A new copyright proposal would protect designers online — but at what cost?

PROTECTING INNOCENCE IN A DIGITAL WORLDPhoto by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call

For years, independent artists working online have struggled with designs being stolen, often by much larger companies. Given the expense and intricacy of a federal copyright lawsuit, those artists have had no good options for fighting back, even as infringing products pile up on seller platforms like Amazon.

Now, Congress is trying to fix the problem. A new bill currently moving through the Senate would equip the Copyright Office to go after those infringing products, letting original artists push back without filing suit in federal court. But the proposal has alarmed copyright critics, who worry the bill would unleash a flood of small copyright claims that would ultimately harm the same artists it’s trying to protect.

The Copyright…

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Author: Makena Kelly

Overwatch’s New Hero, Sigma, Abilities And Ultimate Detailed; Live Today On PTR

Overwatch‘s next playable character, Siebren de Kuiper aka Sigma, has been slowly teased throughout the weekend, and now his arrival is imminent. Blizzard released full details on his power set, and he’ll be live on the Public Test Region (PTR) starting at 11 AM PT / 2 PM ET / 7 PM BST.

As shown in the story trailer yesterday, Sigma is an ambitious scientist who was severely damaged in an experiment. He gained the ability to manipulate gravity, but his mind was unstable and so he was locked away. Talon subsequently broke him loose and used him as a weapon. The scientist from the Netherlands is also one of the older characters on the Overwatch roster, at 62.

Sigma is a Tank character–very important to note given the new Role Queue. His basic abilities include Hyper Spheres which launch two charges that implode and damage an area, an Experimental Barrier that can be propelled to any location and then recalled, a Kinetic Grasp that converts incoming projectiles to shields, and Accretion which gathers debris and then throws it at an enemy. His Ultimate ability, Gravitic Flux, lifts nearby enemies into the air and then slams them back down onto the ground.

A livestream with Jeff Kaplan and Brandon “Seagull” Larned showed off Sigma in action just ahead of his release. For more details, check out his official bio page alongside the rest of the Overwatch cast.

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Author: Steve Watts

Hearthstone Devs Talk Powerful New Mogu Cultist Card And More

Hearthstone‘s upcoming Saviors of Uldum expansion is introducing cards with enormous new effects, like our own reveal of the Mogu Cultist card. The 1-Mana 1/1 minion appears very weak on its own, but if you can gather lots of them together they summon the mega-powerful Highkeeper Ra.

The result is a build-around card with a huge effect, but how do you even make it work? We talked with game designers Peter Whalen and Alec Dawson for their thoughts on how to pull off the Cultist combo, where the concept came from, and much more surrounding the Saviors of Uldum.

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“This is a card for the people who think, ‘I want to figure out how to make this crazy thing happen,’ so here’s this puzzle that’s actually pretty hard to solve,” Whalen said. “And if you do solve it, you get something truly amazing. There are players who really like that thing, so we try to make cards that appeal to them.”

The clearest way to solve the puzzle is to build a Rogue deck around copying your Mogu Cultists. The cards Togwaggle’s Scheme and Augmented Elekk can make several copies of the Cultist and put them into your deck, but that still requires you to stay alive long enough to draw all seven Cultists.

Whalen and Dawson pointed out that this could pair well with a card like the Rogue Legendary Tak Nozwhisker, which places copies of cards into your hand when you shuffle them into your deck. That could potentially give you seven copies of Mogu Cultist instantaneously, but it would require your hand to be almost empty when you pull off the combo. That would limit your survival options, making this a high-risk, high-reward strategy. If paired with a card like Baleful Banker, you could even play all seven Cultists and then add another Highkeeper Ra to your deck.

Other classes have less obvious paths to pulling off the Mogu Cultist requirements. Whalen points out that Priest could use Resurrect spells, or other classes could use neutral replicating cards like Faceless Manipulator. “It’s not easy,” he jokes, but you could pull it off.

The idea of having the player go through a lengthy ritual for a big reward was a design priority from the start, and it fits into the Indiana Jones-like flavor of the Uldum expansion as a whole.

“Highkeeper Ra is one of the [larger than life] stories we can tell here,” Dawson said. “Unobtainable and so powerful that you had to go through this whole process. … We wanted to create a ritual. It was actually in the [design] sheet pretty early, and it stuck around the entire time. It felt like you were playing a combo deck where you had something in mind the whole time.”

