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DayZ Standalone Early Access Review

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review

Price: £19.99
Developer: Bohemia Interactive
Publisher: Bohemia Interactive
Date Tested: 26/03/2014

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review DayZ Early Access Review

Note: Early Access Reviews are critical appraisals of games still in development which are charging money for player access to their alpha and beta stages. This review is intended to give you an idea of whether the game is currently worth investing in, but without offering a final verdict.

Take a cursory glance at DayZ and it appears little has changed in the four months since release. The major content Bohemia are planning for the mod; namely vehicles, craftable bases, and broader communication channels such as radios, are still a long way from being added. Investigate a little further, however, and you’ll discover that significant changes have been made, but they’re many and small rather than large and few.

For example, rain was added about a month ago, and now players can catch the water droplets in their canteens, making it ever so slightly easier to acquire this vital resource. In addition, players can aim their guns while sat down, enabling them to sit around a campfire with friends without completely compromising their safety, or keep watch over player prisoners in a more casual, more disturbing manner.

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review DayZ Early Access Review

There are lots of different little channels that feed into DayZ’s remarkable success since it debuted on Steam Early Access at the end of last year. But one of them is this detailed way in which players can interact with their environment and the other players they encounter in post-apocalypse Chernarus. It’s this granularity of experience which Bohemia have been chasing since the Standalone release.

To understand the importance of this, it’s necessary to grasp the basis of what DayZ is, and the developer’s intent behind it. For all its layers of complexity, your ultimate goal when playing DayZ is the most basic possible. Stay alive. Do not die. See that bucket? Avoid kicking it. This is done by seeing to your needs, avoiding the zombies scattered around the environment like organic litter, and performing the delicate and potentially deadly social dance with fellow survivors you’ll inevitably encounter during your travels.

Your objective may be simple, but achieving it is anything but. Resources are scarce, and you require lots of food and water just to keep your body functional. The first hour or so of a DayZ life are a half-terrifying, half-gleeful rush as you frantically scour the nearest village for supplies, interspersed with moments of bravely running away from the prowling zombies.

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review DayZ Early Access Review

If you’re very lucky you might find enough food and water to keep you healthy. More typically you’ll either bleed to death after being attacked by your first zombie, or find nothing but rotten food, eat that in desperation, become sick, and spend the next half hour hopelessly searching for the right medication before ultimately collapsing. This is of course an entirely hypothetical scenario and definitely not what happened to me in my first and second lives.

Learning how to cope in this extremely harsh environment is a big factor in what makes DayZ so compelling. So is learning how to navigate it. Modern games are obsessed with keeping the player oriented, ensuring they always know where they are and where they are going, and there’s something about the challenge of being lost in a wilderness that is paradoxically liberating. The moment you first find a map in an abandoned car or inside a petrol station is breathlessly exciting. Then comes the puzzle of figuring out where you are on it, googling the Russian alphabet so you can translate the town signs written in Cyrillic to match them with the map names scribed in English.

DayZ Standalone Early Access Review DayZ Early Access Review

It helps that Chernarus is an incredible foundation for a game like this. Its sweeping vistas, highly realistic terrain, foreboding climate and dilapidated Baltic settlements all contribute to the sense that this is a world where nature has wrested control back from humanity, but also as a place where hope still lingers. Trekking through one of DayZ’s many forests, watching the sunlight shaft through the canopy, listening to your plodding footfall and the twittering birds in the trees is an oddly relaxing experience, providing relief between frantic zombie combat and tense encounters with other survivors.

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Crave Ep. 152: App lets you make music with a full symphony

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How fast can you solve a Rubik’s cube? Probably not as fast as the CubeStormer 3 Lego robot, which just set a new world record. We jam with Cadenza, an app out of Harvard that lets you play along with a full orchestra, and we get Superman’s POV using a drone, a green screen, and some really creative video. All that and more on this week’s Crave show.

