impossible Burger. The reviews were mixed, with the highest praise coming from Tim Lee, who called it a "convincing imitation" of the real thing.

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Enlarge (credit: Mazda) I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say it has never been easier to get into motorsport. A plethora of grassroots endurance racing series have sprung up in recent years, making wheel-to-wheel racing cheaper than it has been in decades. However, even this route isn't exactly cheap; in addition to your safety gear you'll still need to either build a car to the rules or rent a seat in one. For those without the mechanical skills, space, or budget to build their own race car, there are still other options: video games. After all, unlike most other games, a good racing game teaches you skills that do translate well to the real thing. Arguably, it all started in 2008 with the first Nissan Playstation GT Academy, which used Gran Turismo to find new racing talent. GT Academy proved the concept, and, as racing games have improved, more and more motorsports programs have started taking the idea seriously. Perhaps the best example is McLaren's World's Fastest Gamer competition, the winner of which got a contract as the Formula 1 team's latest simulator test driver. Mazda is the latest company to give it a go; the winner of its new Hot Lap Challenge will get a test next spring in the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup car. There are two ways to win. Starting on Friday (April 13) at the Long Beach Grand Prix in California,...
Enlarge / No, this Lost in Space moment between Will Robinson and his new robot friend isn't followed by a joyous devouring of Reese's Pieces. (credit: Netflix) My patience with Netflix's new Lost in Space reboot ran out at roughly halfway through its first season. The new series' action, dialogue, and plot had ranged from serviceable to truly solid up to that point, and I found myself largely surprised by this family-friendly take on sci-fi survival television. But the custodians of this new Lost in Space, whose first ten episodes are now live on Netflix, aim too high. Gone is the obvious wink-to-camera cheese that made the original '60s show such an embedded piece of the American TV zeitgeist. In its place, we have a serious family drama wrapped up in a hyperspace landing in a distant galaxy. The reboot's best moments—and it definitely has some good ones—are about its heartfelt characters. The same can be said for the worst ones. As a result, a single wave of logic- and rationale-breaking moments take down far too much of Lost in Space's foundation. If that sounds like a dealbreaker to you, then the rest of the show's solid sci-fi world-building, Lost-like character building, and particularly good teen acting may also fail to keep you engaged beyond that same half-season point.

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Enlarge / "It really has been a meaningful journey full of mutual understanding, hasn't it son?" / "Dad, let go, I want to go play with my friends!" Hey, remember Kratos? You know, Kratos... the bloodthirsty Greek god in the God of War series who slaughtered thousands upon thousands of victims, both mortal and immortal, with an icy cold heart largely devoid of mercy? Well... get this. What if Kratos had a kid sidekick? And what if that kid was a sickly, sensitive weakling? Wouldn't that just be crazy? This concept drives the new God of War reboot for the PS4, and at the start it plays out a lot like the cringe-worthy, sitcom-level twist you'd expect from such a pitch. Kratos is now bearded, slightly more aged, and relocated to the cold and unfamiliar climes of Scandinavia. He's paying his final respects to a wife we don't get to see. Left behind with Kratos is a son, the small and frail Atreus, who is over-eager to accompany his dad on a quest to spread his mom's ashes from "the highest peak in all the realms." (That's a welcome respite from the usual "save/destroy the world" impetus driving most action games, at least.) After a slow and somewhat annoying start, though, Atreus proves to be just the shot in the arm this series needed for a new generation of consoles and players. The addition of a child to...
HP While the HP Pavilion line encompasses many types of all-purpose machines, the company is branching out with a new family of gaming PCs. Gone will be the Pavilion Power line, making room for the newly announced Pavilion Gaming family. HP says the line, consisting of laptops and desktops, is for gamers who value both gaming and entertainment but don't need the top-tier specs and customization that come with the company's Omen devices. The 15-inch Pavilion Gaming laptop takes design notes from existing Omen laptops but implements them in a less ostentatious way. The all-black chassis has angled edges for style and venting. HP pushed the fans to the corners of this laptop, which allows more efficient air flow thanks to the vents at the angled corners. Geometric speaker grilles similar to those on other Pavilion laptops sit above the keys, and some models have an all-aluminum keyboard area. Lights underneath the keys and behind the HP logo on the lid offer accents in either white, green, or violet, depending...
Enlarge / Robert Heinlein, L. Sprague de Camp, and Isaac Asimov, Philadelphia Navy Yard, 1944. (credit: Public Domain) As part of its yet-to-launch TV streaming lineup, Apple will develop a series based on Isaac Asimov's highly influential Foundation series of sci-fi novels, both Deadline and Variety report. The series will be helmed by screenwriters and producers David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman, who have individually and previously worked on numerous superhero films and TV series such as Batman Begins, as well as the Terminator franchise. It will be produced by Skydance Television, which is also responsible for the Netflix sci-fi series Altered Carbon. Foundation takes place after humans have colonized the galaxy and is largely concerned with the efforts of a mathematician who develops a way to predict galactic-scale events through a method called psychohistory, and he consequently discovers that the prosperous galactic empire is doomed to fall. He creates a foundation that seeks to lay the groundwork for the civilization's reboot after its inevitable collapse.

