Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13 is coming to Steam in English

Koei Tecmo announced today that Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13 is coming to Steam on July 5. “But wait!” you say. “Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13 is already on Steam!” And yes, you are correct—but that one only supports Japanese, while this, my friends, is the English version.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13 promises “deep strategy and historically accurate warfare,” with city management, diplomacy, and “a wide selection of options for conflict resolution,” which is an amusing way of saying big armies composed of infantry, cavalry, artillery, and even naval units. You can play as one of one of 700 historical characters, or choose to create one of their own instead. Two game modes are supported: Campaign Mode, in which you’ll select a starting year and custom board options before setting out to conquer the world, and Hero Mode, an in-depth tutorial that also provides “an alternative way to relive the exciting lives and adventures of those heroes before proceeding to leave their own mark on history.”

I’ve put out the feelers to Koei Tecmo to find out if there are any changes being made to this release of the game aside from the translation, and I’ll let you know what I hear.

 

[Source:- PCgamer]

Office 365 is king of business web apps, but Slack is growing fastest

Office 365 is king of business web apps, but Slack is growing fastest

Which is the most popular business app used online? Unsurprisingly, it’s Office 365, the subscription version of Microsoft’s productivity suite, according to some new research which details the most-used web apps.

These figures were revealed by Okta, a firm which produces software to manage employee logins to online services. The company found that among its customers, Office 365 was king of the enterprise cloud apps, followed by Salesforce.com, Box, Google Apps for Work, and in fifth place was Amazon Web Services.

Okta also made an interesting observation regarding Office 365 and Google Apps both being used within the same organisation. Indeed, data showed that over 40% of companies use both of these services due to preferences for one or the other in different departments.

Not slacking

As for the fastest growing business app, that was Slack, which witnessed a growth rate of 77% in the second half of 2015. We can expect Slack to put in a very good showing this year, by all accounts, as it’s continuing to pick up the pace with “no sign of slowing down just yet” Okta says.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud also had a good year in 2015, growing its user numbers by 44% according to the report.

One final nugget on business security for you: Okta found that 30% of organisations are now using multi-factor authentication, a number that still needs to increase in an ideal world.

[Source:- Techrader]

 

How Microsoft is serious about supporting Linux and cloud rivals with OMS

How Microsoft is serious about supporting Linux and cloud rivals with OMS

When Microsoft first announced its new Operations Management Suite (OMS) cloud monitoring service last May, it wasn’t the case that handling Linux systems was an afterthought, but the tools certainly didn’t have parity with what you could do for Windows Server.

At the time, Jeremy Winter, who runs the OMS team, talked about Linux as being “on our roadmap to come” with the first option being deploying Microsoft’s own management agent into a Linux VM – which could be on AWS or VMware, not just Windows Server or Azure.

In the old Microsoft days, things might have stayed at that level, like a cloud version of the System Center approach. But the way Microsoft approaches cross-platform is rather different now and even veterans of System Center like Robert Reynolds understand that Microsoft needs to fit in with the existing Linux ecosystem, and that’s why the Linux agent for OMS is now a plugin to the popular Fluentd, even though Microsoft had originally experimented with an agent for the Linux systemd service manager.

Working with the community

“When we started the preview, we had our own management agents,” Reynolds explains, “but the Linux community said to us ‘we already have agents deployed, there’s already an open agent infrastructure’. So we worked with the community to find out which agent they preferred, which one they thought would be the long-term choice and the majority of people we’re working with have adopted Fluentd, so we went with that.”

And in a move that would have once been unusual but is quickly becoming ‘business as usual’ at Microsoft, the OMS plugin for Fluentd is being open sourced. “We’re Microsoft, so there’s scepticism,” admits Reynolds. “We’re going to earn it. Part of earning that support and trust in the Linux community is being part of it, so that’s how we’re making decisions for Linux support and how we’re delivering them.”