Crave stories:

- Lego robot sets new Rubik’s Cube world record

- Cubli cube robot demonstrates incredible balance

- Tidy Dog: Smart toy bin trains pups to pick up

- Prepare Barbie for battle with 3D-printed armor

- Instrument reads tattoos as sheet music

- Cadenza: You play, and a full orchestra plays with you

- Superman + drone + GoPro = awesome POV footage

Social networking:

- Stephen on Twitter

- Stephen on Google+

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Mapping the human face in 900 megapixels


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Lexy Savvides/CNET)

Daniel Boschung is a cartographer, but not as you know it.

He creates intricate photographs captured by his robotic camera that provide incredibly high-resolution overviews of paintings and insects.

For his latest project, Boschung set his camera on faces. He asked his subjects to remain perfectly still for 30 minutes as the robot took their portrait.

Each of the finished photos consists of 600 individual shots all stitched together. The level of detail captured is amazing, turning a regular portrait into a map of the human face. Eyelashes, stray hairs, and pores get captured in all their macro glory with incredible depth-of-field. Just like a gigapixel image, you can zoom in and out to explore every facet of the photo.

The photos are all taken by an ABB industrial robot that has been programmed specifically to take the images in the correct order and orientation. A Canon 5D Mark II is the workhorse responsible for churning out the images, equipped with a 180mm macro lens that has been customized to act as a telecentrical lens. This means that the optical image of the actual aperture stop is set at infinity.

Illuminating 600 images taken in quick succession would usually present a problem with overheating and variable color temperature when using normal studio flashes, so Boschung used the Scoro S 32000 RFS 2 from Broncolor.

The finished product. You wouldn’t look particularly happy either if you had to sit perfectly still with no expression for half an hour.


(Credit:
Screenshot by Lexy Savvides/CNET)

You can explore the finished portraits on the project Web site and take a closer look at how the robotic camera arrangement operates in the video below.

(Source: CNET Australia)

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Kaffe qif qiya! Finally, a course to help kids learn Dothraki

Completely appropriate for children, the Muzzy Dothraki language program will have your kids running their own khalasar in no time!


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET)

Hey kids! Have you ever wanted to learn how to say “I will dance in your blood?” in the Dothraki language made popular on “Game of Thrones”? Parents, do you want to arm your kids with vital language skills in a world that’s increasingly being taken over by strange terms like “Valyrian steel,” and “mother of dragons?” If so, video-spoof-making team Nacho Punch has got just the thing for you.

Their latest YouTube parody takes a 1990s commercial for a video set that teaches kids to learn a foreign language by following along with the slightly creepy character “Muzzy,” and melds it with the fantasy world of “Game of Thrones.”

“With this unique language course,” the video says, “humans, giants and even bastards can learn a second language with incredible ease.” The course isn’t just for wannabe Dothraki speakers either. It also offers lessons in Valyrian, Hodor and White Walker.

The cost for the set of “four delightful videos” is a deal too: just three petrified dragon eggs, or 20 gold pieces a month for six months.

Even though the video is a spoof, such a language-learning set for Dothraki isn’t really that crazy. The language actually exists. It was created by David Peterson, who won a contest sponsored by the Language Creation Society to invent the vocabulary and grammar for the HBO show. It has more than 3,000 words and a Web site that tells you all you’d ever really want to know about speaking the language.

The Muzzy/Dothraki mashup is just one of the latest in a long line of Nacho Punch short animations like “Star Wars: The Lost 1980s Anime,” humorous series like “Robin Banks and the Bank Roberts,” and spoof videos like “Hipsters Love Beer,” which went viral after it was released in January, according to the Nacho Punch peeps.

So act soon to reserve a Dothraki Muzzy language course for your kids, because you never know when they’ll need to talk their way out a tricky situation with a nomadic horde at school. And Qafak qov kaffe qif qiya fini kaf faqqies fakaya! (That means, “The trembling questioner crushed the bleeding boar that squished a kicking corn bunting,” but I’m still learning, so give me a break.)