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(credit: Aurich Lawson) In light of Internet and social-media privacy landing at the top of major news outlets this week, another major online service announced its own privacy-policy updates on Tuesday. The latest change comes from Steam, the Western world's largest online PC game seller. According to Steam's creators at Valve, an updated settings panel will soon let gamers more clearly decide how their use of the service is communicated to approved friends and the public at large. Within hours of this announcement, one company confirmed the policy change's collateral damage. Steam Spy, the world's most comprehensive game ownership and play estimator available to the public, announced that it "won't be able to operate anymore" thanks to Valve's official policy change. "Valve just made a change to their privacy settings, making games owned by Steam users hidden by default," the site's operators announced on its official Twitter account. "Steam Spy relied on this information being visible by default." In answering questions from fans, Steam Spy creator Sergey Galyonkin suggested that the site will only remain as an "archive" from here on out.

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(credit: Cyan Worlds) Myst and Obduction developer Cyan Worlds launched a Kickstarter on Monday for a complete collection of every Myst title ready to run on Windows 10. The Kickstarter will also cover some extras like original, hand-drawn artwork from the development of Myst's first sequel, Riven, a replica of Ghen's pen and inkwell and a real-life, working Myst linking book—sans actual teleportation, of course. It's labeled the "Myst 25th Anniversary Collection," because September will mark 25 years since Myst's debut. The team at Cyan says it has worked with the team at GOG to update all the games to run in Windows 10. The collection will include Myst, Riven, Myst III: Exiles, Myst IV: Revelation, Myst V: End of Ages, Uru: The Complete Chronicles, and the fully 3D Myst remake realMyst. Cyan says that, to make this happen, it had to acquire the rights to the games in the series that it previously didn't own: Behind the scenes, we’ve been working to procure the legal rights to make all of the Myst games available. As an indie developer, resources are limited for development, and acquiring these rights isn’t always an option. But we’ve finally managed to talk with all the right people in all the right places to garner funds to make it happen! Myst, Riven, Myst V, Uru, and realMyst are all available on GOG and Steam already—and they all work just fine on modern systems. These are the games Cyan already owned the rights to. The other two games—Myst III and...
Enlarge / The controller charging cable shown here is one of the best ways to charge the Switch itself from a USB-A output. (credit: Nintendo) We were overjoyed when we first found out that Nintendo was ditching its usual proprietary charging ports on portable systems in favor of USB-C power for the Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, not all third-party charging cables are created equal, and picking the wrong one can lead to dead hardware or longer-than-necessary charging times. Nintendo is getting a bit more proactive about this problem now, noting in a new Japanese FAQ page (machine translation) that users should only use USB-C cables with a 56kΩ resistor with the Switch. When charging the Switch from a source with the older USB-A output (the boxy, rectangular one), Nintendo recommends only using the official "HAC-010" cable that comes with the Switch Pro Controller or Joy-Con Charging Grip. That cable is also available for individual purchase in Japan, but it doesn't seem to be sold individually in North America. That said, a Nintendo of America support mod recently said that "any USB cable that supports a USB Type C port should work just as well" for controller charging, so maybe being "official" isn't so important in this case.