There’s already support for connecting to existing open source monitoring services like Nagios and Zabbix from OMS. “We have the ability to plug in to those existing data streams. So instead of having to go replace an entire infrastructure or technology that’s already there, things like Nagios and Zabbix we can immediately connect to and start to pump the data in from.”

The OMS team has also started working on allowing customers to create custom logs and environments – that work will continue through the next year, he says. But the willingness to work with the Linux community has already led to what he calls “steady growth – 10% and more a month – in on-boarding Linux machines” since the Fluentd plugin came out last October.

Supporting rivals

There’s the same commitment to supporting VMware and rival clouds like AWS and OpenStack. “With our backup service in OMS, we support VMware backups, so machines running on VMware can be backed up from one VMware environment to another VMware environment that’s running on-premises, and we managed to simplify a lot of the technology that’s needed there.

“That also allows us to do VMware to Azure to give you failover sites. And we did RedHat support so that you can have VMware and RedHat instances that are being protected to Azure.”

The same approach applies to managing virtual machines, wherever they are. “There are two ways to think about a bunch of VMs,” he points out. “We can go and put agents in them, but the other option is that the platform itself will provide some monitoring and manageability and we can plug into that instead. In AWS, for example, that’s CloudWatch, and over time we’ll connect to those APIs and be able to collect data and analyse that.”

For alerts, you can already use a webhook to send an OMS alert to a range of services. “You can just cut and paste the webhook URL from PagerDuty, Zendesk, Slack; anything that supports webhook. And that’s a big, big list.”

“The notion of making sure that it’s truly on any operating system is key,” says Reynolds. “If you want to get the 100% view, at the right level of fidelity, into your environment, this is where we’re bringing all this data together.”

 
[Source:- Techrader]

Rocket League’s basketball-themed Dunk House mode is coming in April

Rocket League Basketball

As someone who spent about a week playing Rocket League very badly, the prospect of a basketball-themed mode makes me tense up. And yet, anyone who has played Rocket League for a reasonable period of time will probably have the skills needed to tap a giant basketball into a giant hoop with a rocket-powered vehicle. It’s a skill that will be put to the test next month, as Psyonix has confirmed it’s coming to the game some time in April.

 

Best of all, Dunk House will be a free map and mode combo. Whether it’ll stick around forever or if it’s just a temporary jaunt is yet to be seen, but as Angus noted when the mode was revealed last month, it’s unlikely to make it to competitive playlists. Just as well, really.

 
[Source:- PCgamer]

Fallout 4’s Far Harbor DLC is Larger Than Oblivion’s Biggest DLC

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Publisher Bethesda reveals that Fallout 4‘s forthcoming expansion pack known as Far Harbor is larger than the biggest DLC for The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion.

With Fallout 4‘s Automatron DLC having been recently released, fans of Bethesda’s popular post-apocalyptic RPG have now turned their attention to the title’s forthcoming add-ons. As it happens, one gamer took to Twitter to ask the studio’s Vice President of PR and Marketing, Pete Hines, about the magnitude of Fallout 4‘s Far Harbor content, which resulted in the executive saying “it’s bigger in size than Shivering Isles,” which was The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion‘s biggest DLC package.

For those unaware, Shivering Isles was the first expansion pack for Oblivion, and it brought loads of fresh materials, including a map about a quarter of the area of Cyrodiil, which is Elder Scrolls 4 main setting. Bearing that in mind, it makes sense as to why Bethesda’s intent to charge $25 for Fallout 4‘s Far Harbor as a standalone download.

Prior to Hines’ confirmation of Fallout 4‘s forthcoming expansion pack being bigger than Oblivion‘s most massive add-on, the post-apocalyptic RPG’s director, Todd Howard, had confirmed the Far Harbor DLC contains the largest landmass created by Bethesda yet, but revealed it actually has a little less playable content than Shivering Isles. Of course, even though Fallout 4‘s upcoming island adventure doesn’t include as much as Oblivion‘s giant expansion, it doesn’t mean that the quality is going to be poor. If anything, fans should expect a rollicking good time with the studio slightly paring down the content to include better faction quests, settlements, creatures, dungeons, as well as higher-level armor and weapons.

