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26 Jan 09:04

Titans, Doom Patrol Ending After Current Seasons on HBO Max

by Alex Stedman

Greg Berlanti-produced DC series Titans and Doom Patrol will both end after their current seasons on HBO Max, it was announced today. The news broke across The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline Hollywood, and Variety, with a spokesperson for HBO Max confirming the news to IGN in a statement.

While these will be the final seasons of Titans and Doom Patrol, we are very proud of these series and excited for fans to see their climactic endings. We are grateful to Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television for making such thrilling, action-packed, heartfelt series. We thank Titans showrunner Greg Walker, executive producers Greg Berlanti, Akiva Goldsman, Sarah Schechter, Geoff Johns, Richard Hatem, and the team at Weed Road Pictures. For Doom Patrol, we celebrate showrunner Jeremy Carver and executive producers Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Geoff Johns, Chris Dingess and Tamara Becher-Wilkinson. For four seasons, fans have fallen in love with the Titans and Doom Patrol, investing in their trials and tribulations, and in their legendary battles saving the world time and time again.

Both are on their fourth seasons that have been divided into two parts, and both also came from the since-shuttered streaming service DC Universe.

The news comes as Warner Bros. Discovery continues to take drastic cost-cutting measures, including removing a wide array of shows from HBO Max and axing the Batgirl movie altogether. DC's film and television slate is also being re-examined at large under the new leadership of James Gunn and Peter Safran.

“I'm immensely proud of our gifted cast, crew, and writing staff and their efforts in bringing to life all forty nine episodes over the last five plus years," Titans executive producer Greg Walker said in a statement. "I couldn't have asked for better partners in Berlanti Productions, Warner Bros. Television, and HBO Max, and from the beginning, Geoff Johns and Akiva Goldsman. I'm incredibly grateful for their unyielding trust throughout this process. Lastly, I have to thank our incredible fans for their continued support, engagement, and the passionate community they've built around our show. We have six episodes left to unleash upon the world that we hope will give our beloved characters the creative closure we all know they deserve.”

“To our wonderfully supportive partners at HBO Max, Warner Bros. Television, Berlanti Productions, and DC Studios, thank you for indulging us these past four seasons," added Doom Patrol executive producer Jeremy Carver. "Also, what were you smoking? To our brilliant cast, indomitable crew, fearless writing staff and, most of all, to our beautiful fans: thank you all the more. You made this a once-in-a-lifetime ride.”

Alex Stedman is a News Editor with IGN, leading entertainment reporting. When she's not writing or editing, you can find her reading fantasy novels or playing Dungeons & Dragons.

18 Jan 08:35

The Last of Us: Pedro Pascal Is the 'Ultimate Dad' in Sweet Photo With Ellie and Sarah Actresses

by Logan Plant

Pedro Pascal is taking his role as "sad dad" Joel Miller in HBO's The Last of Us to heart, taking an adorable photo with his two fictional daughters, Nico Parker and Bella Ramsey.

On Instagram, Ellie actress Bella Ramsey posted a photo of her, Pascal, and Sarah actress Nico Parker hanging out. Pascal commented saying, "My two little big bosses ❤️❤️", with Parker adding, "It’s confirmed that Pedro is now the ultimate dad".

Then, Twitter user @djarinwidow took the photo a step further, by reposting it and adding the caption, “I think the two of you would’ve been good friends. Think you really woulda liked her. I know she woulda liked you.” This is referencing The Last of Us games, when Joel tells Ellie he thinks she and Sarah would have gotten along well if they were able to meet each other.

While the two characters may not get the opportunity to meet, it seems like the two actors playing them are having a blast... And managing to tug at our heartstrings yet again.

The Last of Us on HBO premiered on Sunday, drawing in 4.7 million viewers. In our review of the series premiere, we said, "Episode 1 of HBO’s The Last of Us thrillingly lays the foundations for the emotional torture ready to hurt us along every step of its journey."

For more Last of Us content while you wait for Episode 2 on Sunday, check out how the Last of Us TV series made its opening even more heartbreaking, or our comparison of The Last of Us TV show and video game.

Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over six years of experience in the gaming industry with bylines at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.

06 Jan 13:52

Rian Johnson's Peacock Whodunit Poker Face Gets First Madcap Trailer

Peacock has released the first official trailer for Poker Face, writer-director Rian Johnson's (Knives Out) next big bet on the mystery genre. The 10-epiosde mystery-of-the-week series begins streaming with a four-episode premiere on January 26.

Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll, Orange Is the New Black) stars as Charlie Cale, who, according to a synopsis "has an extraordinary ability to determine when someone is lying. She hits the road with her Plymouth Barracuda and with every stop encounters a new cast of characters and strange crimes she can’t help but solve." Lyonne will be joined by an impressive group of guest stars that include Adrien Brody, Chloë Sevigny, Ellen Barkin, Hong Chau, Jasmine Aiyana Garvin, Jameela Jamil, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Judith Light, Nick Nolte, Rhea Perlman, Ron Perlman, S. Epatha Merkerson, Stephanie Hsu, Tim Blake Nelson, and Tim Meadows. Many others are featured in the new trailer below.

As if Poker Face's stellar cast isn't reason enough to give the series a shot, Johnson is also riding high as the Knives Out sequel Glass Onion has quickly become one of Netflix's biggest ever releases. It was recently reported that the whodunit, which was released on December 23, has secured the top spot on the streamer's English-language film charts for the week of December 26 to January 1. Or, to put it another way, the film quickly became Netflix's third most watched film in hours viewed in its first 10 days--racking up 127.25 million hours watched in barely over a week.

Continue Reading at GameSpot
06 Jan 13:52

First History of the World Part 2 Photos Reveal the Mel Brooks Sequel 42 Years in the Making

by Adele Ankers-Range

Hulu has released a first look at History of the World: Part II, its upcoming sequel to Mel Brooks' 1981 feature film which takes a comedic look at historical events.

Entertainment Weekly shared new images of the eight-part comedy series, which is set to premiere on Hulu this spring. The snapshots depict Nick Kroll, Wanda Sykes, and Ike Barinholtz in various scenarios taken from different sketches that will be featured on the show.

The group pose as sports commentators in one photo, while others offer a glimpse at some of the characters they'll be playing. Amongst them is Barinholtz as Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, Kroll as cart-wheeler Schmuck Mudman, and Sykes as US congresswoman Shirley Chisholm.

The upcoming series will follow the original movie's anthology structure with each episode spotlighting multiple historical stories. The sketches are expected to include everything from the building of the pyramids to the American Civil War, the Russian Revolution, and much, much more.

History of the World: Part I was released over 40 years ago on June 12, 1981. Unfortunately for History of the World, that was the same day Raiders of the Lost Ark opened in theaters and a week before Superman II, which, combined with poor word of mouth, impacted its box office.

Brooks, who wrote and directed the original movie, is returning for more historical hijinks with the sequel. He is serving as the writer and executive producer of the Hulu series along with Kroll, Sykes, Barinholtz, David Stassen, Kevin Salter, David Greenbaum, and Christie Smith.

Adele Ankers-Range is a freelance entertainment writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.

Cover image credit: Hulu via Entertainment Weekly.

06 Jan 13:41

Health tech goes down the toilet with Withings' new at-home urine monitor

by Chris Smith
Withings U Scan

Withings has announced a new frontier for the health-focused smart home – a connected urine monitor that sits in the toilet bowl.

The Withings U-Scan is described as the first hands-free connected home urine lab, which will negate the need to catch pee in a small receptacle, or on a strip, and offers instant results via the Health Mate app.

Rather than having urine analysed by a doctor (and heaven knows its hard getting an appointment these days), the U-Scan device can offer quick feedback on a number of biomarkers present in the pee. Indeed, there are more than 3,000 metabolites, within our urine, all giving off critical health indicators.

Withings says the device, which is just 90mm in diameter can provide an “immediate snapshot of the body’s balance” with actionable insight.

Most of us only have a urine analysis during a physical or if you go to the docs with a suspected illness, but the company hopes this will make urine analysis more routine. The results shows vitamin C levels, luteinizing hormone levels, keytones, water balance, nitrates, acid-base balance and other markers. If you’re under-hydrated for example, it’ll tell you, and you can correct things.

The system is powered by replaceable cartridges that last three months and can be easily switched out, according to the manufacturer, which is more famous for smart scales and health-focused watches. Analysis is synced via Wi-Fi and U-Scan knows the difference between water from flushes and urine, so won’t be sending you readings with the Ph of your toilet water.

