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    Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming looks worse on Linux than Windows / ArsTechnica · Yesterday - 19:47

Microsoft's xCloud game streaming appears to dip to a lower visual quality setting when running on Linux. The apparent downgrade across operating systems was noted by a Reddit user over the holiday weekend and confirmed in Ars' own testing this morning.

To compare how xCloud handles a Linux machine vs. a Windows machine, an Edge extension was used during testing to force the browser's User-Agent string to present itself as a Linux browser:

  • Windows User-Agent tested: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/103.0.5060.66 Safari/537.36 Edg/103.0.1264.44
  • Linux User-Agent tested: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/102.0.5005.27 Safari/537.36 Edg/102.0.1245.7

Tests were conducted on the latest version of Microsoft Edge (Version 103.0.1264.44, 64-bit) running on a Windows 10 PC. All tests were run on a wired Internet connection registering download speeds of 120 Mbps and ~9 ms latency, according to spot tests at .

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    Excerpt: How the designers of GoldenEye 007 made use of “Anti-Game Design” / ArsTechnica · Yesterday - 19:31 · 1 minute

In this excerpt from her upcoming book , writer and historian Alyse Knorr talks about some of the design decisions that made Goldeneye 007 stand out from other '90s first-person shooters, and why that design endures to this day. The book is currently looking for backers on Kickstarter .

When [game designer David] Doak first joined the team at the end of 1995, GoldenEye ’s levels were just barebones architecture—no objectives, enemies, or plot. After designing the watch menu, he and [game designer Duncan] Botwood started creating a single-player campaign that followed and expanded upon GoldenEye the movie’s narrative—a difficult task, considering the fact that the film’s dialogue about Lienz Cossack traitors and Kyrgyz missile tests went over the heads of quite a few 12-year-olds. Doak and Botwood’s job was to tell this complicated story using rudimentary pre- and post-mission cutscenes, pre-mission briefing paperwork, in-game conversations with NPCs, and mission objectives, which proved the most powerful way to allow players to experience the story themselves.

The biggest inspiration for GoldenEye ’s objective design was not another first-person shooter but rather Super Mario 64 . “I studiously tried to learn what Nintendo was,” [game designer Martin] Hollis said in 2015 of his years at Rare. “I played Link to the Past from beginning to end—I got all the hearts and all but two of the quarter hearts. I could write a thousand pages about that game. Then [an early version of] Mario 64 came out during the development of GoldenEye, and we were clearly influenced by that game. Ours was much more open as a result.” Hollis took from Super Mario 64 the idea of including multiple mission objectives within one level. For instance, in the Control level, the player must protect Natalya, disable the GoldenEye satellite, and destroy some armored mainframes.

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    Clerks III trailer: Jersey nerd trilogy goes meta in 2-night theater run / ArsTechnica · Yesterday - 18:30 · 1 minute

The new film <em>Clerks III</em> appears to be a joint production.

Enlarge / The new film Clerks III appears to be a joint production. (credit: Lionsgate)

After years of development, the snootchiest of '90s bootchies will finally return to theaters this September. Writer and director Kevin Smith unveiled the first look at Clerks III on Wednesday via a two-minute trailer, though you'll have to look at some fine print to figure out exactly when and where you might get to watch this feature-length film.

The core cast featured in 2006's Clerks II returns to modern-day New Jersey, once again relegated to a building that houses both a convenience store and a video rental shop. The latter has adapted to a modern video-streaming world, at least, with a massive "THC" indicator poorly taped over the original sign—and longtime series jesters Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) seem fine hanging out in front of this adjusted storefront for some reason. But time hasn't been kind to Randal (Jeff Anderson), as the trailer shows him suffering a heart attack and questioning a life spent watching movies all day.

“What am I, a hack?”

"I always thought you could've made a cool movie," his longtime pal Dante (Brian O'Halloran) points out in an emergency room. The duo then spends the rest of the trailer trying to produce a film inside of the adjacent shops they work at, apparently assisted by a new-to-the-series pair of goths. These two new youngsters ask what the movie's about, only to be told, "It's about him working here." One goth replies flatly, "Meta."

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    How Zelda fans changed the ending to Ocarina of Time on a vanilla N64 / ArsTechnica · 2 days ago - 21:05 · 1 minute

This... isn't supposed to happen in <em>Ocarina of Time</em>. Here's the story of how some fans made it happen anyway—all on a stock N64 with an unmodified <em>Ocarina</em> cartridge.

Enlarge / This... isn't supposed to happen in Ocarina of Time . Here's the story of how some fans made it happen anyway—all on a stock N64 with an unmodified Ocarina cartridge. (credit: Summer Games Done Quick)

Shortly after our guide to Summer Games Done Quick 2022 went live, the event hosted an astounding demonstration of a classic video game—one that has since crowded that Ars article's replies. If we want to split hairs, this run through the 1998 N64 classic Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is not a "speedrun," but it's another example of the " TASBot " concept transforming games in ways we would never have dreamed of 24 years ago.

The team of fans and programmers responsible for this week's "Triforce-percent" demonstration have since revealed how they achieved the feat with nothing more than a stock N64 and an original Ocarina retail cartridge—though the secret involves controller inputs so fast and precise that they cannot be performed by anything less than a computer.

Nothing stale about this run

An early 2020 video that explains how stale reference manipulation works. You may want to watch this before watching the SGDQ 2022 video, embedded further below.