Before Fallout 4‘s Far Harbor expansion launches in May, however, fans of the game may be more excited to receive the title’s Survival Mode, which is receiving a PC beta build this week. While the add-on will surely provide plenty of new content, some Wastelanders may have a heavier hankering to ratchet up Fallout 4‘s difficulty.

fallout-4-far-harbor-dlc-size-oblivion-energy-weapon

While all of Fallout 4‘s DLC offerings for story and typical gameplay elements are certainly appealing, the April release date of Wasteland Workshop — that is, Bethesda’s extensive enlargement of the action-RPG’s crafting options — is arguably the most anticipated add-on yet. After all, giving fans a larger swathe of design options for settlements to create a more livable home and customize the title’s assets even more has sort of become an extremely time-consuming game in and of itself.

At any rate, all of the previously mentioned materials — Automatron, Wasteland Workshop, and Far Harbor — are set to provide Fallout 4 players with plenty more reasons to jump back into the Boston Commonwealth. In truth, the only decision fans have to make at this point is whether or not to pick up the DLC separately at individual prices, or to go all-in with the Season Pass for $50.

Fallout 4 is out now and is available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Source: Pete Hines – Twitter (via VG 24/7)

 

[Source:- Gamerant]

Here’s Why Twitter is so Important, to Everyone

Twitter’s strength is real-time. No other social platform comes close on this front. While Facebook is trying to compete and Snapchat offers a unique perspective on the theme, Twitter remains our best indicator of the wider pulse of the world and what’s happening within it.

This is probably the biggest tragedy of the current troubles at the mico-blog giant – if Twitter’s forced to change how it operates and/or reduce its capacity to be a measure of what’s happening, always and anytime, then it’s not just Jack Dorsey and Twitter’s shareholders that’ll lose out. It’s everyone. The data provided by Twitter, and the insights we’re able to glean from them, can be truly world-changing, in more ways than most people realize. While the main stories you hear about the platform are Kanye West asking Mark Zuckerberg for a billion dollars or Donald Trump quoting facist dictators, there’s far more to Twitter than celebrity gossip. It’s a significant part, for sure, but there’s much more value to be gained from tweets. And the more people use it, the higher than value becomes.

But then, of course, the opposite is also true.

Health and Safety

In September last year Twitter published a post which looked at how the US geological survey was using tweet data to track earthquakes. Using a surprisingly uncomplicated process, the USGS had found that by tracking mentions of the term ‘earthquake’, within specific parameters which they’d defined, they could better track seismic activity across the globe than they’d been able to via their previous measurement systems.

Now, that’s not necessarily life changing, right? Tracking earthquake activity after the fact, as reported by Twitter users, that might be great for academic purposes, but it would be far more valuable if they could actually predict such activity. Yet that’s, essentially, what USGS aims to do – researchers are now working to better integrate Twitter data into their reporting systems to improve their seismic algorithms and speed up alerts in order to expedite response – both to the earthquakes themselves and subsequent aftershocks in surrounding regions.

The fact that this is even possible is testament to the wider power of Twitter – sure, it’s feasible to suggest that similar insights could be gleaned from Facebook posts, but privacy restrictions and algorithms make it virtually impossible to do, and people have learned to use Twitter as a breaking news source, as a means to share their voice in such situations with the wider world. In this sense, Twitter remains unmatched – it’s capacity to provide emergency, potentially life-saving, data analysis in real-time is game-changing.

Here’s another one – for some time now, researchers have been working with Twitter data to better predict flu outbreaks. During the 2012-13 flu epidemic, researchers formulated a method to extract relevant data, based on tweets, to help them correlate the spread of the disease with a view to reducing its impact. Their system was able to “detect the weekly change in direction (increasing or decreasing) of influenza prevalence with 85% accuracy, a nearly twofold increase over a simpler model”.