Whalen added that the idea is similar to another popular card, Rin the First Disciple. That Warlock Legendary card from the Kobolds & Catacombs set also had you go through a lengthy ritualistic process, ending in the huge effect of destroying your opponent’s entire deck. Highkeeper Ra actually began less overpowered, doing only 10 damage instead of 20, but the designers felt he needed a bigger impact to justify jumping through so many hoops.

The Saviors of Uldum expansion introduces or brings back a few other mechanics as well. A new Reborn keyword brings minions back to life with one health after death. We’ve seen very limited Reborn minions so far, and so far they’ve been in the small- to mid-range, but Whalen assures that the keyword will go on some big minions as well. Some new area-of-effect spells, like the new powerful Plague spells, were built to counter the new keyword.

The expansion will also bring back Quests, a mechanic that hasn’t been in Hearthstone since Journey to Un’Goro. Whereas old Quests gave you a card that could be played for a powerful effect, the new Quests will automatically trigger a new Hero Power upon completion. This isn’t necessarily the roadmap for any Quests going forward, but it does help Blizzard balance these new Quests. Some of the previous Quests had a “huge spike in power,” according to Dawson, so these new ones assure “there’s still going to be a game afterwards.”

Hearthstone’s Saviors of Uldum expansion launches on August 6. For more Hearthstone cards from the upcoming expansion, check out our full gallery of all the Saviors of Uldum cards revealed so far.

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Author: Steve Watts

GTA 5 Online’s Big Casino Update Now Live; Patch Notes Released

More than a month after it was officially announced, Grand Theft Auto V‘s new Diamond Casino & Resort is open for business. The long-awaited casino is now live in GTA Online on PS4, Xbox One, and PC as part of the game’s latest update, which also introduces a wealth of new clothing options, vehicles, bug fixes, and other tweaks to the online mode.

Located on the corner of Vinewood Park Drive and Mirror Park Boulevard, the Diamond Casino & Resort is a new facility where you and other players can enjoy the nightlife. The casino floor features all of the activities you’d expect to find in this type of establishment, including Three Card Poker, Blackjack, Roulette, and Slot Machines, with some enticing prizes at stake, including some new “high-end” vehicles.

Additionally, high rollers can purchase a penthouse at the Diamond Casino & Resort, which can then be customized to your liking with a media room, spa, garage space, and other options. Those who purchase a penthouse will also gain “VIP” access to certain areas of the casino as well as a new storyline involving the Diamond family. If you have a Twitch Prime account, you can score a penthouse for free if you link your accounts by the end of July 19. More details can be found on Rockstar’s blog.

Alongside the Diamond Casino & Resort, the latest GTA Online update adds seven new vehicles to the game: the Truffade Thrax, Obey 8F Drafter, Weeny Issi Sport, Vapid Caracara 4×4, Annis S80RR, Enus Paragon R, and the armored Enus Paragon R, which can be unlocked by completing the new casino story missions. Rockstar says more than 400 pieces of clothing and artwork for your penthouse will also be available through the casino store, and new collectible playing cards can be found hidden across Los Santos. There are 54 in total, and each one you collect will reward you with RP and Chip bonuses.

Rounding out the update is a litany of bug fixes and stability improvements. You can see a portion of the patch notes, courtesy of Rockstar, below. For more details on the Diamond Casino & Resort update, check out Rockstar’s new blog post.

GTA Online Diamond Casino & Resort (Title Update 1.47) Patch Notes

New Content – PS4, Xbox One, PC

  • The Diamond Casino & Resort has been added to GTA Online. The Diamond Casino & Resort is a shared location for players to enjoy together. The Casino offers a wide range of activities and provides multiple Guest Services for players to use.
  • The Casino Penthouse has been added to GTA Online. Players can purchase a Casino Penthouse from The Diamond Casino & Resort website and can be customized with a choice of optional extras such as a media room, a spa, a private dealer, garage space, and much more. The Penthouse also provides owners with a VIP membership that gives access features including with new Casino Story Missions, Freemode Missions, and two new arcade games.
  • Hidden Playing Card Collectibles have been added to GTA Online. Players can find these Hidden Playing Card Collectibles scattered around Los Santos and collect them for a reward. Collectibles progress can be tracked by using the new ‘Collectibles’ option in Interaction Menu.
  • Seven new vehicles have been added to GTA Online:
    • Truffade Thrax
    • Obey 8F Drafter
    • Weeny Issi Sport
    • Vapid Caracara 4×4
    • Annis S80RR
    • Enus Paragon R
    • Enus Paragon R (Armoured)
  • Over 400+ items of clothing and artwork for the Penthouse will be made for sale for Male and Female characters in the Casino Store that rotates items weekly
  • New Races have been added to GTA Online
  • Six new player actions have been added to GTA Online:
    • Cut Throat
    • Cry Baby
    • Stinker
    • Shadow Boxing
    • Karate Chops
    • The Woogie
  • New Daily Objectives have been added to GTA Online
  • Eleven new Awards have been added to GTA Online

