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Breakaway’s Black Knight is a fearsome foe—all 400 pounds of him. Clad in spiky black armor, standing seven feet tall, and with a man-sized axe in his massive gauntlets, he’s basically a murderous brick wall standing between me and freedom.
…For the basket? It’s true. I sprint up the stairs of fabled El Dorado, leap into the air like some ancient-world Michael Jordan, and slam a golden ball down into the pit on the ground. 1-0, our team.Emphasis on sports
It’s an interesting phenomenon that the best “Sports” video games are at best an abstract representation of real-world sports.
Oh sure, developers have made astonishing simulations of real sports, with the world’s best football and hockey and soccer stars meticulously recreated not just in appearance, but with tables upon tables of stats to delve into. But even the best of these simulations feels somewhat clunky, one or two steps removed from “Sports” in their purest form. So while EA’s FIFA games might be the most accurate-looking soccer game on the market, it’s Rocket League that more faithfully mimics the feel of playing soccer.
I think Breakaway, Amazon’s debut game, is going to fall into a similar category. In terms of rules, in terms of its character roster and setting, Breakaway is like no sport you’ve ever played—and yet it feels like football or like basketball in certain vital ways that the official adaptations (Madden, NBA 2K) don’t quite capture.
Blending elements of both Dota 2-style MOBAs and third-person action/shooter games, Breakaway actually sits pretty close in taxonomy to the criminally-overlooked Super Monday Night Combat. Teams are made up of heroes drawn from history and from legend, four to a side. Roles are fairly standard: You’ve got your tanks, like the Black Knight. There are damage dealers, like Spartacus (who can kick enemies off the edge of the map) or the ranged sniper pirate Anne Bonny. And then supports, like King Arthur’s nemesis, the sorceress Morgan Le Fay.
Easy enough, except there are so many other things going on. Combat proceeds apace while you’re stuck carrying the ball, and a single hit causes you to drop the Relic. Complicating matters is the fact that players can reinforce their lines with fortifications, from simple walls to ballistae to a Tesla coil that zaps you if you try to jump past.
And while getting the Relic to the goal is the most reliable way to score, the round also comes to an end prematurely if one team manages to completely eliminate the other before anyone respawns. This makes minute-to-minute play a delicate balance between pushing towards the enemy goal and not getting so overextended that your entire team is knocked out at once—or maybe just playing a strong defense and gunning for the enemy squad, hard as that can be.
Some aspects could use fine-tuning. The interface is a bit convoluted for my tastes, with an ugly free-to-play game vibe to the layout—especially when upgrading your character’s stats, which is done between rounds (or during, if you’re quick enough) on an cumbersome and awkward grid. The game could also use an Overwatch-style “Press F1 to see your abilities” overlay.
And the health bar is in a weird spot, too small and too far out of your peripheral vision to keep an eye on it in the heat of combat. I died quite a few times because I simply didn’t realize I was in any danger.
Breakaway’s only in Alpha though. There’s plenty of time to address these issues, provided Amazon listens to the community and takes its feedback seriously. The team certainly won’t have long to wait, with the game entering a brief semi-open Alpha phase today, December 15 at 6 p.m. (and lasting until December 19). We’ll see what the world thinks of Breakaway soon enough.
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First impressions of Firefox 1.0 preview release
Firefox is my second choice for a web browser. Opera comes first. No doubts about that. But Firefox in itself is a pretty decent browser. My requirement from a browser has risen with my long time usage of Opera so I just cannot move on to Firefox. Especially when it is not even in a final version. Till now at least.
Firefox today got a preview release for the version 1. Not officially released yet but still it was an offer I was too reluctant to pass by. Downloaded and installed over my previous installations. First impression after installing? I made a big mistake. More than half of my extensions were disabled as they were not supported. Even my favorite theme was disabled… I was back to a boring looking featureless browser. Damn. Rolling back sounded like a worse option, so continued with the preview release.
3 things impressed me in this release. Though, still not entirely good enough for me to think about using it as a primary browser. Let me discuss in details.
Speed is good but features?
The browser is indeed very fast. Not in loading which surprisingly is slower than Opera on my machine. The rendering speed is blazingly fast… faster than opera perhaps but I am not going to use stopwatches. But well, apparently I do not like the idea of a bare-naked browser with extensions providing the required clothing. Moreover, with every version seemingly breaking existing extensions and skins (might change in the final release and later versions), I certainly think twice before upgrading. And when I do (as I did today), most of the time I have to start from scratch.
