What happened with TellTale Games

The gaming company TellTale started up in October of 2004, and nearly 14 years later, they shut down. But why? Were they not making good sales? Were they in the middle of a huge controversy? Did the employees stop caring? Well, here’s where you find out.

TellTale started off small, and it wasn’t until a crisp April day in 2012 that TellTale truly got its start with their game, The Walking Dead. The first season of their game boasted five episodes, and by November it was all complete. It received huge praise, winning over eighty awards. It topped the sales chart for Xbox, and when I say pretty much everyone played it, I mean it.

The Walking Dead started an era. An era of choice-driven games. In TellTale’s series, you, the player, can choose what to say and how to act. You are in charge of your relationships with others, who dies, who lives, and how well your group survives.

But is that true? TellTale tells the player in the beginning “Your choices matter,” but is that a lie? Sadly, pretty much. Sure, you have choices, you can make someone hate you, and you can even sacrifice someone to save another. But it doesn’t matter.

In the game you have to choose between two people to save. Doug and Carly. You would think that whoever you save would change the game. That these two characters will start a new storyline, and the game will change depending on who lives, and who dies. But no matter you save, they die soon later anyway, leaving the game unchanged. It creates an illusion of choice.

Sure, if TellTale’s games were only one of a few choice-based games then maybe nobody would have minded. The problem is that The Walking Dead became so popular that game companies realized they could make massive profit from those types of games. And why play a game that tricks you into believing that your choices matter when you can play a game where they actually do matter?

A good comparison is between TellTale’s The Walking Dead, and Quantic Dream‘s Detroit: Become Human. In the latter game, you can see a map at the end of every episode or section you play. You can see what choices you made, and the different branches of choices that you didn’t. There are tons of endings and small details that differ depending on what you, the player, chose.

So really, TellTale started an era in the gaming world, but it was their eventual downfall. The games being created to capitalize on the popularity of that genre were better than the one that started it all.

But I’m sure you’re thinking “That can’t be the only reason! Just because their games didn’t have real choices!” And you’re right. So let’s look at the next reason why TellTale couldn’t keep afloat.

Employees were generally unhappy. Many worked long hours, and the management was toxic. There was barely any organization. Nobody really kept track of what was going on. The management stopped interacting with their staff, and that meant less morale.

As TellTale got more popular, the more they made games. Soon they started working on multiple games at once. Instead of choosing developers to stick to one game, they rotated developers. This made the creation process to be more sloppy, and many workers didn’t understand this decision.

There wasn’t even any proper schedule. Rewrites and improvoments of the game were asked very last minute. Employees say that it was a constant barrage of work with no break, six day work weeks, with about 18 hours for each of those days. New developers couldn’t handle it, and the older ones were not putting in all their effort.

Eventually, TellTale couldn’t handle the stress. It collapsed under its own foundation.

Over 200 workers were laid off without severance, many took to Twitter to say not to work extreme overtime for a company that, in the end, will not care about you.

Many other game companies told these employees that they could always come and work them. At least there’s a silver lining to the storm clouds.

It is unknown if TellTale will continue the final season of The Walking Dead. The episodes are set to release in November and December, and their MineCraft Netflix series will be finished.

 

Why is social media addictive?

By: Mateo Barrera

In recent years, social media has become increasingly more popular, with almost everyone having access to an electronic device. Because of almost everyone having an electronic, it’s really easy to get social media apps such as Instagram and Facebook because they are free.

Social media is an access point for people to get recognition from people that they know and people that they haven’t even met. But not only that, it also gives people opportunities to share their opinions to other people. Due to this, people have created a sort of addictive habit to go onto social media constantly to check others’ posts and their own.

 According to an article on The Huffington Post, the psychological reasoning behind the addiction is because  “Social media engagement has been found to trigger three key networks in the brain – the ‘mentalizing network’, the ‘the self-referential cognition network’ and the ‘reward network.’”

The use of the mentalizing network is important because one of the sections of your brain that is being used in the mentalizing network, the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, is used to basically help us judge how people are, through looking at them, and “has been the reason we exist today.” So, the use of this section of your brain is super important.

The self referencing section of your brain is used because on social media a lot of the time you are talking about yourself, so it is clear to see why it is used.