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Blood testing coming to a touch screen near you

Qloudlab says the sensors normally used for finger tracking can also be used for bio-sensing detection of molecules, making blood coagulation testing possible.


(Credit:
Qloudlab)

People with hemophilia, or those taking anticoagulants to help prevent dangerous outcomes such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, or ischemic stroke, are unfortunately at a higher risk of bleeding easily. To better monitor these patients, health care professionals typically take blood coagulation tests in hospitals and clinics — which can be a real burden both financially and logistically.

But soon, thanks to startup Qloudlab, based in the microengineering lab in Switzerland’s EPFL tech university, these patients may be able to use the touch screens on their phones or other devices to test their blood coagulation, all in the comfort of their own homes — or wherever.




(Credit:

Alain Herzog/EPFL
)

It’s still a blood test, and thus still requires a drop of blood — which sounds unadvisable anywhere near a smartphone, let alone right on its screen. But the tech they hope to demonstrate sometime in 2015 is actually, at least in theory, well contained.

To take the test, the patient will have to press a small plastic sticker that is just a few micrometers thick to the surface of the screen. It’s a microfluidic sticker, which means it’s embedded with minuscule channels that absorb the drop of blood. As the sample passes through the sticker’s microchannels, the blood will come into contact with a molecule that initiates coagulation.

This is where the touch screen comes in. Using the sensors that can determine where it is being touched (i.e. where the screen’s electric field is being disrupted), the screen can detect with incredible precision when and where the blood is moving through those tiny channels across the small surface area where the sticker touches the screen. Though the phone detects this movement as simple touch, the Qloudlab app translates those signals into a blood coagulation reading.

If it works, the tech could be a boon for the patients who will get to regularly test their blood at home and shoot the results off to their docs, and it could lead to other developments medically and beyond that take advantage of the powers of touch screens.

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Xbox head Whitten departs for Sonos

Xbox head Whitten departs for Sonos

Marc Whitten is officially leaving Microsoft after 14 years on the Xbox programme, joining network audio specialist Sonos as chief product officer.


Xbox head Marc Whitten has officially ended his 14-year career leading Microsoft’s gaming division with the news that he’s leaving to take on a new role at network audio specialist Sonos.

Whitten was a member of the original Xbox team back in 2000, and has been involved with the brand ever since. Overseeing all three generations – Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One – of Microsoft’s console programme, Whitten has decided to move on and is to become the chief product officer at Sonos.

I have had the extreme pleasure over the last 14 years to work on the greatest product with the greatest team and for the greatest community, claimed Whitten in a statement to press and customers. ‘Xbox is so special because of the amazing team I’ve had the opportunity to work with and because our fans are the most incredible fans on the planet. It has been the highlight of my career to work on a product so loved. It’s incredibly tough to leave but I am confident the best days are ahead for Xbox fans, in the capable hands of a very talented team.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Marc for more than a decade and he has always led Xbox forward with a focus on our fans and delivering a platform that developers and creators can embrace to deliver incredible games and entertainment,‘ claimed head of Microsoft Studios Phil Spencer of Whitten’s tenure. ‘We wish Marc well, while looking forward to the next chapter of Xbox.

The Xbox team will now report directly to Terry Myerson, whose expanded role now sees him leading Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox software platform development. This, however, is temporary, with Microsoft indicating it will be seeking a permanent replacement for Whitten in the near future.

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Cubli cube robot demonstrates incredible balance

Cubli
(Credit:
(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia))

Some robots do something useful, like ordnance disposal. Some robots do something artistic, like produce music. Some are more interactive. And some robots are just danged cool.