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The product will launch in Europe later this year for a few cents short of €500. The UK price has yet to be announced. There’ll be different cartridges for Cycle Scan (designed for women) and Nutri Balance (overall use), with more cartridges to follow in the future.

“The ability of U-Scan to perform daily urine analysis from the home will allow Withings to take its mission to help consumers fully utilize urine data to an entirely new level,” said Mathieu Letombe, Withings CEO.

“It’s one of the most exciting and complex products we have ever announced. We begin this journey with U-Scan Cycle Sync and Nutri Balance and look forward to announcing more cartridges on an ongoing basis as well as medical applications of the technology.” 

The post Health tech goes down the toilet with Withings' new at-home urine monitor appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

05 Jan 09:09

Introducing Project Leonardo for PlayStation 5, a highly customizable accessibility controller kit

by Hideaki Nishino

Accessibility is an important topic to us at PlayStation, and we want to continue raising the bar to enable every gamer to experience the joy of play. Whether it’s the robust accessibility options in PlayStation Studios games like Santa Monica Studio’s God of War Ragnarök or Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part I, or the wide array of features in our PS4 and PS5 console UI, we’re passionate about reducing barriers to play for every gamer.

Today at CES, we announced the next step in our journey to make gaming more accessible: Project Leonardo for PlayStation 5. Developed with key contributions from accessibility experts, community members, and game developers, Project Leonardo is our codename for a new highly customizable controller kit that works “out of the box” to help many players with disabilities play games more easily, more comfortably, and for longer periods.

DualSense wireless controller alongside two Project Leonardo controllers, demonstrating option to pair a DualSense controller with up to two Project Leonardo controllers.

Through conversations with accessibility experts and incredible organizations like AbleGamers, SpecialEffect and Stack Up, we’ve designed a highly configurable controller that works in tandem with many third-party accessibility accessories and integrates with the PS5 console to open up new ways of gaming. It is built to address common challenges faced by many players with limited motor control, including difficulty holding a controller for long periods, accurately pressing small clusters of buttons or triggers, or positioning thumbs and fingers optimally on a standard controller.

Play Video Introducing Project Leonardo for PlayStation 5, a highly customizable accessibility controller kit

Here are some of the key features:

Highly customizable play experience

Hardware customizations. Project Leonardo for PS5 is a canvas for gamers to craft their own play experience. It includes a robust kit of swappable components, including a variety of analog stick caps and buttons in different shapes and sizes.

Players can use these components to craft a wide array of control layouts. And the distance of the analog stick from the game pad can be adjusted to suit the player’s preference. These components allow players to find a configuration that works for their strength, range of motion, and particular physical needs. 

Top-down image of Project Leonardo controller components, including swappable buttons and analog stick caps.

Software customizations. On the PS5 console players have an array of options to tailor their Project Leonardo play experience:

  • Button mapping
    • The controller’s buttons can be programmed to any supported function and multiple buttons can be mapped to the same function. Conversely, players can map two functions (like “R2” + “L2”) onto the same button.
  • Control profiles
    • Players can store their programmed button settings as control profiles and easily switch between them by pressing the profile button.
    • Up to three control profiles can be stored and accessed by the player from their PS5 console at any time.

Works collaboratively with other devices and accessibility accessories

Project Leonardo can be used as a standalone controller or paired with additional Project Leonardo or DualSense wireless controllers. Up to two Project Leonardo controllers and one DualSense wireless controller can be used together as a single virtual controller, allowing players to mix and match devices to fit their particular gameplay needs, or to play collaboratively with others.

Four images showcasing possible Project Leonardo pairings: top-left image features Project Leonardo controller by itself. Top-right image features one Project Leonardo controller and a DualSense wirless controller. Lower-left image features a two Project Leonardo controllers. Lower-right image features a DualSense wireless controller and two Project Leonardo controllers.

For example, players can augment their DualSense controller with a Project Leonardo controller or use two Project Leonardo controllers on their own. A friend or family member can also assist by helping to control the player’s game character with a DualSense controller or a second Project Leonardo controller. The controllers can be dynamically turned on or off and used in any combination.

Project Leonardo is expandable through four 3.5mm AUX ports to support a variety of external switches and third-party accessibility accessories. This enables users to integrate specialty switches, buttons or analog sticks with the Project Leonardo controller. The external accessories can be dynamically connected or disconnected, and each can be configured to act like any other button.

Side-view image of Project Leonardo, highlighting 3.5mm AUX ports.

Flexible, adaptable design

Project Leonardo’s split, symmetric design allows players to reposition the analog sticks as close together or as far apart as they like. The controller lies flat and does not need to be held, so players can lay it on a tabletop or a wheelchair tray. It can be easily secured to AMPS mounts* or tripods, and can be oriented 360 degrees for the most comfortable use. Players can also program the “north” orientation on the analog sticks to match their preferred controller orientation.

Sony Interactive Entertainment designer So Morimoto shares some insights on how his team approached the industrial design of Project Leonardo:


“Project Leonardo is part of the PS5 product family and is based on the same design concept. We were inspired by the idea of all players enjoying the world of PlayStation together. Our team tested over a dozen designs with accessibility experts, looking for approaches that would help address key challenges to effective controller use. We finally settled on a ‘split controller’ design that allows near free-form left/right thumbstick repositionability, can be used without needing to be held, and features very flexible button and stick cap swapping. 

“Because players can customize Project Leonardo according to their needs, there is no one ‘right’ form factor. We want to empower them to create their own configurations. The controller can also flexibly accept combinations of accessibility accessories to create a unique aesthetic. I am excited that the design will be completed through collaboration with players rather than presenting them with a single form factor.”

So Morimoto, Designer, Sony Interactive Entertainment

Looking ahead

Project Leonardo is currently in development and we continue to gather valuable feedback from the community. We’d like to thank all the wonderful organizations and accessibility experts who are supporting us in this effort.

We are also grateful to everyone in the community who has advocated for greater gaming accessibility. You are the reason we do our work and your passion inspires us every day. It’s truly a privilege for us to create products that better serve your needs. We look forward to sharing more in the future, including additional product features and launch timing.

*AMPS is an industry-standard mounting screw pattern for attaching devices to equipment, including accessibility equipment.

05 Jan 09:07

NVIDIA RTX 4070 Ti review: 3090 Ti power for $799

by Devindra Hardawar

NVIDIA's new RTX 40-series GPUs are insanely powerful, but also wildly expensive. That's my big takeaway after reviewing the RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 — sure, they're fast, but who can justify spending over $1,000 on a video card? With the RTX 4070 Ti, which debuted at CES 2023, NVIDIA is offering a slightly more reasonable alternative. Starting at $799, it's still fairly pricey, but at least it's under $1,000. And best of all, it's in many ways better than last year's 3090 Ti, which initially cost a whopping $2,000.

After announcing two RTX 4080 cards a few months ago, NVIDIA surprised us all when it "unlaunched" the $899 12GB model. Given its much lower specs, there were plenty of complaints that it seemed a bit too expensive to be called a 4080. So now we've got the 4070 Ti at $100 less, with the same 7,680 CUDA cores and 12GB of GDDR6X memory that the 4080 was supposed to get. Sometimes, yelling at companies online gets results.

If you've got a small case, the 4070 Ti may also be the first RTX 40-series GPU you can actually use. Both the 4080 and 4090 Ti were triple-slot behemoths — they took up a significant chunk of my fairly roomy mid-tower case – whereas the 4070 Ti just needs two. It also requires far less energy than either of those cards, since it can run with a 700-watt PSU and has a maximum power draw of 285W. (The 4080 requires a 750W PSU, while the demands an 850W unit.) NVIDIA says the 4070 Ti uses around 49 percent less power on average than the 3090 Ti.

Given where it sits alongside the RTX 4080, the 4070 Ti performed exactly as I expected. It clocked in around 20 percent slower in 3DMark's TimeSpy Extreme Benchmark, as well as the Geekbench 4 Compute test. It was also a full 30 fps slower while playing Halo Infinite in 4K with maxed out graphics settings. Now those numbers may sound disappointing, but I was ecstatic to see them. Sure, it's slower, but the 4070 Ti is actually keeping up fairly well with a card that's $400 more expensive (and in many cases, far more). That's something to celebrate!