The reward network of your brain is triggered during the use of social media because the people who post on the platforms get a sense of reward from their friends and other people liking the things that they have posted. This feeling is a lot stronger when you are a teenager because one of the sections of your brain connected with the reward system, the nucleus accumbens area, is connected to “exaggerated” feelings of pain and pleasure. And this is why it is a lot more common for teenagers to use social media than adults, or at least feel more feelings towards the things that they post.

 

God of War review

God of War’s concept and game play is based on the hack and slash gaming genre; players control Kratos, and kill enemies throughout the journey in many different and gruesome ways. The amount of action and detail that the developers include allow fans to feel immersed in the game. The dynamic camera angles and cinematic scenes within the game, are created to let the fans feel emotional towards the story of the game and the characters.

Image taken from: https://godofwar.playstation.com/

The intense, and vast amount of details, in the graphics of the game, and the cinematic scenes were amazing. Fans were able to clearly see and tell what was going on with the story and the events that were occurring. The way the camera allows you to see every scene and detail perfectly, and the character emotions, lets the gamer relate more during their time playing the game.

Image taken from: http://variety.com/2018/gaming/news/god-of-war-steelcase-translation-1202780501/

Published by Sony, and created by Ready at Dawn, the new creation of the God of War game transformed how fans perceived the previous games. For starers the camera view is locked as a third-person view instead of a free, changing camera during the gaming portion while the cinematic scenes are always changing to put more intense and excessive feeling in the scene.

Image taken from: http://www.playstationlifestyle.net/2018/03/07/ready-at-dawn-next-game-is-a-third-person-action-game/

The story and plot they created for the God of War game was different than before but allowed fans to feel nostalgic towards the past installments.

After a time passes, and the events of God of War 3 pass, Kratos finds himself in a place called Midgard and creates a family. Soon after, Kratos and his son, Atreus takes the ashes of his wife to the highest mountain throughout the realms. This is the start of their journey that takes place in Norse mythology, and while on their journey they encounter enemies, creatures, and monsters that cross their path.

Many fans bought God of War because they had played the previous installments and hoped to continue the lore of God of War and the story of Kratos. Some fans never got to play the previous God of War installments, and buying the newest one would allow them to get a feel for the story. Others bought it for the interest of God of War, the genre that the game is made for, or the innovation of graphics, gameplay, and story.

The only drawback of the game is that it is PlayStation exclusive, so owners of the Xbox franchise do not have access to God of War.

Self driving cars

As soon as cars were being mass produced it didn’t take long for inventors to try and make automated cars. In 1925 Francis Houdina first introduced a radio controlled car. The car could start its engines, honk its horn, and shift gears. Fast forward to 2009; Google starts developing its self driving car project called Waymo. By the end of 2017 they drove 2,000,000 miles with their computer controlled self driving cars.

By 2020 Nissan announced that they will come out with a few self driving cars.

In 2016, the first self driving car death happened, in Florida, when a man had his Tesla in autopilot mode. The man was killed after he was hit by an 18-wheeler.

Earlier this year, a woman was killed by an Uber self driving car while she was walking across the street, and Uber temporarily stopped self driving cars on the road.

There are self driving cars being tested right now on the streets of San Francisco, Phoenix, and Pittsburgh.

There are a few questions people who aren’t ready for self driving cars are asking. Like, who will be liable for any car crashes and tickets that the car gets because nobody is driving? Also, a big question is: where will all of the funding come from? Changing all the cars we have now or making more self driving cars, and altering the roads so it will be safer for self driving cars, will cost millions.

When people were asked about if they would trust a self driving car to drive they were split 50/50. Some argue that we aren’t ready for self driving cars and the car’s technology needs to advance before we make it widespread on the roads. Others argue that most car crashes are the result of human error so it would be the next logical step to eliminate humans and let the technology to take control.

For more information, please visit:

http://www.documentarytube.com/articles/self-driving-cars-when-we-will-have-them
https://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/history-of-self-driving-cars-milestones/

 

Pros and cons of social media

Everyone knows how efficient social media can be for contacting friends and family, and learning of news of all kinds. It has been momentous for creating a platform for awareness of political and social issues. Social media is also helpful for building business relationships and connecting with customers. However, social media has unfortunately become a viable platform for cyberbullying, which has increased vastly over the past decade.