On that note, we’ve recently stumbled across Cubli, a little cube-shaped robot made by Gajan Mohanarajah, Ph.D. candidate and research assistant at ETH Zurich. Cubli isn’t designed to build a wall or translate slime mold. Instead, it’s based on a very simple idea: “Can we build a 15-centimeter-sided cube that can jump up, balance on its corner, and walk across our desk using off-the-shelf motors, batteries, and electronic components?”

Balancing is not necessarily difficult to achieve (although it looks amazing); the trickiest part was in getting the cube to jump up from a resting position to a balancing position, since it releases a burst of energy to do so, and needed to be kept stable. The solution was to use momentum wheels, which are the same kind of flywheel used for altitude control in spacecraft.

These momentum wheels were then also used to help the cube balance by using the reaction torques‘ acceleration and deceleration.

“These torques are what the Cubli’s structure ‘feels’ when the three motors attached to it accelerate or decelerate the wheels,” Mohanarajah explained. “In fact, Cubli’s controller tries to minimise wheel velocities in addition to keeping the structure upright. This method is more reactive to external disturbances and reduces vibrations and sensor noise.”

The resulting robot is able to jump from a resting position to balancing on an edge, then a corner; and it can “walk” by jumping up, balancing on an edge and falling onto another side of the cube, effectively rolling along. It’s really cool stuff, and we’d love to have one of our own just to play with.

(Source: Crave Australia via Robohub)

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Let them eat Yoda: A geek food feast full of fun and failure

Geek food feast

Ready to suck some juice out of the Incredible Hulk’s head.


(Credit:
Amanda Kooser/CNET)

I recently stood at the end cap of a grocery store aisle, doing a double-take at a stack of macaroni-and-cheese boxes. I rubbed my eyes. I wasn’t seeing things. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Kraft
mac and cheese is a real thing. And it’s not alone. Geek marketing of foods is a trend.

There are Angry Birds fruit gummies, Super Mario Campbell’s chicken noodle soup cans, Spider-Man Cheez-It crackers, Iron Man candies, and some sort of mysterious juice beverage with the Incredible Hulk’s roid-rage head on top of it. I bought them all. I poked and prodded them. I inspected Yoda’s apple-flavored gummy ears. I held crackers up into the light to evaluate the artwork. I even ate them.

Since the early days of “Buck Rogers” tie-ins with Kellogg’s back in the 1930s, geek properties have found a way to hook up with food-related products. For the most part, the results fall into the snack food and candy realm, the kind of products meant to fuel a binge video-gaming session. A few, like the Super Mario soup, could pass as main dishes if you have a flexible idea of what qualifies as an entree.

I was hard-pressed to build a full meal around my purchases, but settled on Ninja Turtle pasta with a side of Soup-er Mario, Hulk juice for a beverage, and Angry Birds graham crackers (with Angry Birds gummies) for dessert. It was a meal fit for a geek with an iron constitution. The only thing missing was a “Game of Thrones” beer, but my local store was fresh out.

In the course of my investigations, I ate crackers with spiders on them, munched on C-3PO’s head, chewed up Red Bird, cracked open an Iron Man egg, and boiled Donatello the Ninja Turtle, all in the pursuit of gustatory glory. What did I actually get? And what did these things actually taste like? Scroll through the gallery for a full list of geeky comestibles and find out:

Taste-testing foods with geek flair (pictures)

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Create a retro game console with the Raspberry Pi


(Credit:
Dan Graziano/CNET)

The projects people have created with the Raspberry Pi are truly incredible. The low-cost microcomputer has been used to power home automation projects, servers, media centers, and many other do-it-yourself projects. One of the coolest projects is called Retro Pie, which transforms the Raspberry Pi into a retro gaming console and gives you the ability to play classics like Super Mario Bros., Space Invaders, Sonic the Hedgehog, and many others.

The project is a little difficult and requires you to input various lines of code, but you should be fine if you follow these directions. If this is your first time with the Raspberry Pi, I suggest you check out my earlier article for more information about the device.