The benefits of such a system are significant – here are the noted conclusions from that same report:

“Real-time tools such as our system have the potential to enable clinicians to anticipate the need for surges in influenza-like illness up to two weeks in advance of existing data collection strategies. Early knowledge of an upward trend in disease prevalence can inform patient capacity preparations and increased efforts to distribute the appropriate vaccine or other treatment, whereas knowledge of a downward trend can signal the effectiveness of these efforts. In addition, policymakers may use such data sources to track the spread of influenza at national and municipal levels.”

Consider this in the context of the current Zika virus outbreak, or Ebola in years past. The implications are enormous – and again, this is modelled on the back of real-time data from Twitter. No other source provides the same capacity for trend tracking.

And these examples are not isolated – Twitter data is being used to track and respond to flood damage in Jakarta, to monitor civil unrest in Egypt, to predict crime in the US. These use cases highlight the societal benefits of Twitter data, beyond just keeping up with cultural trends. Rather than seeing it as a short-form message service mainly populated by Millennials, Twitter is a powerful data engine with wide-reaching benefits.

Off to Market

But of course, that’s not all Twitter data can predict. While Twitter’s user base has remains relatively stagnant – something you’ve no doubt read about in any number of other posts – its 320 million active users provide enough data to generate indicative data on almost any major trend or shift. Including the rise and fall of individual stock prices.

In a blog post on the Twitter Data blog earlier this week, the platform highlighted how three financial services firms are using Twitter data to deliver better predictive results. Eagle Alpha, for example, formulates ‘expert networks’ on Twitter, groups of people who are relevant to specific stocks, then monitors their tweets to determine stock-relevant trends.

As per the Twitter Data post:

“When the Apple Watch was released last year, Eagle Alpha turned to Twitter data to build a 3,000 person consumer panel to derive early insights that fundamental analysts would use to evaluate consumer reaction to the product. They analyzed topics such as delivery times, battery life, and app feedback. Through this, one notable data point emerged: the panel reported 100% satisfaction with their battery life, which was in stark contrast to the high volume of battery life concerns being reported by the media.” 

LikeFolio, meanwhile, uses Twitter data to detect shifts in consumer behavior before these shifts translate to the stock price. For example, LikeFolio recently alerted customers of declining Twitter conversation and sentiment around Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut eight weeks ahead of a poor earnings result from the parent company Yum! Brands. Yum stock dropped 30% in the time between the LikeFolio alert and the earnings announcement, providing ample time for LikeFolio clients to act.

And another data-tracking firm TickerTags uses Twitter conversations to keep tabs on stock relevant trends based on conversations around specific products. When TickerTags noted a boost in on-platform conversation around Shopkins toys, they recommended traders buy up shares in retailer Five Below, which subsequently went on to report a 24% increase in net sales on the back of the toy’s popularity.

Twitter data is now incorporated into most stock analyst systems, including Bloomberg’s

While these may seem like somewhat obvious measures to track, it’s in the actual tracking that the difficulty exists. Smart companies are learning what’s required to extract the insights that are flowing through the 500 million tweets sent every day, 6,000 sent every minute. And while Twitter’s audience pales in comparison to Facebook, it’s still enough, in concentration, to detect relevant trends.

But imagine how much more powerful it could be if everyone was tweeting?

If these are the types of insights we can gain from 320 million users, what would be able to do with the data from 600 million. Or more.

The capacity for Twitter to become an essential feed of real-time information, able to detect highly relevant, geographically-focused trends and insight – data which would be of immense value to me and you and everyone you know – depends on the level of usage of the platform within the target region. Right now, on a wide scale, Twitter can detect important trends – but with more users, Twitter could be a predictive engine for… well, almost anything.