Mental health issues, and lapses in focus, that come from the overuse of social media, are unknown to quite a great extent. The majority of the problem is seen in teens. With the overuse of social media comes a constant need to be on social media, and with that, a toll on one’s psychological well-being can be a side effect. Extreme, heavy use of social media has even be linked with suicidal thoughts. It may be the fact that these teens are having these thoughts because of the cyberbullying and disgusting things read on Twitter, Facebook, etc. According to Dr. Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga of the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, “It could be that teens with mental health problems are seeking out interactions as they are feeling isolated and alone.”

More and more studies are being conducted to prove a correlation with direct evidence and data supporting the claim that these mental health issues are a result of excessive use of social media. Dr. Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga states, “Or they would like to satisfy unmet needs for face-to-face mental health support.”

I myself know of kids that are dealing with depression, and I know two be heavy users of social media. I do think these kids, from my observation, do not have much going on in their lives, not many friends and not enough things to keep them busy, which is the main cause, but who knows. The extreme overuse of social media and constant need of attention from others through technology may feed their desperation even more so.

There would be no reason to rid humanity of social media because of all the good it does for our society, but there are definitely disadvantages that need to be paid attention to, and somehow fixed or toned down to a bearable level.

The usage of Bitcoin

Bitcoin, is a cryptocurrency created by Satoshi Nakamoto that uses no banking system for transactions, marketing, or currency. Bitcoin, enables payments to be sent between users without passing through authority, such as a bank, or payment gateway. Bitcoin can be bought by people, used as a trading/bargaining item, and can be used to buy items. Bitcoin was one of the first examples of cryptocurrencies.

Image taken from: https://wccftech.com/bulgarian_bitcoin_horde/

Bitcoin is used through the Internet and technology; it can also be transferred with a micro-chip. The micro-chip contains the Bitcoin, and it’s worth and can be traded physically. People use Bitcoin as a way to obtain money through the Internet and technology. People who own a Bitcoin can price the coin at any price, however they deem it. This is because of how Bitcoin gains interest or currency. People “mine,” and solve problems, to increase the Bitcoins price.

Bitcoin was made as an easier way to make money through technology, and asa way for people to make money using their skills and intelligence with technology. Anyone can use it, and people who are interested with the stock market, trade business, and other goods that can be affected by Bitcoin, such as purchasing stocks with Bitcoin, paying certain bills, items, etc. with Bitcoin use it for transactions.

Dangers of Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malicious software within computer technology, which is also known as malware. Ransomware is a type of malware virus that denies the owner, of a certain software, the access to their files within the software. In sense, if you had a laptop, and you had a Ransomware attack, you would not be able to log into the laptop or access files on it. Ransomware will ask for a payment, preferably in cryptocurrency, before you are allowed to access the software with a code, but most likely you will not be able to, and be asked to pay more.

This was how Ransomware was discovered, and how Ransomware affects peoples’ opinion on technology. It causes many organizations, companies, or businesses to change the technology they are using, or change their servers, networks, or computers entirely, which can cost up to a million dollars.

Their are many ways to be “attacked” by Ransomware. The most common delivery system is “Phishing Spam.” Messages and attachments that are sent to your email, disguising itself as a downloadable software that they need. Once the file has been downloaded, or opened, Ransomware can take over the computer and cause you to input private information, administrative access, etc.

Another form of Ransomware are specific programs that are created. These are more aggressive ways to hack into networks, and are disguised as ads, commercials, etc on the Internet. An example was “Petya.” Petya was a Ransomware application back in 2016 that mainly attacked the Ukraine, and used many different types of networks, software, etc., to forcibly hack into the systems of families, companies, industries, etc., and install Ransomware viruses.

Ransomware has been used as a way for “hackers” to steal money using cryptocurrency and the use of technology to deceive people into paying. Ransomware has caused many companies and businesses to lose nearly $1 million. Ransomware has slowly gained popularity throughout the 20th century because of the new advancements in technology which allowed hackers to easily access networks, servers, etc.

Image Taken from: https://www.computeroptions.net/report-ransomware-attacks-hit-nearly-30-percent-midmarket-organizations-2017/

As in the last passage, Petya is an encrypting Ransomware that infects targeted computers and locks out access to the computer until Bitcoin currency is paid. Petya had attacked Europe, and the U.S., back in 2016, targeting major companies, organizations and businesses. Petya used firm advertisements to infect computers and servers, and infected Microsoft Windows. These ads were similar to WPP ads, food companies, or other ads that would attract consumers, buyers, etc.