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Enlarge / You can still buy into and blast through Lawbreakers, but Boss Key confirmed on Thursday that the game's original update "road map" has been effectively canceled. (credit: Nexon / Boss Key) Lawbreakers, the 2017 video game that saw Cliff "cliffyb" Bleszinski (Unreal, Gears of War) come out of game-design retirement, has admitted defeat in the competitive online-shooter fray. A Thursday announcement from developer Boss Key Productions confirmed that the game will only be "supported in its current state," meaning that it will no longer receive major content updates and perhaps not even minor tuning ones. The reason, Boss Key explained, is that Lawbreakers "failed to find enough of an audience to generate the funds necessary to keep it sustained in the manner we had originally planned for and anticipated." The news also included a confirmation that the developer will not convert the $29.99 game to a free-to-play product. "While a pivot to free-to-play may seem like the easiest change to make, a change of this magnitude takes publishing planning and resources to do it," the developer wrote.

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Enlarge / Xbox One X Console Controller. (credit: Microsoft) A video game industry lobby group is joining the lawsuit that seeks to reinstate net neutrality rules in the US, saying that the net neutrality repeal could harm multiplayer online games that require robust Internet connections. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) yesterday filed a motion for leave to intervene so that it can support the case against the Federal Communications Commission. The lawsuit, filed by a mix of Democratic state attorneys general, tech companies such as Mozilla, and consumer advocacy groups, seeks to reverse the FCC's December 2017 vote to eliminate net neutrality rules. The ESA said its members will be harmed by the repeal "because the FCC's Order permits ISPs to take actions that could jeopardize the fast, reliable, and low-latency connections that are critical to the video game industry."

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Enlarge / Which of these gun-toting badasses is actually a toxic player? Ubisoft is taking extra effort to rein in "toxic" behavior among the more than 25 million registered players of Rainbow Six: Siege. In a blog post last night, the company laid out new policies and procedures for limiting hate speech and antisocial in-game behavior in the game, though many of those changes won't go into effect until later this year. The core of the changes centers around players using "racial or homophobic slurs, or hate speech," defined by the game's Code of Conduct as language that's "illegal, dangerous, threatening, abusive, obscene, vulgar, defamatory, hateful, racist, sexist, ethically offensive, or constituting harassment." Following on a Reddit post from last month, Ubisoft says it is now actively tracking how often individual players violate this policy and will be issuing bans ranging from two days to permanent. Rather than always starting with a slap on the wrist for first offenses, though, Ubisoft warns that "particularly egregious offenders can be permanently banned without a warning."

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Enlarge / How often do you see a frying pan meme in a lawsuit? (credit: PUBG Corp) As expected, the massively popular online shooter Playerunknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) has been followed by a wave of imitators, particularly on smartphones. But it has been unclear if or when the game's creators would ever consider legal action against any of these copycats. In particular, a brief chest-puffing incident involving the similar, and hugely popular, Fortnite Battle Royale came and went last year without incident. That changed on Monday with a suit filed against NetEase, a Chinese game publisher with two very PUBG-like games on smartphones. The suit, filed in Northern California's US District Court by PUBG Corp (a wholly owned subsidiary of Korean game publisher Bluehole), alleges both copyright and trademark violations by NetEase's mobile-only games Rules of Survival and Knives Out. Much like PUBG, NetEase's games offer 100-person online battles on an island that players parachute onto. The battles revolve around a constantly shrinking "safe zone," a specific set of military-grade weapons and armor, and a variety of island-crossing vehicles. What's more, NetEase's games beat PUBG to iOS, which invited a substantial number of "PUBG on phone" comparisons before the official version finally hit mobile devices.

