Canadian crypto exchange owner allegedly funneled money into secret accounts


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The founder of Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX reportedly siphoned money to other accounts without users’ knowledge before being reported dead last year. As The Wall Street Journal and CoinDesk report, the exchange’s court-appointed monitor released a 70-page report laying out its financial situation. It says founder Gerald Cotten transferred “significant volumes” of currency to personal accounts on rival exchanges, apparently using funds to pay for luxury goods and real estate.

QuadrigaCX’s site went down early this year, leaving customers out in the cold. The monitor says that QuadrigaCX owes 76,000 users around $215 million CAD (or around $163 million USD), but investigators have only recovered around $33 million….

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Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2’s creators want the game to grow up — but stay weird


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In the cult 2004 role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, vampires love to dance. Your protagonist can show up at a nightclub and jump into the center of the action, throwing their limbs wildly with an enthusiasm that’s not generally credited to the undead. And in a demo of Bloodlines upcoming sequel from Hardsuit Labs and Paradox Interactive, dancing is one of the first things you see, courtesy of a team member who did “extensive research” into the game’s original animations.

Developer Hardsuit Labs seems to be building a lot of these little, familiar details in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. But in an interview at E3, its creators also talked about how to translate the original game’s tone and ideas into a new…

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Magic Leap sues Nreal for allegedly stealing AR glasses design


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Major augmented reality hardware startup Magic Leap has sued competitor Nreal — which was founded by a former Magic Leap employee — for allegedly ripping off its technology and design. In a lawsuit filed yesterday, Magic Leap accuses Nreal founder Chi Xu of “blatant copying” and an attempt to “free ride on Magic Leap’s business, image, and confidential information” with its upcoming Nreal Light glasses.

Xu worked at Magic Leap for roughly a year between the summers of 2015 and 2016. Magic Leap alleges that Xu used this time to snoop on confidential research and development while “neglect[ing] his work duties” at the company. After leaving, he returned to China and founded Nreal, which demonstrated its Nreal Light glasses at CES in early…

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Openly Operated wants to make privacy policies actually mean something


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In the world of tech, privacy has become a selling point. Apple promises that “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.” Google claims it’s making privacy more than a “luxury good.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims “the future is private.” But consumers are often still at the mercy of companies. We have to trust that platforms aren’t secretly tracking us or using our data to train facial recognition algorithms — and that their privacy policies, which can be vague or impenetrable, offer any real protection.

Johnny Lin and Rahul Dewan, the co-creators of a new standard called Openly Operated, want to change this. Openly Operated is a set of guidelines for auditing how apps and web services deal with user data, like a…

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The new Blair Witch game will let you pet its dog


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During Microsoft’s keynote at E3, we learned that The Blair Witch Project — which helped revolutionize horror in 1999 — will be getting a new video game tie-in. The PC and Xbox game, known simply as Blair Witch, debuts in a couple of months on August 30th. But with a short trailer that just barely revealed its connection, it left a lot of questions unanswered. So what exactly is going on with Blair Witch?

As the trailer mentions, Blair Witch is set primarily in 1996, which is a couple of years after the original film’s events. You’ll play a former police officer named Ellis who joins a search party for a missing boy in Maryland’s Burkittsville woods, home of the notorious Blair Witch. Before long, Ellis gets lost in the woods with only…

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Neal Stephenson’s Fall is Paradise Lost with brain uploading and weaponized fake news


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The Singularity — a moment where technological progress speeds up exponentially and humanity as we know it becomes obsolete — has jokingly been referred to as the “rapture of the nerds.” Neal Stephenson’s novel Fall, or, Dodge in Hell takes things a step further: what if the nerds weren’t simply the prophets of a new order, but literally became our gods?

Over a sprawling web of modern techno-thriller, near-future sci-fi, and high fantasy subplots, Fall lays out a theory on the mind-body problem, a retelling of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and a riff on the classic sci-fi trope of brain uploading. It’s an ambitious but massively uneven book — mixing wide-eyed wonder with a pessimism that borders on sociopathy.

Spoilers for some major plot…

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Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t look weird enough to be edgy


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At E3 2019, there are two versions of Cyberpunk 2077. First, there’s the version that developer CD Projekt Red — best known for the Witcher series — is teasing in interviews, presentations, swag, and posters lining the walls of its promotional booth. It’s a narratively deep role-playing game set in a cutthroat world where people change their bodies radically according to the whims of employers and cultural fads, trying to survive in an economic system that objectifies and exploits them in surreal ways.