Another attack of Ransomware was the, “WannaCry” attack in 2017, where the virus attacked and encrypted Microsoft Window networks, systems and computers and hacked over 230,000 computers in 150 different countries. WannaCry was also able to attack and hack LG Electronics in Asia, and this caused them to shut down all of their networks, servers, and electronics to try and solve the virus. Honda was also affected, and companies nearby and server/networks inspections were enforced to try and get rid of WannaCry Ransomware.

So, ways to not be attacked include: stay away from websites that are not secure, and don’t click on ads. And if you do get hacked, hopefully, you have a hard drive with important files; turn off the computer(s) and try to find someone who can help get rid of the Ransomware. Have anti-malware applications on your computer that protect it from viruses, or firewalls, etc. If all else fails, the only other way is to hopefully be given the code(s) after paying the wanted payment(s).

Image taken from: http://www.zdnet.com/article/wannacry-ransomware-attack-at-lg-electronics-takes-systems-offline/

Whats the deal with these iPads?

IPads were introduced to Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) in 2015. It was a new way for students to be interactive with their work. The iPads bring education to life with hands-on work. Students have specific access to apps such as Dictionary, Calculator, Schoology, and Campus Portal. While some apps are allowed in SPPS, others aren’t. Although we were given an iPad, some restrictions applied. The App Store, Messages, FaceTime, and more, are not allowed. With this information, it had us thinking: Why aren’t students rewarded with the App Store if they are maintaining their grades?

With this question, we took the time to talk to Mr. Peterson. He is the iPad coordinator here at Highland. He takes care of all the Troubleshooting problems and has helpful hints with not only iPads but anything technology. We talked to Mr. Peterson to get as much information as we could on the iPad. Here are a few of the highlights:

Why don’t we have the App Store?

  • It is because not all apps are school appropriate. The district has a filter where they manage which apps we have access to.

Why do other schools have their App Store?

  • Private schools might be breaking the law about the iPads. They have different rules. It could also be they are managed differently. The way that we manage the apps means that we have to consider all ages in our choices about which apps in are in our self-service.
  • There are some apps they could have for specific ages, but also have to be aware of middle schoolers.
  • Self-service is the only service that does the job of maintaining, but it doesn’t do everything, it’s not able to give “age appropriate apps” (feature request).
  • Some apps are connected to some federal laws, and we get a federally mandated price for our Internet, so part of the fear is that we could lose our education radar for our Internet if we got caught giving apps that kids aren’t supposed to have. Strict guidelines.

With group projects, and people living far, why don’t you think they should have Skype and FaceTime, in your opinion?

  • I think the district should do whatever it can to get video conferencing enabled for students to use or Skype.
  • They have been reviewing Skype to make sure that it wouldn’t be too much on the system, so they have been running tests on them, and they haven’t been going well on there. They keep saying that they will (Enable Skype) but end up failing. It’s an ongoing project that they need to rush and enable the app.

While talking to Mr. Peterson, he mentioned CIPA, COPPA, and FERPA. The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) governs the filtering of Internet access, acceptable use, and digital citizenship education. The Children’s Online Privacy & Protection Act (COPPA) governs the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information collected from children under age 13. While the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student education records.

These three laws work hand and hand to ensure Internet safety across our district. The App Store was removed when the district learned they were violating CIPA, COPPA and FERPA laws. The solution is to shut down the App Store.

For more information about these laws, please visit: https://www.spps.org/cms/lib/MN01910242/Centricity/Domain/11270/OverviewofCIPACOPPAandFERPA12.2015.pdf

Overall, while many students don’t enjoy their iPads, it’s a helpful resource. These iPads, as Mr. Peterson puts it, are to help personalize learning and transform learning for each student.

There are complications when it comes to having a reward.

There are district laws that prevent us from having our the App Store on our iPads. While our App Store dreams are crushed, there is still the possibility of having Messages, FaceTime or Skype, all helpful tools for group projects.

As we continue to use the iPads, the District will continue to find the best way to operate and execute it properly.

Fornite’s popularity

Released in the middle of September, 2017, Fortnite, a battle royal video that was created by, Epic Games, was a major hit in the gaming community. In just 3 months, Fortnite was one of the most downloaded games of the year, and as of February, 2018, has reached over 40 million players world wide.