The Rise and Fall

And this is why it’s disappointing to see Twitter take-up slowing, user growth stalling, interest in the platform waning. Because it’s more valuable than people know. Twitter’s not done a great job at communicating this, mind you, and their efforts to highlight the true value of the platform have been more focused on entertainment and trends. And that may be the only way to get people to use Twitter more often – no doubt they’ve done the demographic modelling and worked out the key audiences most likely to contribute to their growth. But Twitter data is so powerful, so valuable – what’s frustrating to contemplate is that in Twitter failing to grow, we all, essentially, fail to grow with them through such insights.

Of course, there’s other sources of data, Facebook has more information on you and what you’re interested in than any other source in history, Linkedin has the biggest database of professional knowledge ever created. But nothing beats Twitter’s capacity to deliver real-time, up to the minute info on what’s happening, right now. And as these examples highlight, that can be extremely powerful, and can help us understand a great many things.

Don’t view Twitter as a stream of nonsense and Justin Beiber fans complaining about their first-world problems, view Twitter as an up-to-the-moment track of everything that’s happening. Whatever you want to know, wherever that may be, you can find it here. Considered from that perspective, the value of the platform takes on a new importance.

And believe me, it’s not something we want to lose.

[Source:- Socialmediatoday]

Opinion: Trolling in The Division is Actually a Good Thing

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While The Division‘s launch might not be the smoothest in gaming history, one writer believes the recent drama concerning player griefing in-game is missing the point.

I was thirteen when I started playing Halo 2 online. I had to convince my parents that an online subscription fee just to play games I already owned anyways was worth it, an endeavor I had imagined would carry me to age fifteen before I actually managed any progress. Somehow, the argument only lasted a few weeks, and an excellent report card later, I had a network cable hooked into the back of my Xbox and an Xbox Live subscription in my dad’s name. I was ready to dive in to the world of online, competitive Halo 2.

It took approximately twenty minutes before I’d shut the game off and removed my headset. While I would play Halo 2 online with friends and at LANs, I’d never play the multiplayer online on my own with a headset on again. I don’t know what the many early teens playing what I consider to be Bungie’s magnum opus were going through in high school, but if my conversations with them in that twenty minutes were any indication, they were very angry about it.

Player griefing isn’t a concept unique to shooters within the gaming industry, and it can take a number of different forms. In MMOs like World of Warcraft, for instance, gamers adventuring on a PvP server are liable to run into high-level trolls (the personality, not the race) who will kill them incessantly. Some will even patiently wait for the player to run back to their corpse and resurrect themselves, only to find that the ganker had merely moved out of their line of sight to kill them again. In shooters, however, griefing often gets a lot more personal. Playing online often puts players into groups of strangers armed with both internet anonymity and a microphone, and the results are about as pleasant as one would typically expect.

In my first hours with The Division, however, I’ve run into the same kind of griefing many others have reported on. Ubisoft has included player collision detection within its new game, and while it has certainly made The Division a bit more realistic, it has also led to the kind of problems that veterans of MMOs could have told the developers about when they first conceived of the idea. When a game is expected to have thousands of people playing it online at any given time, giving players the ability to physically impose a roadblock on others is likely going to cause some issues, whether they are doing it intentionally or not. Case in point – the frequent Agents acting like bouncers around entrances to the Dark Zone or safe houses, impeding player progress while doing jumping jacks.

the division troll blocking doorway player collision

Like many gamers, I was irritated by the fact that people were logging into The Division with the express purpose to make others’ experiences with the game slightly more inconvenient. While exiting the Dark Zone after a successful loot run wherein I formed a ragtag trio of Agents working together to kill PKers, however, the thought dawned on me – it was quiet. While the local voice-chat had allowed me to direct my new allies toward the occasional enemy, there was not an incessant string of gibberish coming from those around me. Even better, had that been the case, The Division offers players in the Dark Zone the chance to go rogue and kill their teammates at any point. I am, sadly, not above using an online replication of a shotgun to halt the curse-laden ramblings of a fourteen year-old should I be forced to listen to them.