None

3DMark TimeSpy Extreme

Port Royal (Ray Tracing)

Cyberpunk

Blender

NVIDIA RTX 4070 Ti

10,624

14,163/66fps

4K RT DLSS : 78fps

7,247

AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX

12,969

14,696/68fps

4K FSR RT: 57fps

2,899

AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT

11,688

13,247/61fps

4K FSRT RT: 50fps

3,516

NVIDIA RTX 4080

12,879

17,780/82fps

4K DLSS RT: 84fps

9,310

NVIDIA RTX 4090

16,464

25,405/117.62 fps

4K DLSS RT: 135fps

12,335

NVIDIA's DLSS 3 upscaling technology also proved to be incredibly useful once again. I reached a smooth 78fps in Cyberpunk2077 while playing in 4K with graphics ray tracing settings set to high. And if you need even more frames, you can always bump down to 1440p with DLSS 3, where I managed to reach 90 fps. The 4070 Ti also blew away the Radeon RX 7900 XT and XTX in Blender's benchmark, though that may have been due to unoptimized drivers on AMD's part. 

NVIDIA RTX 4070 Ti

If you've got a 1,440p monitor running at 120Hz or more, the 4070 Ti is clearly the more sensible purchase in NVIDIA's new family. Halo Infinite hit 165 fps while maxed out in that resolution, and I saw 130 fps in Control was graphics and ray tracing settings cranked up. And, it's worth noting, I didn't encounter any of the odd driver instability that crashed my system multiple times with the Radeon RX 7900 cards. The 4070 Ti was also twice as fast as both of those AMD GPUs in Control while using DLSS 3 and ray tracing in 1440p and 4K.

The ASUS TUF 4070 Ti I reviewed retails for $849, but I ran it at the same stock speeds as other $799 cards. The GPU reached 76C after hours of benchmarking and gaming — that's not as low as the 70C and below temperatures I was seeing on the 4080 and 4090, but those cards also had far more elaborate cooling.

As impressed as I am by the 4070 Ti, every prospective GPU buyer should know that NVIDIA's 30-series GPUs are still great! And while they don't have DLSS 3, they still have excellent DLSS 2 upscaling. Best of all, they're falling in price now that another generation of cards have arrived. You can snag 3060s easily for less than $400, while I've seen 3070s falling below $600 regularly. I'm sure we'll see a 4060 card later this year, but if you're in a rush, don't look down on older hardware.

NVIDIA RTX 4070 Ti
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

If anything, the RTX 4070 Ti is awful news for AMD. The Radeon RX 4700 XT and XTX are both faster GPUs in many benchmarks, but once you start enabling ray tracing, they practically crumble. And worst of all, they're $100 and $200 more, respectively. Personally, I'd rather the power of DLSS and the stability of NVIDIA's hardware and software, over the raw speed of those AMD cards.

While I miss the days of “reasonable” video card prices under $500, the 4070 Ti still feels like a dose of sanity. Unless you’re a high-level streamer or pro gamer, there’s little reason to spend four figures on a video card. $799, though? That’s doable. And if anything, it pushes the prices of other hardware down considerably. Even if you don’t buy the 4070 Ti, we should all be thankful it exists.

05 Jan 09:04

Sennheiser's Conversation Clear Plus are hearing aids in disguise

by James Trew

It’s taken longer than we’d hope, but since October, the FDA finally established a framework for new category of hearing aids that don’t need a medical exam, prescription or a fitting by an audiologist. Unsurprisingly we’re seeing the first OTC products being announced at CES. Sennheiser, a mainstay of the consumer audio world, is tossing its proverbial hat into the ring with the Conversation Clear Plus.

As the name suggests, the focus appears to be on dialogue (rather than the holistic hearing experience). Sennheiser says the earbuds will make it easier to understand conversations in noisy environments. This, the company claims, is achieved in a number of ways. At the heart of the device is a Sonova chip. Sonova is behind some of the legacy names in hearing aids such as Phonak and Unitron and it also bought Sennheiser's consumer audio business about 18 months ago.

The Conversation Clear Plus looks a lot like a pair of regular true wireless headphones which will go a long way to removing any stigma or association with conventional hearing aids. Unsurprisingly, they do share a lot of features with regular headphones too. That includes active noise cancellation, even if the application here is more focused on reducing background noise in relation to dialogue.

Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus hearing aids.
Sennheiser

Like most wireless headphones you’ll have the option to adjust the amount of noise reduction and there’s a companion app for further tuning your hearing experience. Sennheiser says there are three main prestets: Relax, Communication and Streaming. Those are all fairly self explanatory, but the last one marks a key difference between this category and legacy hearing aids — the ability to stream music and audio from your phone. Some hearing aids can do this, but it’s often a sub-optimal experience given that it’s not what they were primarily designed for. Given Sennheiser’s credentials in the headphone world, it seems likely streaming will be comparable to its consumer headphones.

On a more practical note, the Conversation Clear Plus offers a nine hour battery life per charge, with an additional 27 hours/three charges available via the case.

One of the big promises with OTC hearing aids was a significant reduction in cost. Typically a set with a fitting from an audiologist would cost several thousand dollars, the Conversation Clear Plus will retail for $850. The experiences between the two different product categories will obviously be somewhat distinct, given the different form factor, but the modern, gadgety design will appeal to a lot of folks that might otherwise be turned off by the clinical design of classic hearing aids.

The Conversation Clear Plus will be available for pre-order starting Jan 5 and will go on general sale Jan 20.

04 Jan 09:40

Finally, a fruit scanner that will tell you if your avocados are ripe

by Andrew Tarantola

We've all been there. It's late, you're tired from a long day's labor and all you want to do is go home to relax with your loved ones. But you're not at home, are you? No, you're at the supermarket with a hankering for homemade guac and that pile of fresh, treacherous avocados is staring you in the face, mocking you with their inscrutable knobby skins and their likely rockhard insides. Who's got three days to let them sit in a bag after you go full Last Crusade and choose unwisely? That's where OneThird's "freshness scanners" come in.

The company notes that up to 40 percent of the perishable food brought to market annually (~$1 trillion-worth) is eventually discarded before it reaches our kitchen tables. What's more, the current generation of produce scanners can only inform on lab-specific tests (like sugar content and acidity) rather than freshness or potential shelf life. The touch points from OneThird do and, according to the manufacturer, can reduce food waste in these situations by as much as 25 percent on average.

its a black box with a cradle for either strawberries or avocados that blasts a little red light at them and tells you if they're sufficiently squishy.
OneThird

“The astronomical volume of food that goes to waste each year is heartbreaking, particularly since so much is wasted in affluent countries. We’ve worked hard to create technology that helps to address this persistent, global challenge which directly impacts food scarcity,” said Marco Snikkers, CEO and founder of OneThird. “We are proud to have built the first product that accurately and objectively predicts the shelf life of fresh produce. The interest has been overwhelming and we aim to accelerate the deployment of our technology globally.”

Using propriety algorithms to interpret returns from a near-infrared laser, the OneThird devices can determine an avocado's shelf life in real time. The company makes two variants of the system, one for the end user in the produce aisle, and another for the growers in the supply chain.

22 Dec 13:38

Amazon Saved Over 10PB of Vital Ukrainian Data Using Snowball Edge SSDs

Amazon saved 10 petabytes of crucial Ukrainian government data using briefcase sized SSDs.
18 Nov 15:02

Taylor Swift debacle proves we should never, ever get back together with Ticketmaster

by Chris Smith
Taylor Swift Red
Omid Armin / Unsplash

OPINION: By screwing over Swifties, Ticketmaster has picked a fight with the wrong fanbase.

The utter debacle that was the ‘Verified Fan’ pre-sale for the Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ tour – which was supposed to allow qualifying fans the chance to buy before the free-for-all public sale – saw the mighty Ticketmaster site come crashing down.

Fans were stuck in queues for hours, only to find the box office was barren when they eventually reached the front. Some who’d received Verified codes were unable to access the queue at all. 

For those who eventually saw tickets were available, the dynamic pricing policy saw fans reportedly quoted prices of up to $700 for tickets that were originally priced between $200-$300. This ‘Dynamic Pricing’ initiative was supposed to discourage the ticket scalpers reselling for exorbitant prices by raising prices in line with demand. It failed. Those tickets are now selling for thousands instead of hundreds on the secondary market. Good work, Ticketmaster. Is it any surprise the Bad Blood is boiling over?

Now Ticketmaster has cancelled Friday’s public sale “due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand.”

It’s a mess. But it’s also an opportunity. An opportunity to truly say “no more”, and end Ticketmaster’s reign of terror over our favourite sports games, music concerts and theatre shows.

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Fans won’t Shake It Off 

Ticketmaster is used to copping flack from music fans, for its sky-high fees, abject failures to combat the bots sniping tickets from real fans, and more recently for its dynamic pricing initiative. It’s a truly disgusting display of unfettered capitalism, which turns the universal joy of live music into a first class-only experience for the most affluent.