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Enlarge / Artist's conception of Mitchell reacting to the news (actually a parody of Mitchell featured in a Regular Show cartoon, but still...) Twin Galaxies, the long-running video game high score tracker recognized by Guinness World Records, has banned Billy Mitchell and removed all of his past scores from its listings after determining that two million-plus-point Donkey Kong performances he submitted were actually created with an emulator and not on original arcade hardware as he consistently claimed. The move means that the organization now recognizes Steve Wiebe as the first player to achieve a million-point game in Donkey Kong, a question central to the 2007 cult classic documentary The King of Kong. Nearly two months ago, Mitchell's scores were also removed from the leaderboards at Donkey Kong Forum. Forum moderator Jeremy "Xelnia" Young cited frame-by-frame analysis of the board transitions in Mitchell's Donkey Kong tapes, which showed visual artifacts suggesting they were generated by early versions of the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME) and not original Donkey Kong arcade hardware. After checking Mitchell's original submitted score tapes and "meticulously test[ing] and investigat[ing] the dispute case assertions as well as a number of relevant contingent factors," the Twin Galaxies administration unanimously determined that two of Mitchell's disputed scores were created by an emulator: A 1.047 million point performance that was highlighted in The King of Kong and a 1.05 million point score achieved at a Mortgage...
An image taken from alleged shooter Nasim Aghdam's personal website. (credit: Nasim Aghdam) As news unfolded about Tuesday's YouTube shooting, a chilling motive emerged. Ahead of the incident, the alleged shooter had posted videos maligning the service—doing so as a former money-making user of the site. "I'm being discriminated [against] and filtered on YouTube, and I'm not the only one," alleged shooter Nasim Aghdam said in a video that was shared after her identity as the shooting's current, sole fatality was revealed. "My workout video gets age-restricted. Vegan activists and other people who try to point out healthy, humane, and smart living, people like me, are not good for big business. That's why they are discriminating [against] and censoring us." The shooting has put a massive spotlight on this topic, which, up until now, has been more likely to appear in angry YouTube videos than on major newspaper headlines. But well before this shooting, Aghdam was just one of many voices on the site to cry foul about YouTube's policies.

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That Steam logo is the only outward sign that this is a Steam Machine and not an Alienware Alpha. [Update, April 4: In a post to the Steam community last night, Valve employee Pierre-Loup Griffais writes that the Steam Machine link on the Steam store front page was removed "based on user traffic." He also acknowledged that "Steam Machines aren't exactly flying off the shelves," while in the same breath adding that "our reasons for striving towards a competitive and open gaming platform haven't significantly changed." Working on Steam Machine hardware, Griffais said, helped Valve "[learn] quite a bit about the state of the Linux ecosystem for real-world game developers out there. We've taken a lot of feedback and have been heads-down on addressing the shortcomings we observed." Griffais also highlighted Valve's continuing work on the Vulkan graphics standard, which now supports Mac and Linux thanks in large part to the company's efforts. "We also have other Linux initiatives in the pipe that we're not quite ready to talk about yet," he continued. "SteamOS will continue to be our medium to deliver these improvements to our customers, and we think they will ultimately benefit the Linux ecosystem at large."]