Essentially, The Division as a shooter seems to offer a caveat to the usual online experience in the genre. Ubisoft has made it much less likely to run into the quintessential FPS troll at the small cost of a three-to-ten second inconvenience around doorways and mission hubs. It might not be a perfect system, but that’s a trade I’m willing to make whenever the offer is made.

Of course, running into people and intentionally trying to make another player’s time with the game difficult or irritating is never fun, but the freedom to do so is essential as games evolve into more MMO/insert-other-genre-here hybrids by basing more of their content online. Developers are constantly looking toward what will keep a playerbase ensnared within a single product for as long as possible, and, at least for pure MMOs like Black Desert Online, the answer has been to let players do as much as they possibly can, and that includes being mean to others. MMOs have had griefers for as long as they’ve had PvP and player hubs, but the genre hasn’t suffered any from the existence of these gamers.

That’s because certain levels of player griefing are objectively more acceptable than others. While griefing over an internet connection and voice chat can lead to genuinely scarring or hurtful occurrences, PKing can simply lead to a frustrated player logging out and taking some time off, while blocking entrances and exits is even more harmless than the norms established in both shooters and MMOs. Players are likely much happier having their march to The Division‘s end-game temporarily halted by somebody doing their best impression of a pylon than someone harassing them over chat.

the division dark zone loot pick up

Am I arguing that the players who are engaging in the type of behavior that has slowed players’ level progression in The Division are people I want to have around while I’m gaming? Certainly not. However, the fact is these people exist and play the same games I do whether I like it or not. With that being the case, The Division‘s current outlet for player griefing seems a lot healthier than it does at first glance. While shooters that are based mostly online have long had a reputation for exclusionary behavior towards people of different backgrounds, The Division has made the most toxic channels for griefing less integrated in its gameplay. The end result is a group of players united against the mostly harmless evil of griefers standing in doorways and an online FPS/MMO hybrid that has taken steps toward combining the best elements of shooters and MMOs alike without continuing the worst of their traditions.

Is it perfectly reasonable to complain about the player collision issues currently in The Division? Absolutely. Will Ubisoft eventually patch this behavior out of the game? I’d certainly bet on it. Before it goes, however, Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment should consider the fact they might have inadvertently created one of the most inclusive, harmless methods of griefing in a hybrid MMO game to date – and if both parties agree to remove it, something more sinister and less goofy might turn up in its place.

 

[Source:- Gamerant]

7 Strategies for Optimizing Your WordPress Website

 

For budding entrepreneurs, WordPress is considered an excellent platform to create websites for their startup or small business. This content management service (CMS) is used by millions of business owners around the world – more than 400 million websites worldwide are powered by WordPress, including more than 100 million in the United States. WordPress sites publish posts every 17 seconds. Most of the top one million websites in the world are powered by WordPress and related to business. These facts clearly show the significance of WordPress as a content management service for businesses of all sizes.

Simplicity, social media integration and the large number of theme options available are key reasons why startups and small businesses prefer WordPress. However, you need to keep several important facts in mind before you think about using WordPress for your business website.

1. THE QUALITY OF THEMES

Thousands of free and premium themes are available for those planning to create a WordPress-based website for their startup. However, you need to be careful in selecting a reliable theme from those available. The theme should be flexible and you need to have the ability to make modifications without much hassle.

2. HOSTING

This is another crucial factor when it comes to creating a website for your startup. You need to look for a managed WordPress hosting service that will help you keep your website up and running at all times. In addition, they should provide regular updates and backups.

3. CHOOSE YOUR PLUGINS WISELY

Installing too many plugins on your WordPress website will slow its performance. Only add the plugins that you will actively use and delete the rest.

4. CONFIGURING YOUR WEBSITE

After you finalize WordPress installation, you need to configure it accordingly. For example, you should think about how the comments are moderated, permalinks are set up, and other best practices. This is easily accomplished in WordPress settings and should be done during your initial setup.