New Features & Updates – PS4, Xbox One, PC

  • Updates have been made to the ‘Passive Mode’ option in GTA Online:
    • Passive Mode can now no longer be active when using a weaponized vehicle
    • A Passive Mode cooldown of 2 minutes is now in place for players who have just killed another player
    • Players now must wait 5 minutes before they can activate Passive Mode again after disabling it
    • Players now must wait 30 seconds before they can disable Passive Mode after activating it
  • Updates have been made to the ‘Go Ghosted’ option in GTA Online:
    • The ‘Go Ghosted’ option is now available to players after 2 deaths instead of 3
    • The length of time players remain ghosted to each other has been increased from 2 minutes to 5 minutes
    • The window of time for consecutive kills to count has been increased from 5 minutes to 10 minutes
  • Updates have been made to Daily Objectives in GTA Online:
    • A number of PVP related Daily Objectives have been removed
    • The first Daily Objective in the list will now be the same for all players each day
    • The cash reward for completing the Daily, Weekly, and Monthly streaks has been increased
  • A new ‘Services’ option has been added to the Interaction Menu that allows players to view and change options for all large vehicle properties such as:
    • The Terrorbyte
    • The Avenger
    • The Mobile Operations Center
    • The Galaxy Super Yacht
  • Updates have been made to Series in GTA Online:
    • ‘Featured Adversary Mode’ has been renamed to ‘Featured Series’
    • Target Assault Series has been removed
    • Each Series type now only has one trigger on the map
    • Several help text entries regarding existing Series have been removed
    • Updates have been made to Series help text appearance rates
  • Player Elevation Indicators are now present in all Instanced Content such as Adversary Modes, Heists, etc.
  • Time Trials now pay out $100,000 upon successful completion
  • The Stone Hatchet has been added to Creators
  • The Declassee Impaler is now purchasable on the arenawar.tv website
  • Arena Traps have been added to the Arena Creator
  • The Race type of Arena War Races are now forced into being a ‘GTA Race’
  • Players can now use the laptop in their Arena Workshop to see all of the Sponsorship Tier unlocks they have been awarded The Nightclub popularity gained for completing a Nightclub Management Mission has been increased from 10% to 25%

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Author: Kevin Knezevic

Uber is testing an all-in-one subscription for rides, food delivery, bikes, and scooters

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Uber is dabbling in an Amazon Prime-style monthly subscription service that rolls together all of its major services: ride-hailing, Uber Eats food delivery, and bike and scooter rentals. For now, the company is testing different iterations in Chicago and San Francisco, but it could start rolling out to other markets soon.

The all-in-one pass is available for $24.99 a month. For that price, customers get price protection or a fixed discount on every ride-hail trip, free delivery on Uber Eats, and free rides on Uber’s Jump bikes and scooters. Uber is also testing lower-priced passes in a handful of other cities that include rides and Eats benefits, such as discounted rides and free delivery on orders over a certain amount.

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Author: Andrew J. Hawkins

One Of Last Year’s Best PC Games Is Coming To PS4, Xbox One, And Switch

Sega has announced it is bringing one of its best PC games of 2018 to consoles. Two Point Hospital, the spiritual successor to Theme Hospital, is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in “late 2019.”

The game will come to those platforms both physically and digitally, and the new versions will include all the updates and new features the PC edition received after launch. That also means the game’s two expansions, Bigfoot and Pebberley Island, will be packed in. Pricing has not been announced.

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Our critic, James Swinbanks, enjoyed the management sim and awarded it an 8/10 in GameSpot’s Two Point Hospital review. “It’s remarkable that it’s taken so long for a spiritual successor to Theme Hospital to show up, but now that it’s here, it feels like it’s been well worth the wait,” he wrote.

“The exaggerated, cartoon look and relaxed approach to management make it inviting enough for most players, while the deeper aspects of its economy are enough to keep seasoned players engaged. Two Point Hospital not only re-works an old formula into something modern and enjoyable, it also iterates on the classic brand of irresistible charm and wit, making something that’s truly wonderful.”

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Author: Oscar Dayus