The 53-minute demonstration (embedded at the end of this article) opens with an exploit previously unearthed in late 2019, which the community dubbed " Stale Reference Manipulation ." This exploit takes advantage of a vulnerability in the game's original 1.0 version, which allowed players to manipulate numerical values assigned to specific objects in the game's memory. The breeziest explanation for this complicated technique can be found in a YouTube video from early 2020 (embedded above), as it spells out the various numerical values assigned to each object in the game, such as their X-, Y-, and Z-axes and their rotation.

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    Diablo Immortal is bringing in over $1 million a day in microtransactions / ArsTechnica · 2 days ago - 19:06

Use cash to buy orbs.

Use cash to buy orbs.

Despite backlash from some players , Diablo Immortal 's free-to-play, microtransaction-laden game design seems to be working out just fine for Blizzard's bottom line. Using data from mobile analysis firm Appmagic , estimates that the iOS and Android versions of the game brought in $49 million in earnings from just over 10 million mobile downloads in the versions' first 30 days of availability.

Those estimates, which are based on public charts provided by the mobile platforms , don't include the PC version of the game and, thus, may actually be underselling the scale of its financial success. With PC players included, Blizzard announced that Diablo Immortal hit 10 million installs after just over a week , well ahead of the mobile download pace estimated by Appmagic.

By way of comparison, Diablo III took nearly six months to sell 10 million copies after its troubled launch back in 2012. But that game sold for a $60 MSRP, making it hard to compare directly to a free-to-play game that has so far brought in an estimated average of less than $5 in earnings per download, according to Appmagic.

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    The best game-exploiting speedruns of Summer Games Done Quick 2022 / ArsTechnica · 6 days ago - 18:35 · 1 minute

All four of the mascots seen in this SGDQ promo image appear in various speedruns hosted over the past week.

Enlarge / All four of the mascots seen in this SGDQ promo image appear in various speedruns hosted over the past week. (credit: Summer Games Done Quick)

The Games Done Quick series of charity events has long been a favorite among the gaming fans and critics at Ars Technica since it combines classic, beloved video games and carefully studied methods to break them apart in search of high-speed exploits.

This year's summertime installment is particularly special, as it's the first in 2.5 years to take place at a physical venue—albeit with some of the most stringent masking and distancing requirements we've seen in a livestreamed public show in 2022. (GDQ's organizers appear to read the news , which makes sense for a series that benefits the likes of Doctors Without Borders .) Even with precautions taken, its combination of players, commentators, and crowds in the same room has brought excitement back to its broadcasts, which is why we're pulling together some of the best runs from the past week, as archived at GDQ's official YouTube channel .

The event is still ongoing as of this article's publication, which means you can watch it right now via its Twitch channel . The event's final runs, dedicated to Elden Ring , will conclude in the late hours on Saturday, July 2.

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    Cuphead expansion pack review: As good as DLC gets / ArsTechnica · 7 days ago - 14:24 · 1 minute

In the new expansion pack <em>The Delicious Last Course</em>, Miss Chalice makes three.

Enlarge / In the new expansion pack The Delicious Last Course , Miss Chalice makes three. (credit: Studio MDHR)

Some people will look at an expansion pack like Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course and make up their minds after a single glance. This $8 add-on's beautiful brutality follows the same path as the original 2017 game Cuphead , a notoriously tough descendant of the Mega Man school of game design. Maybe you love playing games that are as beautiful as they are difficult. Maybe you don't.

I'm here to talk about Last Course because I might be a lot like you. I'm not Last Course 's target audience. I never beat the original Cuphead . I have contended that a tough game like this is easier for me to watch than it is to play. But when I saw the expansion's hands-on demo at this month's Summer Game Fest Play Days , I shrugged my shoulders, grabbed a gamepad, and gave it a shot. Might as well occupy myself between other scheduled game demos , I thought.

And then I fell in love. For whatever reason, the demo I played, and my subsequent completion of Last Course 's "normal" difficulty content, grabbed me and wouldn't let go—which is why I'm compelled to recommend picking it up.

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    Thanks to fans, the weirdest official Doom game is now playable on Windows / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 29 June - 20:59 · 1 minute

A seemingly lost turn-based version of <em>Doom RPG</em> is now fully playable on modern Windows PCs, thanks to efforts from the <em>Doom</em> reverse-engineering community.

Enlarge / A seemingly lost turn-based version of Doom RPG is now fully playable on modern Windows PCs, thanks to efforts from the Doom reverse-engineering community. (credit: id Software)

The creators of the Doom series have presented plenty of official and unofficial historical retrospectives, but these often leave out the weirdest official Doom game ever made: Doom RPG .

Even id Software's official "Year of Doom" museum at E3 2019 left this 2005 game unchronicled. That's a shame, because it was a phenomenal example of id once again proving itself a master of technically impressive gaming on a power-limited platform. And platforms don't get more limited on a power or compatibility basis than the pre-iPhone wave of candy bar handsets, which Doom RPG has been locked to since its original mid-'00s launch. You may think that "turn-based Doom " sounds weird, but Doom RPG stood out as a clever and fun series twist to the first-person shooter formula.

Its abandonment to ancient phones changes today thanks to the reverse-engineering efforts of , a Costa Rica-based collective of at least three developers. On Wednesday, the group released a Windows port of the game based on their work on the original game's BREW version (a Qualcomm-developed API meant for its wave of mobile phones from 2001 and beyond).

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