5. MOBILE INTERFACE

Many website visitors will access your site through their mobile devices, so your WordPress-based website needs a responsive mobile interface that will provide a smooth experience for users. Users won’t tolerate much irritation from pinching and pulling.

Adam Farra, CEO of HostGator says, “It can be a bit of a chore to make certain that your site is mobile-friendly. But it’s worth the effort. Doing so will help to assure that your site ranks as highly as possible in search engine results”.

6. SECURITY

WordPress comes with decent security features, but consider implementing more advanced security measures using plugins and other best practices to deter potential threats. Ilia Kolochenko, CEO of High-Tech Bridge says, “I would say that a popular CMS, such as WordPress or Joomla may be considered secure in default installation if they are properly configured, don’t have third-party code and are up to date”.

7. SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION

Consider search engine optimization (SEO) to enhance the visibility of your website on Google and other search engines. Using SEO best practices along with WordPress plugins like WordPress SEO by Yoast you’ll be headed in the right direction. In addition to search engine optimization, it’s important to use the new SEO (Social Engine Optimization) as well. Establish an active presence on the social media networks where your customers spend the most time and you’ll quickly build a brand people trust.

[Source:- Socialmediatoday]

Google is hitting the road—literally—for user feedback

Google is hitting the road -- literally -- for user feedback

In this Wednesday, March 9, 2016 photo, Google User Experience Researcher John Webb, background, Dawn Herman, left, Henry Liang, center, and Victoria Sosik pose for a photo with Google’s User Experience van in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Google is about to embark on an old-school search, swapping its Internet algorithm for a custom-built van that will cruise across the U.S. to find out how people use its online services and react to new features.

The white van emblazoned with Google’s colorful logo and an invitation to “shape the future” of the world’s most powerful Internet company is scheduled to pull out Monday on a six-week road trip.

Google is using the van to help it break out of its Silicon Valley bubble. The van will make multiday stops in seven states, stopping near colleges, libraries, parks and some of Google’s own regional offices in hopes of finding out how average Americans are using the company’s multitude of digital offerings.

About 500 walk-up volunteers will be invited to step inside the van designed to serve as a mini-version of Google’s Silicon Valley laboratories, where most of the company’s user studies are conducted.

Once inside, researchers will watch, question and record how the volunteers use apps and other services on their smartphones in sessions that will last 15 to 90 minutes. They will receive gift cards and Google t-shirts in return for their time.

A few may even get a glimpse at ideas that Google’s engineers are still refining before the company decides whether to release them as products to the general public.

Google is hitting the road -- literally -- for user feedback
In this Wednesday, March 9, 2016 photo, Google User Experience Researcher John Webb, left, Research Program Manager Henry Liang, center, and User Experience Researcher Victoria Sosik run a pilot study inside Google’s User Experience van in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The plan to build a research lab on wheels grew out of Google’s recognition that most people don’t live and think the same way as the population living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the company does most of its user research.

In this geeky and affluent area, the day’s biggest worry sometimes boils down to how long it will take to summon an Uber ride to a fancy restaurant.

“We are trying to understand the whole end-to-end experience, which is why we are trying to get out to more locations and see more people so we can gather more context,” says Laura Granka, a lead Google researcher focusing on Internet search and maps.

Google is usually in the thick of the action on people’s computers and mobile devices, with seven different services boasting at least 1 billion users: Internet search, YouTube, maps, Chrome browser, Android software for mobile devices, Google Play and Gmail.

Traveling the country in search of more diverse opinions makes sense to San Diego State University marketing professor Steven Osinski, although he suspects the van’s road trip is more of a goodwill tour than a data-gathering expedition.

Google is hitting the road -- literally -- for user feedback
In this Wednesday, March 9, 2016 photo, Research Program Manager Henry Liang, uses an iPhone during pilot study inside Google’s User Experience van in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

“I don’t know how much more they are going to learn that they are not aware of right now,” Osinski says. “With just one van, whatever data they get is likely to be very anecdotal. It will be a good public-relations story, but it doesn’t really strike me as a real game changer in terms of research.”