Then, there’s the thing that CD Projekt Red is showing behind closed doors: a good-looking but generic shooter-RPG hybrid with an ‘80s retro-futuristic sensibility and a grab bag of William Gibson references. The closer Cyberpunk gets to…

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Roller Champions is a Ubisoft roller derby game with a preview available today


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Ubisoft is announcing a roller derby game called Roller Champions, and a PC-only pre-alpha preview is available today. Roller Champions is described as a team-based, player-versus-player sports game where players work their way up from street derby leagues to championships. It’s playable until June 14th, and when it officially launches in early 2020, it will apparently run on a free-to-play model.

Roller Champions leaked shortly before E3 began, and here, it looks more or less like what we expected: a colorful game with a cartoonish style evocative of Fortnite, full of cool-looking stunts and custom outfits. The pre-alpha will feature two arenas and six playable characters, which will be grouped in teams of three.

Here’s the official…

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Watch Dogs Legion launches on March 6th, 2020


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Watch Dogs Legion, the third installment in the Watch Dogs open-world action-hacking series, will be released on March 6th, 2020. Ubisoft announced the news during its E3 keynote in Los Angeles, along with a trailer and an 11-minute gameplay video seen below.

As earlier leaks suggested, Watch Dogs Legion is set in a dystopian, hyper-surveilled London in the wake of Brexit. Instead of featuring a single protagonist, it lets players take control of other characters with different skill sets — building on a feature that let you see details about non-player characters in previous games.

Ubisoft promises that each character has “a persistent schedule and backstory,” and you can recruit them to the hacker group DedSec by convincing them to…

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Some Shenmue III Kickstarter backers want refunds because it’s an Epic Games Store exclusive


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Some backers of action game Shenmue III’s multimillion-dollar Kickstarter campaign are upset that it will launch exclusively on Epic’s Games Store, scuttling plans for a launch on Steam. Developer Ys Net revealed Epic’s exclusivity during E3’s PC Gaming Show today. Almost immediately, backers who had specifically requested a Steam key flooded Ys Net’s Kickstarter announcement, with some requesting refunds.

Shenmue III will launch November 19th on PlayStation 4 and PC. As SavyGamer founder Lewie Procter noted on Twitter, Ys Net previously listed Steam as a requirement for playing the game on PC. Later, however, the studio and its publisher Deep Silver decided that “the Epic Games Store would be the best distribution platform option.”…

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The 5 biggest announcements from UploadVR’s 2019 E3 VR showcase


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This was the first year of the UploadVR’s E3 virtual reality showcase, and although we’ve probably seen bigger individual VR announcements at E3, the show was packed with trailers and game reveals. We’ll see a lot of these games get full releases over the next year, but for now, here’s some of the most exciting stuff.

Arizona Sunshine’s creators are back with After the Fall

Arizona Sunshine is one of VR’s best first-person shooters, and at E3, developer Vertigo Games announced a new co-op shooter called After the Fall. The game is set in an alternate 2005 amid the ruins of post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, and it’s designed for up to four players who will explore the hostile landscape, craft gear, and take on hordes of enemies. The game…

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How to watch the E3 VR Showcase and the PC Gaming Show at E3 2019


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Unlike most of the press conferences at E3, the PC Gaming Show and UploadVR E3 VR Showcase aren’t focused on a specific publisher. The inaugural VR Showcase — which UploadVR announced in April — kicks off early on Monday in Los Angeles. The PC Gaming Showcase, which has been around for a few years now, will follow later that morning.

The VR Showcase is supposed to feature 30 games, including some newly revealed titles for all the major VR headsets. VR giant Oculus is confirmed as a participant, and so are several other studios, including Budget Cuts developer Neat Corporation, Arizona Sunshine developer Vertigo Games, and Creed and Raw Data studio Survios.