But this feels different. This time Ticketmaster has thoroughly annoyed arguably the most passionate fanbase in music. Of course, there’ll never be enough tickets for everyone, but the sense of injustice and anger felt by Taylor Swift fans won’t be forgotten.

The momentum is growing to demand permanent action against Ticketmaster. The cancelling of Friday’s public sale shows the company is on the ropes and daren’t risk another problem. There’s a huge swell of anti-Ticketmaster sentiment out there, it’s being reported on by all the major news organisations. Fans, artists, and politicians can all do their bit.

Firstly, it’d help if Taylor herself spoke out on this. It shouldn’t rest on her shoulders, but if there’s anyone in the music industry with the power to ensure a new era of fairness for their fanbase, it’s her. She’s taken on tech before, ensuring artists were paid royalties for free Apple Music trials.

But she’s yet to comment on this Ticketmaster debacle – few artists ever do. Some fans are justifiably upset with her for the perception she must have opted into the dynamic pricing scam in the first place. That hasn’t been established, but it’s far more difficult for fans to say no to Ticketmaster than big name artists. The service became a monopoly after the Live Nation merger in 2009 and now there’s no other game in town for big events. They really are the ticket masters, but artists can and should do their part to protect loyal fans.

It’s easy to say fans should just boycott the biggest events until something is done about the company’s unfair, exploitative, and damn right greedy policies. But if the biggest fans don’t buy the tickets, someone else will. Why should the most ardent supporters of these bands and artists miss out?

It’s an incredibly tough pill to swallow, but I’ve accepted I’ll just never buy tickets to a big concert again after Ticketmaster’s imposition of dynamic pricing. I won’t be able to afford it, and I won’t pay above face value out of FOMO.

It’s also up to the politicians to act in the interest of the people. High profile democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (aka AOC) has called for Ticketmaster to be broken-up. There’s never been a better time to call your MP or representatives’ office and demand they take on the Ticketmaster problem.

Money for nothing

All of this is even more galling when you realise there’s never been a company that reaps such incredible rewards from doing so little. If there is, I can’t think of it. Yet its share of the spoils is unfathomably high, due to the ticketing monopoly it has been allowed to create over the years.

My wife and I always joke that we buy three tickets for every event, one for me, one for her, and one for Ticketmaster. Check the fees next time you checkout. For every two tickets you buy, the fees amount to a third. More Perfect Union, which advocates for breaking up Ticketmaster, says the fees sometimes amount to 78% of the price of the ticket.

It’s just too much. It has to stop. You don’t mess with Swifties; they’ll remember it all too well.

The post Taylor Swift debacle proves we should never, ever get back together with Ticketmaster appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

18 Nov 09:48

Twitter hit with mass resignations after Elon Musk's ‘hardcore’ ultimatum

by Karissa Bell

Elon Musk is now facing a new crisis at Twitter as a wave of employees seemed to reject his ultimatum of an “extremely hardcore” Twitter 2.0 or leave the company. Hours after a deadline for workers to check “yes” on a Google form accepting “long hours at high intensity, it seems a large number of employees have rejected Musk’s vision.

Exactly how many employees opted for severance over remaining at Twitter isn’t yet clear. The New York Timesreported the number was in the “hundreds,” while other early reports suggest the number could be much higher. The departures come after Musk already cut 50 percent of Twitter’s jobs in mass layoffs.

On Twitter, dozens of Twitter employees who had survived the initial round of layoffs tweeted farewell messages. One employee tweeted a video of a group of workers inside Twitter’s office counting down to the 5pm ET deadline on Musk’s ultimatum. “We’re all about to get fired,” he said.

Others tweeted messages alluding to Musk’s policies. In his Wednesday morning message, Musk had said that “only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade.”

As the deadline approached, Musk reportedly grew concerned about how many remaining employees could leave the company. In a new memo, he appeared to walk back some of his earlier comments banning all remote work, though he still said he would fire managers if remote workers on their teams weren’t performing.

But it seems the concession wasn’t enough for many at Twitter Platformer’s Zoe Schiffer reported Thursday that Musk and his lieutenants were struggling to figure out just how many employees had declined to check the “yes” box on his Google form, and that Twitter would be closing down access to its offices for a few days as an extra precaution.

The departures raise new questions about whether the remaining Twitter engineers will be able to reliably keep the service up and running. Current and former employees are already speculating that the latest exodus could further put Twitter’s ability to function at risk, especially with the start of the World Cup a few days away.

Twitter no longer has communications staff, but Musk so far hasn't publicly commented on the resignations.

12 Nov 06:15

Chinese GPU Dev Starts Global Sales of $245 RTX 3060 Ti Rival

Moore Threads MTT S80 graphics cards based on the Chunxiao architecture is now available.
12 Nov 06:06

Kevin Conroy, Voice of Batman In Animated Series and Arkham Games, Dies Aged 66

by Ryan Dinsdale

Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman in the 1990s Animated Series, the Arkham series of video games, and more, has died aged 66.

Announced on Facebook by Animated Series co-star Diane Pershing (who played Poison Ivy) and confirmed by Warner Bros. Discovery, Conroy died on November 10 following "a short battle with cancer".

"He's been ill for a while but he really put in a lot of time at the cons, to the joy of all of his fans," said Pershing in the post. "He will be sorely missed not just by the cast of the series but by his legion of fans all over the world."

Conroy also played Batman in The Killing Joke animated special and the Multiversus video game, and played Thomas Wayne in upcoming series Batman: Caped Crusader, though it's unclear if he will still feature in the role following his death.

Other co-stars shared their love for Conroy in a Warner Bros. Discovery press release, with Mark Hamill (who has played The Joker in several productions) saying simply that "Kevin was perfection".

He continued: "He was one of my favourite people on the planet, and I loved him like a brother. He truly cared for the people around him - his decency shone through everything he did. Every time I saw him or spoke with him, my spirits were elevated."

Casting and dialogue director Andrea Romano also shared her appreciation for Conroy following his death. "Kevin was far more than an actor whom I had the pleasure of casting and directing," she said. "He was a dear friend for 30 plus years whose kindness and generous spirit knew no boundaries. Kevin's warm heart, delightfully deep laugh, and pure love of life will be with me forever."

Several other fans and friends of Conroy took to social media to voice their love of the actor, including actress Tara Strong (above), podcaster Henry Gilbert (above), Injustice co-creator Ed Boon, games industry veteran Geoff Keighley, and many more.

Image Credit: Pacific Press/Getty Images

Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer. He'll talk about The Witcher all day.

09 Nov 14:58

Raspberry Pi Drives Holographic Anime Virtual Assistant

Jess Peter has used a Pi to drive a custom holographic anime virtual assistant who lives inside a cute little 3D-printed housing.
03 Nov 14:38

The Sandman season 2 is no longer a dream for Netflix fans

by tom.power@futurenet.com (Tom Power)

It's time for fans of The Sandman to stop dreaming – Netflix has officially renewed its TV adaptation of the hit comic series for a second season.

After months of deliberation, Netflix has given Neil Gaiman, Allan Heinberg, and company the go-ahead to make another season of The Sandman. The announcement was made on Twitter on November 2, just hours after a now-deleted tweet from DC Comics all-but-confirmed that the fantasy Netflix series would be returning to our screens (and our dreams).

Yes, it’s true: The Sandman will return to NetflixSays @neilhimself: “There are some astonishing stories waiting for Morpheus and the rest of them…Now it’s time to get back to work. There’s a family meal ahead, after all. And Lucifer is waiting for Morpheus to return to Hell” pic.twitter.com/WKiWp7IDkkNovember 3, 2022

See more

In a press release, Neil Gaiman – The Sandman's original creator and executive producer on Netflix's adaptation – expressed his delight over the show's renewal before teasing what fans can expect from the series' next entry.

"Millions upon millions of people have welcomed, watched and loved The Sandman on Netflix," he said. "From established Sandman fans to people who were simply curious, and then became obsessed with the Lord of Dreams, his family and their goings-on. It gives me unbelievable pleasure to say that, working with Netflix and Warner Bros., Allan Heinberg, David Goyer and I will be bringing even more of The Sandman stories to life. 