Granka, however, says Google’s marketing department didn’t have any involvement with the upcoming tour.

“It is purely driven by research and our desire to reach and understand more of our users,” she said.

The journey marks another step in Google’s evolution from a freewheeling company that routinely introduced services with a “beta” tag to signify they hadn’t been thoroughly tested.

Releasing products in test form hatched some hits, including Google News and Gmail, but it also produced some embarrassing duds. The list of flops includes a confusing document-sharing tool called Wave, a short-lived virtual world called Lively and a privacy-invading social network called Buzz.

Now, Google is taking a more deliberate approach that relies on more extensive research before its products hit the market.

In another sign of its transformation, Google last year folded itself into Alphabet Inc., a holding company that oversees many of the experimental projects, or “moonshots,” that formerly came out of Google.

After leaving New York, the van will be stopping in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, from Monday through March 18; Clemson, South Carolina, March 21-22; Atlanta, March 23-25; Boulder, Colorado, April 4-8; Salt Lake City, April 11-15; Reno, Nevada, April 18-20; and South Lake Tahoe, California, April 21-22.

If the trip yields helpful insights, Google plans to send the van on several shorter junkets to cities across the country later this year and may eventually hit the road in other countries.

[Source:- Phys.org]

Cyberpunk 2077 is ‘Better, Bigger, More Revolutionary’ Than Witcher 3

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In a financial call, CD Projekt RED reveals that upcoming RPGCyberpunk 2077 is a ‘huge game’ with a magnitude ‘much greater’ than The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Taking place in a dystopian setting where advancements in technology have become “both the salvation and the curse of humanity”, Cyberpunk 2077 sounds gloriously grim and futuristic. Despite only having been seen in a teaser trailer released several years ago, RPG fans have put the CD Projekt RED game high up on their wish lists. With the developer’s work on The Witcher 3: Wild Huntwrapping up and the team now “hard at work” on Cyberpunk 2077, fans are eager for info about the upcoming game, and in a recent financial call the dev offered just that.

Speaking during CD Projekt RED’s 2015 financial results conference, the studio’s president Adam Kiciński and studio head Adam Badowski both revealed more on the game. Badowski said that after the massive success of The Witcher 3 (it won Game of the Year at The Game Awards 2015, for example), Cyperpunk 2077 has to be “even better, even bigger, even more revolutionary” and the developer wants it to be a “truly outstanding game”. Moreover, it was revealed that Cyberpunk 2077 is a “huge game” and that its magnitude will be “much greater” than The Witcher. CD Projekt RED has “amazingly large ambitions” for it.

Cyberpunk 2077 Wallpaper Art

This isn’t the first time the developer has spoken of its high expectations for Cyberpunk 2077, nor is it the first time that the dev has promised that it will be larger than The Witcher 3. Towards the end of 2015, the developer revealed that Cyberpunk 2077 would be bigger than anything it had ever created, “far, far bigger” in fact. CD Projekt RED has also said that it has considered multiplayer gameplay for Cyberpunk 2077, but there’s no word on whether that will be classic team deathmatch or just co-op.

During the call, the CD Projekt RED bosses also revealed their plans to double the amount of developers at the studio. There are currently 400 developers who are working on two major games (Cyberpunk 2077 and an unannounced RPG) and some other projects the developer cannot currently talk about, and it wants to up that number to 800 and split the devs into four teams.

That increased studio size doesn’t necessarily mean that fans will get Cyberpunk 2077 any faster, though, as during the call, the developer also said that it is still “a long ways away from the premiere.” While that statement is disappointing, it also obliterates a previous rumor that suggested that Cyberpunk 2077 would be released this year. However, given just how much CD Projekt RED has planned for this, many fans will accept a longer wait time if it means that the developer can deliver something incredible.

 

[Source:- Gamerant]