Facebook, Twitter and others band together to fight online extremism

“We believe that by working together, sharing the best technological and operational elements of our individual efforts,” Twitter’s Policy team wrote. “We can have a greater impact on the threat of terrorist content online.” In fact, the GIFCT’s goals are similar in scope to what Facebook discussed in the first installment of its Hard Questions series: “How We Counter Terrorism“.

Specifically, the GIFCT aims to leverage technological solutions, such as the Shared Industry Hash Database and machine vision-based detection systems, with people-based knowledge-sharing schemes as part of a joint partnership with the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (UN CTED) and the ICT4Peace Initiative. This includes developing best practice methods in how to deal with extremist content online and then sharing it with the rest of the industry, especially smaller businesses that otherwise don’t have the resources to address this issue.

The group will also work to facilitate industry-wide cooperation for counterspeach efforts. To that end, it will be hosting a series of workshops on these subjects in the coming weeks and months, though no set dates have been announced yet.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/26/facebook-twitter-and-others-band-together-to-fight-online-extre/

‘Rocket League’ will die without cross-console multiplayer

Sony is the only hold out for connecting its PS4 players to folks on other consoles. Dunham said that since Rocket League‘s launch, at least one person from his team has been in contact with PlayStation “every single day” since. The topic of cross-network multiplayer has come up several times, but the response rarely changes.

“There have been slight variations on how it’s been presented to us, but essentially it’s the same answer,” he said. “It’s ‘not right now” or, ‘It’s something we’ll consider.’ That’s paraphrasing, but there hasn’t been any movement.”

In contrast, when Psyonix approached Nintendo about cross-network play, the studio had a positive response the same day. Microsoft took a bit longer.

“I think it was only about a month after our release, maybe less, that [Microsoft] said, ‘Okay we’re gonna go ahead and do it. You guys are gonna be the first [to have cross-network play].”

Dunham said that once cross-network play is available for every game — not just his own — that games with shorter lifespans (think: the yearly turnover of CoD) will naturally reverse the attrition.

He gave the example of a family where one cousin could only afford a $299 Nintendo Switch and another had the $500 Xbox One X. Both will be able to play Rocket League and Minecraft together this fall despite being wildly different pieces of hardware and technology. “That means a lot to that family. Imagine how many friends and families that’d mean a lot to.”

Warm sentiments aside, cross-network play makes a lot of sense for other reasons. Having access to more players would result in faster matchmaking, better matches and access to better opponents, according to Dunham. In fact, Sony has already allowed it for games that have a dismal player count. Early last year DC Universe Online (a PS4 launch title) opened up cross-platform play between PC, PlayStation 3 and PS4. Last autumn, Eve: Valkyrie for PlayStation VR could connect to players on both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift for online space dogfights. Knowing that the company can do it, Sony only looks stubborn for not playing nicely with competitor’s consoles more broadly.

Seemingly, in response to Sony’s recent comments that cross-network play wouldn’t be appropriate for players of all ages, Dunham said that his team already has safeguards in place.

You can’t use voice to communicate via cross-platform, for instance. All you can do is use pre-written quick chat messages. If a Steam user has an off-color name, there’s a filter in place to block it out. Essentially, you can’t even tell if someone you’re playing against is on a different piece of hardware than you.

“We have all these protections in place to ensure your experience isn’t terrible,” he said. “There’s always gonna be trolls that can find a way to do anything, but that’s not platform agnostic — that’s universal.”

Psyonix has tested cross-network play extensively in closed environments to make sure that Xbox-to-PlayStation play is actually possible, and Dunham said that it works seamlessly. It’s just a matter of matching network protocols and requirements from the disparate systems.

“I don’t view it as a competitive loss to allow cross-network play,” he said. “I view it as a competitive disadvantage not to have it. Especially if you’re the only one [holding out].” With Sony being the odd company out, if there’s enough public demand for the feature hopefully the leading console seller will reconsider.

“I don’t think anything is ever a done deal,” Sony’s Jim Ryan recently told Eurogamer. “Anybody who is dogmatic in that manner is typically a fool.

“That said, to my knowledge, there is no live conversation ongoing at the moment.” So much for that idea, then.

Follow all the latest news from E3 2017 here!

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/24/rocket-league-cross-network-play-ps4-xbox-one-interview/

Keiichi Yano wants to make a music game with heart

Express yourself

For years, Yano and Matsuura have dreamed of a music game that allows the player to be more expressive. In the past, when they discussed potential collaborations, it was often about music manipulation, tracks that would change tempo depending on your performance or branch into different styles at the press of a button. Some of these concepts have since been explored, but at the time, they were wholly original. Both designers craved an experience in which the player could feel she was creating something truly original and personal in real-time.

“How can music be more interactive and play a more defining role rather than be just, I dunno, the base layer that everything goes on top of?” Yano said. “Because that’s what modern music games do today, right? It’s all essentially supported by the music itself. And the music itself doesn’t change, because they’re usually songs that you and I both know. So you’re just building gameplay mechanics on top of that.” Instead, Yano wanted the music to be driven by the gameplay.