Firefox is supposed to be just a browser. So, how come it now supports RSS feeds! I am not complaining for the additional feature though… my problem is that the support is uninspiring. I love the RSS detector that shows a lovely icon in the status bar. However, it functions only when the site has a Meta tag pointing to the feed. Something like this:
Ok, forgive my innocence but I failed to notice the new Ctrl-F menu. And I cannot seem to make the famous Find as you Type functionality work anymore. Maybe, they disabled it with the popularity of GMail and shortcuts taking over the web that I believe conflicted with Firefox find as you type. Apparently, I do like the ctrl-f toolbar even though it does not seems to auto close by itself. Keyboard shortcuts can be complicated for new guys and this toolbar let me highlight a particular word. Not as good as a dedicated toolbar as it does not do multiple word highlighting and does not do search engine searches.
New Toolbar for Popup Blocking
It is of course a very important upgrade. But someone like me who wants features and stability out of the box would keep on using it as a second choice browser for sites that fails to work in opera. I just hope they improve on the RSS integration because it is not much fun unless it is implemented properly.
In the above syntax, we used square brackets syntax to access the first element of the collection and then used the name property to get its name.Steps
Step 2 − In the next step, we will use the above syntax to get the name of the first form in the document.
Let us understand it practically with the help of a code example −Example 1
“The name of first form in the document: “
In the example above, we have used two forms named as formOne and formTwo in the document. We access a list of all forms present in the document inside form, that will be of type HTMLCollection.After that, we access the first element of the list using square brackets syntax to get the first form in the document and use the name property to get the name of the form inside firstForm.
Let us see what value the forms property will return if we have two nested forms in the document.Approach
Step 1 − In this step, we will define the two forms one inside another such that nested forms and give them particular names.
Step 2 − In second step, we use the forms property to get the list of forms present in the document as we did in previous example.
Below example will show how the forms property will react in case of nested forms −
“The name of first form in the document: “
In this example, we have seen that forms property consider the nested forms as single form and returns the name of the first form in the document whether it contain nested forms or not.
What are the benefits of automation? Well, it can help with consistency, lower operating costs, and, according to Productivity Inc., automation can improve worker safety. “Automated cells remove workers from dangerous tasks,” it said, adding that employees would thank their employers for “safeguarding them against the hazards of a factory environment.”
It’s a believable benefit, and it obviously has some truth to it. But, this week, Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, found that Amazon employees working at Amazon’s automated factories have higher injury rates than those without robots; the opposite of what the company claimed would be the case.
Reveal obtained internal documents as part of a wider investigation of Amazon’s workplace safety and rising injury rates across the country. According to the data, injury rates at Amazon’s robotic warehouses have increased year on year for the past four years. The report found that this is likely thanks to the ramping up of production quotas in automated factories.
At Amazon fulfillment centers used to ship small to medium-sized packages (the most common type of warehouse used by the company), the rate of serious injuries from 2023 to 2023 was more than 50% higher at warehouses with robots than ones without, according to the report.
Reveal heard from a number of Amazon warehouse employees whose accounts matched their findings:
The robots were too efficient. They could bring items so quickly that the productivity expectations for workers more than doubled, according to a former senior operations manager who saw the transformation. And they kept climbing. At the most common kind of warehouse, workers called pickers – who previously had to grab and scan about 100 items an hour – were expected to hit rates of up to 400 an hour at robotic fulfillment centers.
Along with the increase in speed needed to meet the demands of both the company and the robots, repetitive strain injury (RSI) became common among workers, who had gone from walking around a warehouse to standing in one place for 10 hours a day, doing the same task over and over. But this isn’t new.
In 2023, OSHA called out Amazon for exposing employees to “ergonomic risk factors including stress from repeated bending at the waist and repeated exertions, and standing during entire shifts up to 10 hours, four days a week and sometimes including mandatory overtime shifts.” They recommended extra rest breaks and rotating tasks, but Amazon is yet to implement anything of the sort.
A former Amazon safety manager told Reveal that the company became aware of the problems posed by increased automation “within a year or two of introducing the robots,” but were unsure of how to fix things without slowing down. “We realized early on there was an issue” the ex-employee told Reveal. “It was just – you’re already moving that way at light speed, so how do you take a step back and readjust?”
And, in 2023, Amazon safety officials set out to find out why 36% of workers at their DuPont warehouse gave an “unfavorable” response to the question, “Does the safety training match the real-world expectations of your job?” The overwhelming response was that the work “requires me to move too quickly, so I am forced to either cut corners or not make rate.”
The main implications of Reveal’s report are that Amazon is attempting to conceal its growing injury rates from the rest of the world so they don’t have to slow down production (or profits).
Yesterday, Amazon sent a statement to The Verge saying that Reveal’s report was misleading: “The very internal documents [Reveal] claims to have obtained ultimately illustrate one thing—we have a deep focus on the safety of our teams.”