"There are some astonishing stories waiting for Morpheus and the rest of them (not to mention more members of the Endless Family to meet). Nobody is going to be happier about this than the Sandman cast and crew: they are the biggest Sandman fans there are. And now it's time to get back to work. There's a family meal ahead, after all. And Lucifer is waiting for Morpheus to return to Hell…"

The rumours are true. Netflix is thrilled that so many of you have been watching Sandman, and the thing we were all hoping would happen... has indeed happened... pic.twitter.com/zc5CrhsdZKNovember 3, 2022

See more

Understandably, there's no release date for The Sandman season 2 yet, nor has Netflix confirmed how many episodes the next season will contain. However, the streaming giant hinted that the fictional world Gaiman created will "continue to expand", suggesting that there may be spin-offs and more one-off episodic specials – such as season 1's secret 11th entry – to come.

It's unclear which comic books The Sandman's second season will pull from, too, but Netflix teased that its popular TV adaptation will "return with even more episodes and stories to be adapted from multiple The Sandman graphic novels". Showrunner Allan Heinberg previously confirmed that season 2 would heavily draw from the fourth graphic novel, aka Season of Mists. However, given that The Sandman season 1 comprised stories from the first three volumes in Gaiman's seminal works, the show's next outing is sure to pull from other books, including A Game of You or Fables and Reflections.


Analysis: a nightmare scenario no more

Morpheus stands on a barren landscape, with his magical helm on his head, during a sunset in Netflix's The Sandman TV series

The agonizing wait for word on The Sandman season 2 is over. (Image credit: Netflix)

The Sandman season 1 was released on August 5 and quickly became one of Netflix's hottest properties of 2022. The show was streamed for almost 70 million hours in the first few days post-release, and gained further traction in its first two weeks with more than 200 million hours streamed by August 21. It took a whole month for The Sandman's first season to officially drop out of Netflix's Top 10 most popular TV shows list – proof that Netflix's global fanbase was enthralled with Morpheus and company. 

It's unsurprising, then, that many clamored for Netflix to renew the series for another outing. Despite its evident popularity, though, fans of The Sandman were made to wait almost three months – from the show's initial release – for the streaming company to greenlight another season.

With every passing week, viewers became increasingly concerned about the prospects of a second season. And it's easy to see why – Netflix has had a habit for canceling some of its most beloved shows before their time is up, regardless of how well they performed. Add in the pricey production costs of The Sandman – Gaiman himself said it was a "really expensive show" to make – and a second season was never a formality.

Still, the nightmarish wait for news on The Sandman season 2 is finally over. If nothing else, we'll be getting another batch of episodes, and that's great news. In our review of The Sandman season 1, we said the series was "oh-so-nearly brilliant", so we're excited to see how Gaiman, Netflix, and company can make its next season even better.

For more Netflix-based content, check out our exclusive interview feature with The Sandman's cast, Gaiman, and Heinberg. Alternatively, read up on the best Netflix movies and best Netflix documentaries around.

02 Nov 09:37

God Of War Ragnarok Video Features Ben Stiller Channeling His Inner Kratos

God of War Ragnarok launches in a week, and to celebrate, Sony is counting down the days to its epic Nordic adventure with some family bonding. In a new trailer, Hollywood stars Ben Stiller, John Travolta, and basketball legend LeBron James sit down with their kids to discuss the relationship challenges facing Kratos and Atreus in their latest adventure, while also finding some common ground with the father-son duo.

A LeBreakthrough is had, Stiller looks naturally comfortable in his therapy armor, and Travolta recounts a thrilling tale of spilled salsa that ruined his armor, in his best performance since The Fanatic.

"Putting on the Kratos beard and makeup felt very empowering," Stiller said in a PS Blog post. "The war paint really is useful in terms of letting people know you mean business. I found the beard made me feel wiser…though [my son] Quin didn’t seem to feel that at all."

Continue Reading at GameSpot
28 Oct 07:51

The Witcher: How CD Projekt Red Created One of the Biggest Names in Gaming

by Ryan Dinsdale

CD Projekt Red may now have more than 800 developers working across some of the biggest names in RPGs, but when it first began work on The Witcher – which was released 15 years ago this week – it had none of that. It was known for distributing games in Poland, not developing, and very few outside of the country had heard of it or its new project, a dark fantasy RPG based on a series of novels and short stories.

What CD Projekt Red did have was ambition, and despite not knowing at times if it would even complete development on the original game, the team had already planned a trilogy of Witcher titles that would eventually make the game a household name. It’s almost as if a studio with no experience announced a trilogy of Lord of the Rings games, promising gameplay and a narrative as epic as Tolkien’s original. CD Projekt Red proved any naysayers wrong.

Following the announcement that 2007’s The Witcher is being remade in Unreal Engine 5, IGN looks back at the franchise’s beginnings to see what made it successful in the first place.

The Witcher Beginnings: A Crazy Plan

It's not that the CD Projekt Red group knew The Witcher would be successful, of course, as several members of its original team hadn’t created a game before, and none of them had created a game of this size. “We didn't know if the game would be a success or not,” Marcin Blacha, story director at CD Projekt Red, tells IGN. “Of course, we hoped it would appeal to players, but 15 years ago we all had much less experience than we do now, and we found it harder to judge what was right and what was not. Since we all liked RPGs very much, we wanted to be appreciated primarily by fans of this genre.”

Though a love for video games was always at its heart, CD Projekt began as a distribution company that translated English games into Polish. Within a few years it struck up a deal with Bioware and Interplay Entertainment to localise Baldur’s Gate, and it was this relationship that eventually led to the creation of The Witcher.

When Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance came around – a new entry only on consoles – the CD Projekt team was concerned. Console gaming wasn’t popular at the time in Poland but Interplay wasn’t making a PC version, meaning the latest version of CD Projekt’s biggest hit was suddenly off limits. The company asked Interplay to consider a PC version, and it did, telling CD Projekt to make it itself. Though the project was cancelled within a couple of months due to financial issues on Interplay’s side, CD Projekt had received the push it needed to consider pursuing game development.

A dedicated studio was founded – CD Projekt Red – and it began looking for an IP that it could turn into a video game. The idea was to bring in an established setting as something to lean on for the novice team. The Witcher and its author Andrzej Sapkowski were just as beloved as J.R.R. Tolkien in Poland, perhaps more so, and the books’ wandering, monster-killing protagonist was the perfect centrepiece for a video game.

“The team that made up the first Witcher game consisted of fans of Sapkowski's stories and novels,” says Blacha. “On the one hand, it gave us an advantage because we felt at ease creating a game with well-known characters in a well-known world. On the other hand, we felt pressure because we wanted our game to be liked by players as much as we liked Sapkowski's books.

“At that time, the source of financing for the game was the publishing part of CD Projekt, so we, working in the development arm, felt like a small experimental group implementing a crazy plan, for which stable and sensible people were earning money.”

“We felt like a small experimental group implementing a crazy plan, for which stable and sensible people were earning money.”

While he’s now synonymous with the franchise – brought even further into mainstream consciousness through Henry Cavill’s portrayal in the Netflix series – protagonist Geralt proved to be one of the most complicated inclusions early on (and was almost left out completely). CD Projekt Red built the game around another character called Berengar, who still appears as a NPC in The Witcher, as the team thought the player would feel restricted playing as a pre-established character.

“During the production of the game, however, we changed our minds,” says Blacha. “Geralt was too good to leave out.”

Designing him was another issue, as everyone familiar with the books had imagined Geralt in a different way.

“Working on a main character means that pretty much everyone at the company thinks they know best about how the character should look, and it’s impossible to please even half of your co-workers,” Paweł Mielniczuk tells IGN, an artist on the original Witcher who’s now art director of Cyberpunk 2077’s Phantom Liberty expansion.

A Prototype and an E3

Around a year into development on The Witcher, CD Projekt Red put together a prototype and used the company's distribution contacts to present it to various publishers. The response was not positive, forcing the team to essentially reset production. One old contact did come through later, however, as Bioware licensed out its Aurora Engine (used for Neverwinter Nights) and gave CD Projekt Red another chance.

Another year and yet another prototype later, Bioware asked CD Projekt Red if it wanted to show The Witcher at its E3 booth in 2004, though the team would have to prove their worth. Though all it had was a proof of concept demo that didn’t even have Geralt as the main character, CD Projekt Red presented The Witcher to Bioware.

“We were totally unknown as a developer. No track record, nothing,” said co-founder and CEO Marcin Iwiński in a recent developer interview. “And suddenly the gods of RPGs invite us to show them the stuff. The build was crashy as hell, and we were super stressed because if we showed it and they said, ‘You should work more on this,’ then I think we’re done. I think we just abandon everything. It will be the end.”

It was not the end, of course, as Bioware liked what they saw.