Not only is Fortnite free-to-play, it is also a battle royal, and at the time of Fortnite’s early access, the most played battle royal game was, Player’s Unknown Battlegrounds. Fortnite has gained popularity because of its free access to players, and how the gameplay of the game works.

Many times, Epic Games had to expand their technology towards Fortnite with the number of players worldwide. Epic Games would have game servers shut down from time to time because of the excessive number of players.

Epic Games, Producers and Publishers of Fortnite. Image taken from: https://socialhax.com/2016/08/22/epic-games-forums-user-data-hacked/

Fortnite is a genre of battle royal, where the player drops onto a generated map with nothing but a pickaxe. Once landed, the player’s objective is to find loot, such as weapons, health kits, shields, etc. and survive against 99 other players who also have the same objective; to be the last standing surviver.

Fortnite’s graphics are created to give the game a carton type vibe, and allow players to build using 3 resources: Wood, Stone and Metal. Players are allowed to build floors, stairs, ramps, walls, doorways, etc., using this mechanic. This allows players to better survive against others in combat, and gives the game a new mechanic that players can use.

Battle royal has become one of the more favored genres in gaming ever since the release of H1Z1 and Player’s Unknown Battle Grounds.

Reviews for Fortnite have been mainly positive; for it’s free-to-play access and the mechanics of the game. Many gaming companies have taken a liking to Fortnite and many famous YouTubers have profited from Fortnite. Many companies have prospered because of Fortnite like: Twitch, PlayStation, Microsoft and Epic Games.

Epic Games was also affected, because of how many players downloaded Fortnite and played. Epic Games had to increase the amount of servers they had because of the increase of Fortnite players. This also affected another game that Epic Games had been developing over the past 2 years, which was Paragon.

Fortnite has been used by YouTubers, and streamers, to boost their incomes; mainly, YouTubers because of the new Terms of Service, of how certain graphical videos would earn no ads for that particular video. This meant that YouTubers couldn’t earn money from uploading videos of certain games, so many YouTubers became streamers; also known as monetization.

Twitch gained a positive value from Fortnite because of the amount of streamers who had come to stream Fortnite using Twitch. This allowed Twitch and the streamer to earn donations by the viewers who watched. Twitch gained an increase in streamers, once Fortnite gained popularity, before the end of 2017. This affected Twitch’s views, economy, software updates, and the streamers who used Twitch.

Image taken from: http://www.semireject.com/2017/09/28/fortnite-battle-royale-popular-twitch/

Social media

Social media is great for a lot of reasons: it can educate us, bring us closer together to those who we admire, it’s cheap entertainment, and new friends are just a click away. Another way social media positively impacts us, is it can help us with today’s world. For example, “social media is an integral part of today’s society” according to an article on Teenshiled.com.

Although social media positively impacts resilience, it can also negatively impact it too. For example, infographic states that social media “Takes away time we can spend face to face” This shows that social media can negatively impact a person because instead of spending time with their family or friends, they rely on technology for interaction and entertainment. Addiction to social media can, and will, take away time from the things that are important to you. A lot of studies, like one found on Time.com, even show that social media can make you dumber.

Another negative impact of social media is cyber bullying. Many people decide to bully other people behind a screen. Cyber bullying is a major issue that affects many teenagers’ lives. Bullying is definitely not right, but it’s harder when someone you don’t know keeps harassing you. It even makes it harder to seek help, or confront them, because you don’t know who they are.

What many people don’t know is that social media makes a lot of money off of people. According to Social Networking “ Social network ad spending reached $23.68 billion in 2015 and should reach $35.98 billion by the end of 2017.” Sites like Facebook. Twitter, Tumblr etc. might be free, but they still get money from users that have accounts. So, you might think no money is being made from you, but the truth is these sites and other social media sites are making money off of your entertainment.

Another thing that’s wrong about social media is that your privacy could be invaded. Whatever you post on your social media site is public, so it can be seen by anyone. Many jobs actually look at their candidates post to determine what interests this person. So, if you are a person that posts problematic things, just remember it’s public and everyone can see it, even your future boss.

Social media is a great place to explore yourself, but it also has negative parts to it. Just make sure you’re careful.