Amazon claims that, because it reports more injuries than other companies in the industry it looks like it has a higher rate of injury. The company said:
Reveal is misinformed regarding an OSHA safety metric that measures days away and restricted or transferred work (known as a DART rate) as something the reporter mistakenly calls a serious incident rate. The reality is that there is no such OSHA or industry “serious incident rate,” and our DART rate is actually supportive of employees as it encourages someone with any type of injury, for example, a small strain or sprain, to stay away from work until they’re better.
However, Reveal says it used the term “Serious Injury Rate” (not “incident”) as a replacement for DART, in order to simplify things for its readers.
Despite investing millions of dollars into protecting the safety of its employees over the years, Amazon has only seen an increase in injury rates every year since 2023.
Play the game of Spades on Windows 10, 8 with this app
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And with Spades we complete our roundup of the classic Windows games that made it to Windows 8 and Windows 10. Although the game is not developed by Microsoft, it still has all the features that players know and love.
The game is free to download from the Windows Store and fans of the game can enjoy it in a much nicer manner that what they were used to. Let’s take a look at the game and see how it fairs.What do we think of Spades for Windows 10
The game is pretty basic, offering only the not more than what it used to. The main menu is very pleasing to the eye, with nice, but also simple graphics. From here, players can start a new game, resume a game that was opened previously, see the statistics, change the options or learn how to play via the Help menu.
Also, from the Charms bar players can turn the sound on or off, or let their friends know what they’re playing via the Share charm. In the Options menu from the game, players can set the difficulty and game type.
Once they start playing, they will notice that not much has changed, and the game is pretty much how they remember it. Apart from updated graphics, there is basically no change. There are no options for customizing the deck of cards or the background, but we hope that future updates will introduce this option. Also, there is no multiplayer gaming mode, a feature that would be very awesome and we hope to see it soon.
Overall, the game is very amusing (for those who like it), it has nice graphics, but its biggest drawback is the lack of features on the customizing side. Also the lack of multiplayer makes it a bit boring after a while, but fans of the previous game will like it just the same!
Download Spades for Windows 10, Windows 8
Here’s a quick list of Spade’s key features:
Easy and Hard difficulty modes
Classic and Suicide gameplay modes
Detailed statistics to track your progress
Rename your opponents
The UI is available in multiple languages
Gamers who played Spades absolutely fell in love with the app:
I have tried many spades games in the store, most of them boast that they are superb but they fail miserably. This spades game is both competitive and fair. The developers did a fantastic job at making the AI know what to bid while sometimes making underbids so they can cause the player to overbid their hand. If this game could be rated 6 stars, I would do it!!!
So, what are you waiting for? Go to Microsoft Store and download the game.
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The Art of the Game of War
There’s a sequence in the game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” that you don’t have to play if you don’t want to. I haven’t finished the entire game yet. My Xbox broke while I was working through it, and I haven’t had time to get it repaired. But I did get to this sequence, or level, and I was anticipating it. The game doesn’t offer a specific warning about its content, but you do get a warning before you start playing the game from the beginning that something is coming you might want to skip, especially if you’re a sensitive viewer.[Image credit: mandiberg]
In the first person shooter sequence, your character is an intelligence agent who has infiltrated a terrorist group. In the scene in question, you take part in a terrorist attack. You and a bunch of characters controlled by the computer enter an airport in Russia and start shooting. For the first few minutes, there is no resistance. You are shooting unarmed civilians. People scream and run away. People run up the escalator the wrong way. People fall and die. There’s a lot of blood.
It is, without a doubt, the most disturbing moment I’ve ever encountered in a video game. What’s most interesting, though, is that the scene is completely integral to the plot. If your character didn’t participate in this mission, the events that occur next would never happen.
How do you play such a level? What’s the moral imperative in video games? In some ways, there is none. These aren’t real people, obviously. It’s all just computer generated imagery on a screen. I could kill a million people in a video game. Would it be mass murder? Genocide? No, because nothing really happened.
Would I feel like I’m committing murder? That’s another question, and that depends on the game itself.
The first time I played through the CoD: MW2 level, I tried to avoid killing anyone. It’s possible for the first half of the level, but eventually security arrives, and in order to progress, you have to defeat the armed guards. It felt treasonous, almost, because I knew that my character is an undercover agent, and so the guards are really on my side. But you can’t continue the game without killing the opposition, and so that’s what I did.
The second time I played through the level, I killed everyone I could. I shot women in the head. I walked up to people lying on the floor, begging for mercy, and I shot them in the chest until they stopped moving. I used guns, grenades and knives. I tried to kill more people than the computer-controlled characters next to me.