“Tucked away in the Bioware booth in the back of West Hall was one of the true surprises of the show: The Witcher,” IGN said at the time. “While this year's show was full of sequels and not many surprises, Bioware actually pulled a fast one on us.”

CD Projekt Red and The Witcher had been introduced to the world.

Development continued for the next few years without too many issues, though some elements of the game had to be cut back as CD Projekt Red’s ambition outweighed its resources. “None of us had worked on a game of this size and complexity before, and it quickly turned out that our plans were too ambitious,” says Blacha. “The game’s plot had to be much shorter than we originally assumed, so we rewrote the plot of individual parts of the game, but also added more choices and consequences. Many times we thought that we would not be able to finish this project in a reasonable time, but thanks to passion and sheer determination, we did it.”

Release Day

The Witcher was finally released on October 26, 2007, and was received positively by critics. “The Witcher really is a good game and one that PC RPG fans will surely enjoy,” IGN said in our review. “It combines some entertaining and fast-paced combat with a well realized world and pretty decent story that branches and can end in three different fashions.”

It sold well throughout Europe too as CD Projekt Red intended. “At the time, the fact that the game was released only on PC, and that it gained popularity mainly in Europe, wasn’t a bad thing for us,” Blacha says. “We were thinking more locally. It was really important to us that we had completed a large project and built the largest development studio in Poland at the same time.”

It did go almost unnoticed in the United States, however, something that came as a surprise to Iwiński, who also told the story of his visit to New York just after The Witcher launched. “I went to a couple of GameStops and I was expecting a wall of Witcher or something, [and then] I was looking for ‘W’ down on the floor and I couldn’t find it," Iwiński says in the developer interview. He asked a staff member but they hadn’t even heard of it, and he later found out that Atari, who had collaborated with CD Projekt Red to publish the game, just didn’t have the budget for a major U.S. launch.

The Witcher was also a completely unknown franchise, as Sapkowski’s first book wouldn’t arrive stateside until a year after the game in 2008. This was also long before the Netflix show, Dark Horse Comics series, or anything else.

“Our debut was flawed,” says Blacha, who admitted the game wasn’t quite up to the standard that CD Projekt Red wanted. “We were happy with finishing the project but still wanted to improve upon it.”

So the CD Projekt Red team did just that. “We largely re-edited the English translation of The Witcher and re-recorded many lines of dialogue. We also worked on additional content for the game and created DLC offering a new adventure. All of these tweaks, big and small, contributed to The Witcher: Enhanced Edition, which gave the game a second life.”

This capitalised on a steadily growing popularity, as more and more people were playing the game after hearing good things. The Witcher actually wound up selling better in its second quarter than its first.

Sequels and Consoles

CD Projekt Red was ready for true global success and launched two projects in an attempt to achieve it. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings would capitalise on the success of the first game with upgrades across the board when released in 2011, while a console version of the original announced one year later would open it up to new markets. The former was incredibly successful, and the latter a complete disaster.

CD Projekt Red outsourced development of a console version of the first game, called The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf, to French studio Widescreen Games. Problems immediately arose, with the developer requiring regular help from CD Projekt Red, and as the game was outsourced because the developer couldn’t handle two projects to begin with, this became an issue.

The console version was eventually scrapped, but not before CD Projekt Red had poured millions of Atari-funded dollars into it. Unsurprisingly the publisher wanted its investment back, and facing a bill it frankly couldn’t afford, CD Projekt Red signed over The Witcher 2’s publishing rights in North America to Atari to make up its debt.

Though it was a tough time for CD Projekt Red, the developer moved on and eventually released the second game in 2011. “The Witcher 2 was our first real AAA game that was able to reach a lot of players, thanks to a combination of great visuals, music, voice acting, decent combat, and a fascinating story from a very unique world,” says Paweł Sasko, a quest designer on The Witcher 2 and currently Cyberpunk 2077’s quest director. “It was our first attempt to really produce a global hit, reaching far beyond just Polish gamers, and to attract people who didn't know the books by Andrzej Sapkowski.”

It was also well received, and thanks to these upgrades and an Xbox 360 version, CD Projekt Red had succeeded in expanding its presence across the world. “That goal was achieved well enough to give us resources and fuel to build The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt,” says Sasko, “a game that for the first time attempted to be truly open, with an immersive story, believable world, and hundreds of hours of playtime.

"When development started in 2012 we didn't know how to build a game with a very strong story and characters in a completely open setting yet, because nobody had done it at that point. We all knew the Elder Scrolls series and loved those games, but we aspired to tell a story as captivating as the two previous Witcher games.”

The Crowning Achievement

Creating such a game wasn’t easy, especially when CD Projekt Red planned to retire Geralt as The Witcher’s protagonist. “After 10 years and three installments of games about the Witcher, not counting the expansions, we treated Geralt as an old friend,” says Blacha. “On the other hand, during the production of The Witcher 3, we felt that we needed a break from him. When creating its second expansion Blood and Wine, we knew that Geralt would retire and we decided to send him to a warm and pleasant place where he would be taking care of vines and resting on his porch."

Geralt’s last hurrah had to be done in style, of course, so for The Witcher 3 CD Projekt Red finally brought in arguably the second and third most important characters in the Witcher world: Yennefer and Ciri. Both were meticulously created, with Mielniczuk saying the team spent a year crafting the former based on Polish model Klaudia Wróbel before scrapping what they had and starting over. “We made the decision to move away from what we’d scanned and instead focus on modelling something that better reflected Yennefer’s character,” Mielniczuk says. “I recall slowly chiselling away at Ciri’s face for almost three years.”

Introducing these characters allowed CD Projekt Red to reach a new level of storytelling as it was immediately able to build on Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri’s relationship that was so beloved in Sapkowski’s books.

“Once we knew that we had Ciri and Yennefer in the game, solving many problems was easy because this triangle of characters worked perfectly in the books and could easily be transplanted to become a vehicle for interesting stories in the game,” says Blacha. “By the time we'd finished production of The Witcher 3, it turned out that games had started to explore telling stories that focus on paternal relationships, and at this stage we were already very pleased with Ciri as a character and her role in the game's plot. We knew that we were doing the Geralt-Ciri duo well.”

The Witcher 3 launched in 2015 to the highest praise CD Projekt Red had ever received. “Massive in size, and meticulously detailed, The Witcher 3 ends Geralt's story on a high note,” we said in our review. It would go on to win IGN’s Game of the Year Award later that year. CD Projekt Red and The Witcher had become major names in the video game industry, spawning myriad offshoots including a card game, comic book series, manga, cook book, and more. And though it’s not technically connected to the games, it’s hard not to imagine that their popularity made Netflix pay attention to the franchise ahead of its adaptations, which as of now totals two different shows and an animated film.

Though thought to be finished following The Witcher 3, the video game world is also far from over for the franchise. Not only is the original Witcher being remade but CD Projekt Red announced earlier this month that it has plans for at least four other new Witcher games, headlined by another trilogy featuring a new (but perhaps familiar) protagonist. Ahead of this new era though, Blacha reflects on what he and his team have accomplished.

“It gives me pleasure to think about the vineyard in Toussaint,” he says, “because Geralt was a good companion on a long journey, during which I learned how to make games and had the opportunity to be a co-creator on one of the best video games and most recognizable franchises in the world.”

Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer. He'll talk about The Witcher all day.

18 Oct 13:28

Lenovo Showcases Concept Laptop With Rollable Display

Laptop screen rolling action is mechanized. Looks similar to ThinkPad X1 Fold (2022) when fully extended. We also caught a glimpse of a new e-Ink Yoga tablet with stylus.
12 Oct 09:39

Tom Cruise's Space Movie Will Include Him Doing an Actual Spacewalk

by Kenneth Shepard

Mission Impossible and Top Gun: Maverick star Tom Cruise is set to star in a movie shot in space thanks to a partnership with NASA, and Universal wants to make him the “the first civilian to do a spacewalk outside of the space station.”

In an interview with BBC, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Chairwoman Donna Langley spoke about the project, which will have Cruise and the rest of the film crew take a rocket to the International Space Station to shoot parts of the movie in space.

Cruise and director Doug Liman pitched the film to Langley over Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic, and she says the movie's overarching plot "actually takes place on Earth, and then the character needs to go up to space to save the day.” Some scenes will include Cruise’s character walking outside of the space station itself, which will give the movie something other movies set in outer space have only been able to emulate.

“Tom Cruise is taking us to space. He’s taking the world to space. That’s the plan,” Langley told BBC. “We have a great project in development with Tom, that does contemplate him doing just that. Taking a rocket up to the space station and shooting and hopefully being the first civilian to do a spacewalk outside of the space station.”