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Enlarge / With some filters and mod work on the in-game sprites, the PC port of Chrono Trigger is already looking a lot better. (credit: Steam) Update, April 3: In an update posted to the Steam Community today, Square Enix promised a patch coming later this month will "include an option to switch between the current high-resolution graphics and the original graphical style of Chrono Trigger." Done correctly, this patch should save a good deal of effort on the part of the hard-working modders discussed below. The patch is the first of "a number of patches over the coming months" promised by the publisher, which says it is "working very hard on adjusting, updating and supporting Chrono Trigger on Steam." Original story: When Square Enix launched a PC version of RPG classic Chrono Trigger on Steam last week, nearly 23 years after the SNES original came out, fans were surprised. That surprise quickly morphed into dismay as fans noticed some ugly HD filtering on classic character sprites and background art, as well as lazy, big-buttoned menus that look like they came from a port of the iPhone version of the game. (TouchArcade is quick to point out the differences that actually make the PC version look worse.) Indie developer Lars Doucet laid out other problems, including inconsistent pixel sizing and misaligned tiles, in a thorough Gamasutra blog post.

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Enlarge / Scenes like this one of purchasing in-game orcs for real money will soon be removed from Shadow of War. The widespread backlash against paying real money for randomized loot boxes full of in-game items has claimed another high-profile victim. Last night, developer Monolith announced that it will be "permanently removing Gold, War Chests, and the Market" from Shadow of War in the coming months, effectively ending the game's paid microtransaction system. Currently, Shadow of War lets players purchase in-game Gold with real money, then use that Gold to purchase Golden War Chests which contain randomized, high-level Orc followers to fight alongside them. After listening to fan feedback, though, Monolith now says, "the core promise of the Nemesis System is the ability to build relationships with your personal allies and enemies in a dynamic open world. While purchasing Orcs in the Market is more immediate and provides additional player options, we have come to realize that providing this choice risked undermining the heart of our game, the Nemesis System." Furthermore, the developer acknowledges that the mere existence of this paid, randomized marketplace "compromises those same stories even if you don’t buy anything. Simply being aware that they are available for purchase reduces the immersion in the world and takes away from the challenge of building your personal army and your fortresses." That's some major pushback to the standard industry counterargument that players who don't like...
Enlarge / New customers will pay a bit less for this headset with HTC's new tracking bundle announcement. New Vive Pro owners will no longer have to pay over $450 for the tracking and controller accessories needed to use the higher-resolution VR headset. HTC announced this morning that a new SteamVR 1.0 tracking bundle, including two tracking boxes and two hand-tracking controllers, will be available starting Thursday for $299. That brings the "starter" price for a new Vive Pro headset down to about $1,100, while those upgrading from the original Vive can still buy the headset alone for $799. The lower-resolution original Vive package, which also includes two tracking stations and two controllers, now retails for $499, or $200 more than the accessories alone. "Based on feedback we’ve seen, we realize there was some confusion on the upgrade-only headset, so we’re making this new bundle available on for everyone else," HTC said in a statement. "For the majority of consumer users, we believe 1.0 tracking (5 meters by 5 meters) offers a great tracking solution for room-scale VR."

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Enlarge / Wait a second... does JK Simmons have a twin? (credit: Starz) Warning: This post contains references to scenes in the first half of Counterpart S1. All throughout season one of Starz’ Counterpart, we’ve been captivated as much by the show’s inter-dimensional diplomacy and technological advances as its primary spy conflict. This sci-fi/spy mash-up has succeeded in no small part because of its thorough consideration of each and every detail. JK Simmons portrays two major characters, choosing how real-world Howard subtly reacts with a glance versus Prime-world Howard choosing a glare. And series creator Justin Marks handed staff a 10-page manual before production as if they were all employees of the show’s fictional governmental office needing to learn payroll procedures. That subtle-yet-crucial level of scrutiny on the show even extends to things most viewers don’t notice, like the very picture in front of their faces. Veteran cinematographer Luc Montpellier loosely describes the role of a cinematographer as a major to the director/creator’s general, but he oversees everything dealing with image capture (having input on things like lighting and camera selection to staging and post-production feedback). For Counterpart, that meant conceptualizing two distinctly different visual palettes—and being comfortable with the necessary tech tricks to pull off the show’s contrasting sci-fi and vintage flourishes.

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