I tried to enjoy the killing, but I couldn’t. It was very disturbing. I tried to embrace it, but the quality of the graphics, the voice acting and even the story itself all created a world that was just real enough to give me pause. I felt bad about killing innocent civilians in an airport terror attack, even though there was no killing, no civilians and no airport. It was all on screen, and it was all in my head.
That’s art. That is exactly what art is supposed to do. I started thinking about this when Ars Technica’s gaming writer, Ben Kuchera, tweeted that Call of Duty is as much art as Ico, a somewhat more abstract and fantastic video game title. Video games are often disparaged in the art world. Roger Ebert famously landed in hot water recently by penning a story claiming that video games can never be art. He has since made a qualified retraction of his original statement, but nonetheless, it seems that video games still get beaten down and taken to task in a way that traditional, more widely accepted artwork does not.
First, let me define my terms. I believe “art” is any creation that exists purely (or primarily) to elicit an emotional response. Any creation; any emotional response. This is a broad definition (if you didn’t realize, ), and this leaves the category wide open so that a wide range of things can be considered “art.” That’s fine with me. I would much rather argue about whether something is good art, or, even better, whether it’s successful art, than argue about whether it is art at all.
I have no interest in arguing about whether or not video games are, in fact, pieces of art. Some of them are, some are not. I think that the game itself has to elicit a human emotion for the game to be considered art. I don’t mean the act of winning the game, I mean the game itself. So, in my view, Tetris is not a work of art. It’s a fantastic game, one of the best ever created and a personal favorite (I am a Tetris demigod), but the happiness I get from Tetris, or any emotional response, comes from my own skill and success in playing the game. A game like “Call of Duty,” or “Bioshock,” or even “Guitar Hero” elicits a deeper emotional response that comes from being able to relate to the game. If the first two are more obvious, I would say “Guitar Hero” elevates itself to the level of art first because you are literally playing music, and music has always been considered art, but second because the game tries to help us imagine ourselves as skilled, successful musicians. Load up any Guitar Hero video on YouTube and tell me the kid playing complicated, 5-star riffs doesn’t envision himself a skilled musician. I’m not saying he’s right, I’m just saying that’s art.
While I was thinking about this article, a new controversy came up. Electronics Arts will release a new “Medal of Honor” title, another war-based first person shooter, set in today’s conflict zones. Though the story mode will have the player acting as an allied forces soldier, someone on our side, in other words, there is also a multiplayer mode. As Ars Technica quotes EA Games reps as saying: “if someone’s the cop, someone’s gotta be the robber.” To that end, half the players in a multiplayer round will be trying to kill the guys on ‘our side.’ Those opponents could play as “Taliban” soldiers. This has parents groups up in arms in the UK.
Why is it that parents groups always seem to come down on the side of censorship? Why do so-called parents groups try to get the government to mandate what my children can watch, so that my own entertainment has to be reduced to the level of what’s acceptable for my child?
In any case, there are two major flaws to this argument. First, nobody is actually becoming the Taliban. Just because you pick up a joystick and look through the virtual eyes of a Taliban fighter, that doesn’t mean you have anything in common with our enemies in Afghanistan. In a way, these parents groups are not only proving my original thesis that video games are in fact artwork, they are in fact showing just how successful the artwork has become. If the representation wasn’t so powerful, and if the games did not produce a real emotional response, would parents care? Would parents care if their children played games where they could act like a family of small frogs trying to cross a busy highway and getting killed by passing trucks? Of course not, because that was not a successful piece of artwork. But the more powerful representation elicits a more powerful emotional response. Art doesn’t make everyone happy; it isn’t supposed to.
Second, this unfortunately shows video games’ place at the bottom of artistic hierarchy. At the Academy Awards this year, the Best Supporting Actor award went to an actor who played an especially vicious and frightening Nazi. Did any parent group step up and say that Christoph Waltz should not have been allowed to portray a Nazi? Should we blacklist any actor who appears as a Taliban fighter in a movie? Or a soldier in the Burmese army? A serial killer? Not only are these actors not condemned, but the more they frighten us, the more they draw forth a real response from their audience and turn their audience into ersatz victims of their crimes, the more we appreciate their performance.
You can’t have it both ways. You cannot claim that video games do not deserve the same protection and respect as other forms of art, then claim that the emotional response they trigger in their audience is too powerful and needs to be banned. You can’t celebrate an actor’s performance as a murderer or an enemy combatant, then turn around and denigrate the same types of characters in video games.
If you don’t like a video game, or a movie or an exhibit of oil paintings strewn with elephant dung, don’t go to see them. If you’ve played the game, argue about its successes and failures, how it made you feel and how you reacted to that feeling. We’re far past the point where there’s a question about whether video games are a form of art.
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