“[Matsuura] and I were both musicians and instrumentalists, so we really understand and love the interactiveness, if that’s a word, of musical instruments,” Yano said. “Because that’s the coolest thing, right? It’s cool to press something and then suddenly the sound is just … awesome. You’re immersed in that, and there’s a feeling against that. So that’s what we’re always trying to do.”

“We really understand and love the interactiveness, if that’s a word, of musical instruments.”

That’s easier said than done. Mainstream video games need to be approachable and easy to understand. That restricts the number of options you can give the player at any one time. Push too far toward realism, for instance, and you’ll end up with a piece of professional audio software. Go too far the other way and you’ll make a thoroughly enjoyable but creatively limiting title like Guitar Hero. “On some level, you need to virtualize the experience so that it’s still entertainment,” Yano adds. “But at the same time, let the player feel like they’re making important choices.”

Rap battles

To that end, Yano and Matsuura developed a rap-battle simulator. Project Rap Rabbit is split into two phases: call and response, which mimics how lyricists spar in real life. As your opponent tries to embarrass you, the game will highlight “focus words” that make up the bulk of his argument. A mood wheel will then show up in the corner of the screen, giving you time to choose a counter-rapping style. Coerce, joke, boast or laugh — it’s up to you. During the response phase, you’ll be asked to press buttons rhythmically with the beat and hit specific triggers when the focus words appear in your own lyrics.

Enemies will be susceptible to different rapping styles. As the difficulty ramps up, these weaknesses will change midbattle. You’ll need to read the situation and, at certain junction points, change your strategy in order to deal extra damage. Toto-Maru will also have a skill tree, similar to conventional role-playing games, so you can define his strengths and shortcomings as a rapper. It all adds to the game’s depth, which far outstrips Gitaroo Man and PaRappa the Rapper. Expert players, for instance, will learn to combo by quickly alternating between rap styles, or using the turntable-inspired sample technique that requires double, triple and quadruple-tapping specific focus words.

If all goes to plan, Project Rap Rabbit will have multiplayer too. Yano wants the game to be technical and competitive — the musical equivalent of Street Fighter or Tekken. So, unlike Rock Band, which offers a simple score chase, Project Rap Rabbit will put two players head-to-head. “So it’s all about, ‘If you do this, I’m going to counter with this, and then if you’re going to counter with this, I’m going to counter with something else.'” That’s why the call and response phases are so crucial. Like a high-speed game of chess, top players will need to plan multiple moves ahead.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/23/project-rap-rabbit-keiichi-yano-interview/

‘Overwatch’ loot boxes will have fewer duplicates

Beginning with Hearthstone‘s next expansion pack, you will no longer receive duplicates of cards until you have every single Legendary card from that specific set. This applies whether you have the golden or non-golden version of a card. What’s more, you will no longer receive more duplicate cards than you can use in a deck. When you open a new set, you will also receive a Legendary within your first ten packs — guaranteed. The result of all these changes? Players will likely have more Legendary cards than they have now.

Additionally, Overwatch‘s game director Jeff Kaplan made some interesting announcements in their latest developer video update. If you’ve been frustrated by receiving duplicate cosmetic items in loot boxes, that will no longer be a problem. Kaplan says, “One of the things that we’re going to do is drastically reduce the rate of duplicates that you’ll get out of any loot box.” It’s not eliminating the issue entirely, but the team hopes that the change will be “immediately evident,” and that as a result players will buy many, many more loot boxes.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/23/overwatch-loot-boxes-fewer-duplicates/

NBC is the next big TV network to jump into eSports

Seemingly every big TV network wants in on eSports. NBC Sports has revealed that it’s launching an international two-on-two Rocket League tournament this summer. It’ll start online July 22nd with regional qualifiers using Faceit’s eSports platform, but players will eventually face each other in person through studio competitions and the grand finals on August 26th and 27th. Naturally, there will be plenty of video coverage: NBC is promising over 40 hours across both online sources and TV, including live coverage of the finals on NBCSN (in the US) and Syfy (in the UK and other countries).

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/21/nbc-is-the-next-big-tv-network-to-jump-into-esports/

Charmin’s ‘Van-Go’ is the on-demand toilet NYC deserves

If you feel the need to pop a squat on Wednesday or Thursday and don’t want to simply poop in the gutter like we did in the good old Cholera days, go to CharminVanGo.com, follow the instructions and pretty soon a modified runner van will arrive for you to defecate in.

Not only will you be able to poop privately on a minibus parked in some of NYC’s busiest neighborhoods, but Anthony Anderson, star of ABC’s hit family sitcom Black-ish, will be onboard as well, “surprising and delighting people with bathroom humor along the route” according to Business Wire.

The vans will be in operation between 8am and 5pm ET. On Wednesday the 21st, they’ll be available for hire at Columbus Circle on W. 57th, Herald Square and Bryant Park. On Thursday the 22nd, you can find them at the Lincoln Center, the High Line, Rockefeller Plaza and Union Square.