The as-of-yet-unnamed film was announced back in 2020, with Cruise and Limen’s collaboration being a major tentpole of the announcement. Cruise and Limen previously worked together as actor and director on Edge of Tomorrow and American Made.

Kenneth Shepard is a writer covering games, entertainment, and queerness all around the internet. Find him on Twitter at @shepardcdr, and listen to his biweekly video game retrospective podcast Normandy FM, which is currently covering Cyberpunk 2077.

05 Oct 11:13

EU votes in favor of making USB-C a requirement, and all eyes are on the iPhone

by tips@androidcentral.com (Nickolas Diaz)
The European Parliament has passed a law that will make the USB-C port the common charging port amongst mobile devices. The law isn't expected to go into full effect until 2024 with it expanding to laptops in 2026.
05 Oct 08:23

Dune: The Sisterhood: Emily Watson And Shirley Henderson Will Star In The HBO Max Series

by Erin Brady

After what felt like ages since we last heard about this series, we finally have our two leads for "Dune: The Sisterhood." The prequel series to Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of "Dune" will star Emily Watson and Shirley Henderson, with them portraying Valya and Tula Harkonnen respectively.

If those names sound familiar to you, then you likely know your "Dune" lore. However, for newbies who were introduced to Frank Herbert's world through last year's film, here's a brief rundown. Valya and Tula are sisters who end up becoming a part of an underground organization called the Sisterhood of Rossak. First introduced in the 2012 novel "Sisterhood of Dune" by Herbert's son Brian Herbert, this organization would eventually evolve into the Bene Gesserit, which featured prominently in the original "Dune" novels as well as Villeneuve's adaptation.

Fear Is The Mind-Killer

Given how long it has been since we received news on this series, we wouldn't blame you if you thought it was among the many projects canceled by Warner Bros. Discovery earlier this year. Some of us here at /Film thought the same! Thankfully, this certainly doesn't look to be the case, especially with Watson and Henderson slated to star.

Diane Ademu-John, who helped write and produce episodes of "The Haunting of Bly Manor" and "Medium," will serve as the series showrunner. Villeneuve will serve as an executive producer as he films the upcoming sequel "Dune: Part Two." The aforementioned Brian Herbert and his daughter Kim will also produce alongside Jon Spaihts, Scott Z. Burns, Cait Collins, John Cameron, Matthew King, and Byron Merritt.

Not much is known about the series and whether it will be a faithful adaptation of "Sisterhood of Dune." However, Variety reports that the official logline says it will follow "the Harkonnen Sisters as they combat forces that threaten the future of humankind, and establish the fabled sect known as the Bene Gesserit." What these forces are, though, and whether they will be any different from the anti-computer extremists from 2012 still remains to be seen.

"Dune: The Sisterhood" does not yet have a tentative release date, but "Dune: Part Two" is expected to arrive in theaters on November 17, 2023.

Read this next: The Most Controversial Scenes In Sci-Fi Movies

The post Dune: The Sisterhood: Emily Watson and Shirley Henderson Will Star in the HBO Max Series appeared first on /Film.

05 Oct 08:21

What Can The Rings Of Power Adapt? A Guide To The Lord Of The Rings' Rights Issues

by Jeremy Mathai

Warriors have their swords, wizards have their walking sticks, and harfoots have their, well, hairy feet. But for those of us on the outside looking in at fantastical shows like "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," we may have nothing but questions about how exactly this sprawling story in season 1 came together to begin with. The endless handwringing over fidelity to author J.R.R. Tolkien's work and whether this story truly "feels like Tolkien" enough have driven plenty of headlines, but there may remain some confusion over just what source material "The Rings of Power" is adapting in the first place and how exactly this new story is meant to fit into the vast legendarium.

The short answer? Unlike Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" (or even other fantasy contemporaries, like the ongoing "House of the Dragon"), series creators J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay didn't have the benefit of any single text to draw upon in order to build out their scripts. More to the point, this show technically exists in a separate continuity altogether from Jackson's acclaimed trilogy of movies — a legal obstacle that makes many of the shared characters, locations, and even designs between "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Rings of Power" that much more complicated. The long answer, then? Well, that would require clearing up the muddied water surrounding most discussions of this fascinating and relatively complicated take on Middle-earth.

So for those who may not know their "Silmarillion" from Sauron — and even for those who do — consider this a handy explainer rounding up all the information we know about "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," the specific Tolkien writing it's adapting, and how it conquered its toughest foe yet: those pesky rights issues.

What Did Amazon Buy Anyway?

It's the million-dollar question — $250 million, actually. When Amazon Studios first purchased the television rights to create what would eventually become "The Rings of Power," the news inspired hot takes, kneejerk reactions, and no shortage of eyebrow-raising questions.

Hesitant fans immediately wondered what material this show could even adapt in the first place. Such skepticism came from the knowledge that the Tolkien Estate — the notoriously hard-to-please legal entity considered to be custodians and caretakers of Tolkien's legacy — jealously guard the rights to "The Silmarillion" under lock and key, preventing it from being adapted in any form after the Tolkien family felt jilted by the liberties Peter Jackson took with his film trilogy. This meant that the author's golden goose, a veritable treasure trove of epic poems and tales depicting events taking place long before "The Lord of the Rings," remains strictly off-limits.

Instead, Amazon's deal clearly defined the parameters of what could and couldn't be translated to the small screen. To do this, Payne and McKay had to turn to alternative sources. As the showrunners once explained:

"We have the rights solely to 'The Fellowship of the Ring,' 'The Two Towers,' 'The Return of the King,' the appendices, and 'The Hobbit.'  And that is it. We do not have the rights to 'The Silmarillion,' 'Unfinished Tales,' 'The History of Middle-earth,' or any of those other books."

So the writers resorted to loopholes: adapting "The Lord of the Rings" chapters where characters reference historical events that took place in the First and Second Ages and, more than anything else, the lengthy appendices included at the end of "The Return of the King" that went into greater detail and provided the basis for "The Rings of Power."

Wait, So The Rings Of Power Isn't A Prequel To The Movies?

When is a prequel not actually a prequel? When the complicated ins and outs of Tolkien rights come into play.

Despite common misconceptions that "The Rings of Power" and Peter Jackson's groundbreaking "The Lord of the Rings" movies are canonical with one another — understandably so, give several shared characters, many of the same locations, and even certain examples of creature design — "The Rings of Power" is prohibited from existing within the same exact continuity. Unable to contradict or add to anything that Jackson did with his films (which explains why Amazon abruptly backed away from bringing the director on board as a consultant in any capacity whatsoever), the series instead must stand on its own two feet rather than function as a traditional prequel.

Admittedly, this doesn't really affect the viewing experience of "The Rings of Power" all that much since both properties are rooted in the same source material, which means there are ample opportunities for clever retconning.

Familiar characters like Elrond and Galadriel, portrayed by Robert Aramayo and Morfyyd Clark respectively, are known quantities to those who watched Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett play different (and much older) versions of those characters in "The Lord of the Rings." The fact that they aren't literally the same heroes we saw before, however, shouldn't make much of a difference to anyone except the biggest lore obsessives. Their characterizations still draw upon how Tolkien originally envisioned them, which means it's fair game to compare their younger selves in the show with how the movies interpreted them much later on in their lives.

The showrunners addressed this as well, citing a mandate of "different but familiar" in taking inspiration from Jackson's Middle-earth without staying beholden to it.

Bending The Rules

After all this talk about how ironclad and constricting this rights situation is for "The Rings of Power," however, it's worth noting that not all aspects of this Amazon deal seem to be as intractable and nigh indestructible as the One Ring itself.

Consider the very glaring fact that, despite taking place in a separate continuity entirely, certain aspects of "The Rings of Power" appear to be pulled straight from Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" movies. For one thing, the Amazon series brought back artists such as composer Howard Shore, concept artist John Howe, and others who were involved with the original movies, adding more confusion to the proceedings through this shared DNA. But much more noticeably, several character and creature designs — from the look of Sauron himself (as glimpsed briefly early in the premiere) to the fiery balrog to even invoking certain "Silmarillion"-exclusive lore (as noted by Collider) — are exactly as they appear in material outside of Amazon's purview.

How to explain the studio's apparent flouting of their own deal?