After the VR showcase wraps up, we’ll be clicking over to the PC Gaming Show,…

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Deathloop is the next game from the studio behind Dishonored


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Arkane, the studio behind the Dishonored series and Prey, is back with a new game called Deathloop — which is apparently about two assassins known as “The Captain” and “Jules” attempting to kill each other (and their targets) while stuck in a time loop in a mysterious island known as Blackreef. The trailer above gives us a hint at the game’s vibe, and we learned at Bethesda’s E3 press conference that it will combine a “mind-bending story” with the “meticulously designed levels” that Arkane is known for.

Deathloop is being developed at Arkane’s Lyon studio, and unfortunately, we have no idea when it’s coming out — or when we might see more. But it’s a nicely weird-looking project that promises fights, supernatural powers, and a strange…

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Bethesda announces Orion cloud gaming system, with beta later this year


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Bethesda Softworks has announced a software platform that’s supposed to dramatically improve cloud gaming performance. The system, called Orion, could be added to a wide variety of games across different game streaming services. Bethesda promises that it will give players a higher-quality experience that’s accessible on slower internet speeds, and it’s opening a limited beta test later this year.

Bethesda announced the news at the 2019 E3 show in Los Angeles, where cloud gaming hype is intense. Among other services, Google recently revealed the pricing and release date for its Stadia game streaming system, and Microsoft announced details about its xCloud platform earlier today.

Orion is…

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Fallout 76 is getting a massive update with NPCs and battle royale


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The massively multiplayer Fallout 76 is getting a big new update, and it includes non-player characters with their own questlines for players to engage with. The “Wastelanders” update is coming this fall for free to Fallout 76 owners with a limited preview later this week. It’s described as the game’s first major expansion since its launch last year, adding new weapons, a new main quest, and a 52-player battle royale mode.

“Wastelanders” could make Fallout 76 feel more like older installments of the series. The game notably launched without human NPCs, but now, players will find other survivors with “full dialog trees” and — it’s implied — the kind of moral choices people are used to making in Fallout games. Meanwhile, “Nuclear Winter”…

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A new Microsoft Flight Simulator is on the way


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Microsoft has announced a new installment of its long-running Microsoft Flight Simulator series. The new Flight Simulator, which was teased briefly at Microsoft’s E3 keynote, is powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud artificial intelligence. There’s not a lot of detail beyond that — except that the trailer, captured in 4K video, looks gorgeous.

The hyper-detailed Microsoft Flight Simulator series has been running since the 1980s. Its last installment was the 2014 Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition, a continuation of the 2006 Flight Simulator X. The series has generally been PC-only, and although this installment is part of the Xbox Game Pass program (which is also available on PC), Microsoft still refers to it as “Microsoft Flight…

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Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too is Black Mirror’s stab at a feel-good teen comedy


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The fifth season of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, a Twilight Zone-esque anthology TV series about technological anxieties and possible futures, was released on Netflix on June 5th, 2019. We’re looking at each of the season’s three episodes to see what they have to say about current culture and projected fears.

Spoiler warning: This essay does not give away the ending of “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too,” but it does reveal some major plot twists.

Black Mirror has a frustrating tendency to treat characters as mindless dupes seduced by blatantly creepy technology. The season 5 episode “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” seems like a perfect antidote. It’s an uncharacteristically upbeat story about subverting sinister tech toward good ends and…

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Five ways Google could be vulnerable to a Justice Department probe


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On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported that investigators from the Department of Justice will examine “Google’s business practices related to its search and other businesses.” It’s one of the biggest threats Google has ever faced from US regulators, but so far, we don’t know much about the case itself. The Journal’s description was open-ended, and the nature of Google’s business makes it vulnerable to antitrust challenges from a number of different directions. Google dominates the search market, but it also holds nearly 40 percent of the digital advertising market, and Android is the world’s most popular operating system. In all of these markets, critics have claimed that Google is simply too big, and it’s faced billion-dollar…

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Netflix’s I Am Mother is a slow, tense movie about how we love and fear AI


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Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our brief breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special event releases. This review comes from the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. It has been updated and revised in conjunction with the film’s release on Netflix.

When a fictional AI “goes rogue,” that often really means that it’s working exactly as intended. Tell a machine to make paperclips, and it will turn the entire world into little twists of metal. Ask it to save the planet, and it will decide that people are Earth’s greatest threat. We dream of creating machines that are smarter, more ethical, and more logical than ourselves. Then we fear where that logic will take them.

I Am Mother, the debut film from Australian director Grant…

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