Charmin’s promotion, albeit temporary, joins the growing ranks of wacky on-demand products. These days you can get everything from snacks to scooters, manual labor to McDonald’s meals, with just a couple of clicks. At least now when that drone-delivered sushi makes you sicker than that time you ate gas station nachos, you won’t have to hold it till you get home. You’ll just have to make small talk with Anthony Anderson.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/21/charmins-van-go-is-the-on-demand-toilet-nyc-deserves/

Uber belatedly offers tipping as part of its renewed focus

First and foremost, riders can finally tip their drivers — at least in Minneapolis, Seattle and Houston starting today, which Uber promises to roll out nationwide by the end of July. Cancellation fees now trigger after two minutes, down from five, and drivers will now get paid to wait for passengers after two minutes of waiting. Drivers also get a $2 bump to the base fare for teen riders, assumedly to make up for having to drive teen riders anywhere. Uber’s also set up optional injury protection insurance and bumped up the per-mile rate to ostensibly make up for the cost.

Uber belatedly offers tipping as part of its renewed focus
Drivers are encouraged to restart their Uber apps to see if their area has been rolled into these improvements, which are expanding to all US cities on an undisclosed schedule. This is just the first batch in a series of additions to come once a month for the next 180 days, Uber’s mea culpa states, concluding that we should “Look out for the next round of improvements in July.”

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/20/uber-adds-tipping-and-teen-fares-to-make-drivers-happy/

Instagram adds 24-hour live video replays to Stories

Now, when the live broadcast ends, you’ll see “Share” at the bottom of the screen. When you do, the video will be available for 24 hours, just like all other Story content. Of course, if you’d rather not share that live video in the first place, you can tap an option to discard the video instead.

If you did though, your followers will know you’ve shared a replay if they see a play button in your profile photo. Viewers of live video replays will not only see the video playback, but also all the likes and comments that happened during the broadcast. Tapping right will fast forward the video 15 seconds and tapping left will rewind it by 15 seconds. If there are multiple replays, arrows at the top will let you jump between them. Number of viewers will include those who watched it live as well as in Stories.

Instagram adds 24-hour live video replays to Stories

Letting viewers watch the replay of live video for 24 hours puts Instagram on par with Periscope, which has done so from the very beginning. However, Periscope has an indefinite storage option, which gives it a slight edge if you prefer flexibility. Still, seeing as Stories are supposed to be ephemeral anyway, a vanishing Instagram replay seems a good fit. Plus, you can always repost the full video in your regular Insta feed if you want it to be more permanent.

Speaking of Stories, Instagram made yet another announcement today: it now has 250 million daily users on Instagram Stories, which is up from the 200 million it announced just last April. This is quite a bit higher than the number of daily users on Snapchat, which is reported to be around 166 million. With Stories and Live Video (which Snapchat lacks, by the way), Instagram seems to be doing quite well, even if it did kinda, sorta, steal a few ideas.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/20/instagram-live-video-replay/

Ripplemaker brings modular synths to all skill levels with an iOS app

To start, all the modules are already wired. If you just want to play with a monosynth, you can get started right away. It’s only when you want to experiment that you have to think about patch cables. There’s also a separate sequencer that encourages dabbling in new sounds, complete with a random pattern generator that can get you started. Of course, you can sync with other apps and devices (in this case, through either Ableton Link or MIDI Clock) and export your creations as MIDI or WAV files.

Ripplemaker is available right now for $9. That’s not the lowest price we’ve seen for a synth app, but it’s better than the $20 to $30 you tend to pay for similar software. Professional musicians aren’t likely to balk at higher prices, of course (it’s still a bargain compared to a real synth setup), but the low cost makes it easier to jump in if you’re a first-timer or hobbyist.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/19/ripplemaker-modular-synth-app/

Lyft’s dashboard display helps drivers with hearing impairments

Typically, Lyft drivers hear an audible “ping” when they get a new ride, which isn’t the best way to notify someone with a hearing impairment. Now, though, Lyft will visually notify its drivers of a new ride with large text on the company’s new in-car display, Amp. This device already lights up, changes color, and can send little happy messages to riders; why not add something to benefit the driver, too?

Lyft has also started letting riders know when their driver is deaf or hard of hearing. Before the car arrives, passengers will get a text message telling them to contact their driver via text instead of voice, and to let the driver lead the communication when in the car. It’s such a simple thing, it’s hard to believe it wasn’t already happening.

The ridesharing company has partnered with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) to continue improving its app. It also hopes to promote awareness of opportunities for the deaf and hard of hearing and promote the importance of equal access to policymakers.

Uber has similar features to what Lyft announced today, though it’s all done via the Uber app instead of a hardware add-on in the car. When a new ride is available, Uber drivers will see a flash on their smartphone’s screen instead of just a sound, and passengers also get a notification about their driver’s status. Simple changes to existing hardware and software like this make everything much nicer for all of us, regardless of ability.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/20/lyft-hearing-impairments/