Carly Rae Jepsen's E•MO•TION is perfect, narrative-free pop music

By the end of 2012, it was accepted as a historical fact that Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was objectively the song of 2012. It was one of the few moments in pop music where even would-be detractors and snobs had to shrug and concede its superiority. Everyone loved that song. Everyone sang along to that song. What’s more, there was something about that song’s success that felt unquestionably earned — no matter the Justin Bieber-abetted machinations to place it in the center of the pop cultural dinner table, most people could hear “Call Me Maybe” and feel that the people involved in its creation were good at their jobs. Whatever work had gone into writing that exuberant, endlessly repeatable chorus had paid off; Carly Rae was a…

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Author: Emily Yoshida

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New Smite Patch Introduces a Training Map, Weakens Its Newest Character

Smite today received its latest patch in the form of the Celestial Wedding update. Along with some new skins and voice packs (which represent the wedding aspect of things) and the usual balancing adjustments, Hi-Rez Studios has introduced a new training map to ease players into the game.

The studio describes this new map as “the first step towards improving our new player experience within Smite.” Like with other MOBAs, the learning curve can be steep in Smite, and its existing features for teaching newcomers the ropes have been lacking. The training map offers a series of single-player matches comprised of modes that you could already access independently: Joust, an Arena tutorial, and a practice Arena. Joust is Smite’s 3-on-3 mode, while Arena is essentially team deathmatch where you also attempt to escort computer-controlled minions into the enemy’s base.

Those who complete these matches will earn bonus experience and favor (one of the two in-game currencies). The specific selection of matches included in the training map could change in the future as Hi-Rez “continue[s] to tweak and improve the new player experience.”

Another of the game’s practice modes, Jungle practice, has been updated. In addition to visual changes, players can now reset their abilities, buy and sell items from anywhere on the map (instead of just at the spawn area), and test out attacks on invincible Odin target dummies.

As far as character changes, this patch primarily fixes various issues. The one exception is with Khepri, the most recent addition to the game. Hi-Rez has found him to be too powerful but want to be careful in adjusting him. “He is a character that focuses on protecting allies, but was slightly too potent as well as had other strengths,” the patch notes state. “We chose to reduce some of his ability to protect, while focusing more on lowering some of his durability and damage.”

One other change of note is to the refer-a-friend rewards. Bonuses for playing with someone you’ve referred to the game will now be earned sooner–you’ll get 200 gems after 15 hours (rather than 20), and another 200 after 20 hours (rather than 30). Additionally, the Triumph & Agni skin will be handed out after playing together for 10 hours (down from 30).

You can check out the full patch notes on Smite’s website. Assuming the usual time table is followed, Xbox One players can expect this patch out sometime in September. With that version of the game about to officially launch tomorrow, last month’s update adding Khepri should be out soon.

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Author: Chris Pereira

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What song best describes the apocalypse that will kill you?

Welcome to the second annual Verge Hack Week. We’re totally blowing up our site: we’ve given our reporters and editors the entire week to play with new tools and experiment with new storytelling ideas, while members of our amazing product team have gathered in New York to help build all sorts of interesting new things. Learn more.

The end of the world has been predicted many different times in many different ways by many different people. A lot of these people are musicians. Rob Zombie offered “The Beginning of the End,” Bright Eyes got lower than usual with “No One Would Riot for Less,” and The Cure got literal with “End of the World.” Even ‘N SYNC’s “Digital Get Down” was a sexual apocalypse of sorts.

The list could probably go…

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Author: Lizzie Plaugic

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Halo 5 Won't Have Big Team Battle Mode at Launch

Halo 5: Guardians will not have a Big Team Battle (BTB) mode at launch in October. But that doesn’t mean Halo fans won’t be able to get their large-scale multiplayer fix right out of the gate.

Responding to a fan’s concerns about Halo 5 not having a BTB mode, 343 Industries executive producer Josh Holmes reminded fans about the game’s Warzone gametype. This 12v12 mode, announced at E3, features the biggest maps in Halo franchise history. In fact, the maps are four times the size of any previous map.

“Warzone is the evolution of BTB, on steroids,” Holmes said.

If Warzone doesn’t suit your fancy–after all, it does change things up in a number of significant ways–Holmes also said that 343 Industries plans to add a “more traditional BTB mode post-launch.”

He did not provide a timetable for when the BTB mode would be released. It’s also worth noting that 343 has not yet announced the lineup of playlists for Halo 5.

In other recent Halo 5 news, 343 has responded to criticisms about the game not having a split-screen mode for its campaign or multiplayer. “If we could do it, we would do it. But it is what they call ‘nontrivial,'” Halo franchise development director Frank O’Connor said.

Halo 5 will launch with 20+ maps, with 15+ more maps coming to the game as free DLC before June 2016.

The Halo 5 release date is set for October 27 exclusively for Xbox One.

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Author: Eddie Makuch

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Microsoft's Windows 10 testing resumes with a new preview release

Microsoft may have released the final version of Windows 10 last month, but the company is pressing ahead with updates to the operating system. Windows Insiders, testers of Windows, can now access a new preview build of Windows 10 with some minor changes to provide feedback on. Microsoft says it has received a lot of feedback over the color options for Windows 10, and the company is testing a new default color with this new 10525 build of the OS.

Microsoft is also testing out memory improvements to Windows 10 that allow reduce the amount of memory used per process, allowing Windows 10 to keep more applications in physical memory at a time. That should mean less modern apps having to resume after you haven’t used them in the future.

W…

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Author: Tom Warren

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What you need to know about cyber sex and the future of sex tech

My earliest memories of the internet are set in AOL chat rooms.

I spent the summer of 1998 in chats about video games, the James Bond series, major league baseball, and whatever else interested my 10-year-old mind. Every conversation was different, but each began the same way. I would say, “Hello.” And a strange somewhere across the world would respond, “a/s/l/?”

Age. Sex. Location.

“I am 13,” I’d explain, “Male, and from Missouri.” If the stranger was my age, or claimed to be, the conversation would continue. If they were older, they’d disappear keenly aware that being seen in a chat room with a child wasn’t a good look. As an adult, I’m aware that while I was in AOL chats to talk about pop culture, a large chunk of the folks were…

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Author: Chris Plante

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