Well, consider that the show's creatives worked closely with Tolkien Estate director and Tolkien's own grandson, Simon Tolkien, throughout the process. This unprecedented collaboration, previously unheard-of in the history of the Tolkien Estate and its tumultuous relationship with previous adaptations, almost certainly thawed the frost between both parties and allowed for a relaxing of the rules. This seems to have been alluded to in a recent Variety profile of Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke, who remarked on Simon Tolkien's work on the series and that "...the estate was very open and encouraging for reinvention, but always in ways that stay true to Tolkien. We all have the same kind of vision for this property. There was never any disconnect there, which is probably why it worked out so well."

This partnership seems to have worked out so far on "The Rings of Power," giving us a thrilling and unique fantasy story that — complicated rights issues and all — should provide even more excitement to come.

Read this next: 13 Fantasy Shows Like The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power You Should Check Out

The post What Can The Rings of Power Adapt? A Guide to The Lord of the Rings' Rights Issues appeared first on /Film.

30 Sep 22:03

How The Rings of Power episode 6's explosive ending was brought to life

by tom.power@futurenet.com (Tom Power)

Full spoilers for The Rings of Power episode 6 follow. You've been warned.

The Rings of Power has officially arrived. Sure, the high fantasy Prime Video show actually launched on September 2, but it's needed a hugely significant episode to truly announce itself on the prestige TV stage.

Episode 6 is the epic and explosive entry Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV series and audiences have been waiting for. It's packed with frenetic and fraught set-pieces, tells a story with multiple twists and turns, and culminates in a stunning finale that'll have viewers' jaws on the floor long after the credits roll.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of work went into designing and crafting episode 6's shock ending. And, as co-showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne told TechRadar at an exclusive preview screening, the episode's final moments were planned as season 1's tentpole moment as far back as 2018.

Galadriel stands and stares in shock at the approaching ash cloud from the newly created Mount Doom in The Rings of Power episode 6

The Rings of Power's creators knew episode 6 would be a key turning point in the series' overarching narrative. (Image credit: Matt Grace/Prime Video)

"[It took] four years," McKay says. "We've known about that sequence for that long."

"When we were blocking out season 1, we had a whiteboard of character arcs for Galadriel, Elendil, Isildur, Arondir, Bronwyn – all the main characters in this episode," Payne adds. "All of those journeys were leading to this point when we finally introduce Mordor."

That's right, The Rings of Power episode 6 shows us how Mordor – and its iconic volcano, aka Mount Doom – were ultimately created. 

Viewers had already speculated that Mordor's introduction wasn't too far away, with previous season 1 episodes teasing as much. In episode 3, Galadriel and Elendil pour over some old Middle-earth maps, which show that the region known as the Southlands sits right on top of where Mordor exists in J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings novels. Adar's orc army is based in this location throughout season 1 – an area where they've dug tunnels and deforested large swathes of land – which had lent further proof to Mordor's eventual arrival.

What audiences didn't expect is that Mordor and Mount Doom would be born this early in the series. However, those familiar with Lord of the Rings' extensive history would've been able to work out that this iconic location would be part of episode 6. Its official title – Udûn – is also the name of a barren valley situated in northwest Mordor, so it wouldn't have taken much for diehard Tolkien fans to make the connection.

Still, for casual Lord of the Rings fans and general audiences, the birth of Mordor and Mount Doom in The Rings of Power is a truly shocking and visually spectacular moment. So, how was the sequence developed?

The eruption of an idea

Queen Míriel, Halbrand, and Arondir look shocked as Adar's masterplan is put into full effect in The Rings of Power episode 6

The Rings of Power's sixth episode is the series' most defining entry yet. (Image credit: Matt Grace/Prime Video)

Udûn's finale was a seismic undertaking for everyone involved in The Rings of Power. The explosive sequence's final edit comprises multiple VFX shots, complete with a huge volcanic eruption, searingly hot rocks raining down from the sky, a storm-fuelled ash cloud, and fires breaking out as the Southlands and its inhabitants are consumed by the cataclysmic event.

Before its visually arresting effects could be added in post, The Rings of Power's chief creative team had to make sure that events preceding the eruption could lead to the mountain – that becomes Mount Doom – violently blowing its top. After all, such a move is only possible via the collision of its vast lava pit with water from Ostilith's deep reservoir. That happens after Southland turncoat Waldreg uses the sword hilt, which Adar reacquires from the Southlanders in episode 6, as a key to unlock part of Ostilith's dam. It's a move that allows a deluge of water to rush through numerous tunnels – dug by the orcs – and snake its way to the ice covered mountain, which becomes Mount Doom.

All of those journeys were leading to this point

J.D. Payne, Rings of Power co-creator

Could a combination of an expansive volume of water and a giant pool of lava, then, cause such an explosive eruption? According to real-world science, yes.

"One of our writers knows a geologist," Payne explains. "So we asked them if water and lava could unite to create this gigantic explosion, and it could. They said 'if you have enough steam pressure that builds up in a confined space, the entropy inside the volcano will increase, eventually causing it to blow."

"We painstakingly studied what actually happens in volcanic eruptions," VFX producer Ron Ames adds. "We looked at photographs and we read historical documents on Pompeii so we had a clearer idea of the scale of these naturally occurring explosions."

Adar addresses his orc army by fire light in The Rings of Power episode 6

The Rings of Power episode 6's finale combined real-world footage with CGI elements. (Image credit: Prime Video)

Buoyed by the backing of real-life science, The Rings of Power's huge crew set about creating a finale that would herald the show's epic arrival on the world stage. Typical pre-production work, such as concept art, storyboards, and location scouting were carried out well in advance of principal photography. Once those elements were in place, multiple camera crews set out to film external shots – wide and sweeping landscape, as well as close-ups – to use during the sequence.

"It was important to us to use real world locations," Ames reveals. "The actual mountain itself is based on a real location. The cliff that Ostilith sits on is an actual location. We went to those areas and shot backgrounds using helicopters. We also landed in those areas and took photographs and plates. Even the water you see in the final sequence is real – it's just mixed in with some CGI elements to aid the flow of this massive deluge as it careens down the valley."

Heating up in post

Mount Doom erupts in front of a blue sky in The Rings of Power episode 6

The Rings of Power looked at historical volcanic events to bring authenticity to Mount Doom's eurption. (Image credit: Prime Video)

With pre-production and principal photography in the can, the lengthy post-production process could begin.

Like many of The Rings of Power's VFX-laden sequences, episode 6's finale was developed by multiple animation studios. Weta Digital, who worked on Peter Jackson's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movie trilogies, produced the Ostilith cliffside-based portion. Lucasfilm's Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) crafted the underground sequence, which leads to the violent explosion. Meanwhile, Australian-based studio Rising Sun were tasked with creating the post-eruption scene, including the spewed lava rocks and rapidly traveling ash cloud.

"Once all the vendors mixed each part together, you can't tell where one shot starts and another ends," Ames says. "It's all seamlessly connected and I couldn't be more proud of the teams that worked together to compose and knit it together. It's one of my favorite sequences in the whole show."

Crunching has become a hot topic of conversation in the film and TV industries, with big-budget projects – including She-Hulk: Attorney at Law on Disney Plus – and studios coming under fire over employees' working conditions.

We looked at photographs and we read historical documents on Pompeii

Ron Amex, Rings of Power VFX producer

Given the scale of this sequence and 9,500 other VFX-based shots in season 1, it seems inevitable that The Rings of Power's backstage crew would have to crunch at some point. Ames, though, was adamant that no one under his supervision would be forced to work longer – at the cost of their physical and mental wellbeing – to ensure sequences like the Mount Doom one were completed in time.

"Having seen the film business change and being an advocate for technology, I would say mindfulness and and an approach to sharing the load is extremely important," Ames says. "Largely, we didn't work more than 12-hour days. In some instances, I had to send crew members home to sleep and shower – they all worked extremely hard, but everyone got to go home, to see their families, to attend weddings, and do all the things humans need to do. I think the future of filmmaking requires us to look at mindfulness in the workplace and how to move forward in a balanced way to get the most creativity out of our artists."

Udûn's final sequence is a visually striking sight to behold. It's the brainchild of multiple creators and studios, all of whom worked diligently to collaborate on The Rings of Power's most harrowing spectacle to date. "It was ILM VFX supervisor Jason Smith's creation," Ames says, but the countless artists, animators, renderers, and other crew members deserve as much praise for creating such a devastatingly beautiful moment in Middle-earth's history.

With two more episodes to come in season 1 – not to mention four more seasons' worth of storytelling to come – The Rings of Power will contain more shocking, big-budget sequences like episode 6's finale. Right now, though, Udûn is the explosive show-defining entry that the Prime Video series required – and it'll take something truly amazing to usurp it.

The Rings of Power's first six episodes are available to stream on Prime Video now.