Requirements

The Retro Pie can work with either the $25 Raspberry Pi Model A or the slightly more expensive Model B, I recommend the latter. For an extra $10, the Model B adds an additional USB port, an Ethernet port, and doubles the memory to 512MB.


(Credit:
Sarah Tew/CNET)

Other items you will need include a monitor connected through either AV or HDMI, an Xbox 360 controller, an Ethernet cord or wireless USB adapter, a 4GB Class 4 SD card or better, a USB keyboard, and a USB flash drive. A Micro-USB power supply capable of outputting at least 850 milliamps at 5 volts is needed to power the device, while an SD card reader (unless the computer you are using has one) is needed to transfer the operating system to the card. I also picked up a USB Hub for connecting more components, but this is optional.

Preparing the SD card.

The team behind the project have created a ready-to-use SD card image that will automatically install the Retro Pie software. The file can be downloaded from the PetRockBlog Web site, it must then be extracted to your SD card using the program Wind32DiskImager on Windows or RPi SD card builder on OS X. If you are having trouble with the RPi SD card builder software, try Pi Filler.


(Credit:
Sarah Tew/CNET)

In the Wind32DiskImager program make sure to select the Write option when extracting the image file to your SD card.

On OS X 10.8, you are unable to double-click to open apps that didn’t come from a verified source or from the
Mac App Store. To get around this simply right-click the icon, select Open, and hit the “OK” button.

First boot

Connect your monitor, keyboard, Ethernet cable,
Xbox 360 controller, and SD card to the Raspberry Pi. Once all of these are plugged in, you can now connect the Micro-USB cable, at which point the Raspberry Pi will automatically turn on.


(Credit:
Dan Graziano/CNET)

The device will boot into the Emulation Station (the Retro Pie’s main interface). Before configuring your controller, we must change a few settings. Press the “F4″ key to exit the Emulation Station and enter the command line.


(Credit:
Dan Graziano/CNET)

After installing Retro Pie with the SD card image, the card must be expanded to ensure that you can access all available space. Once exiting the Emulation Station, type “sudo raspi-config” in the command line, choose to expand the filesystem, and hit Ok. Then scroll down and select the fourth option to set up language and regional settings. Choose your location, time zone, and keyboard layout — it’s set to U.K. by default. Once complete, scroll down to Finish and perform a system reboot.


(Credit:
Dan Graziano/CNET)

Make sure to press the spacebar (not the Enter key) to deselect the U.K. keyboard layout and select U.S., then hit Ok to use the location as your default.

Configure the Xbox Controller

After the system powers back on, once again exit the Emulation Station by pressing the “F4″ key. In the command line, type “sudo apt-get install xboxdrv” and hit Enter to download and install the driver for the Xbox 360 controller. Once the driver has installed, type “sudo nano /etc/rc.local” in the command line and hit Enter. Tap the down arrow until your cursor is between the “fi” and “exit 0″ lines.

In between those two lines, type “xboxdrv –trigger-as-button –id 0 –led 2 –deadzone 4000 –silent sleep 1″. If you are going to use more than one controller, enter “xboxdrv –trigger-as-button –id 1 –led 3 –deadzone 4000 –silent sleep 1″ directly under the first command. If the Xbox 360 controller is wireless, replace “id” with “wid” in the command line.

Don’t forget to save the selection. This can be done by pressing the “CTRL” and “X” key and pressing “Y” to confirm. Then, press Enter to return to the command line and type “sudo reboot” to restart the device.


(Credit:
Dan Graziano/CNET)

When the system comes back online you will be asked to configure the controller in the Emulation Station, simply follow the onscreen directions to do so.

Exit the Emulation Station one last time by pressing the “F4″ key, type “cd RetroPie/emulators/RetroArch/installdir/bin” in the command line, and press Enter. Then, type “./retroarch-joyconfig ~/RetroPie/configs/all/retroarch.cfg” in the command line and follow the onscreen directions for configuring your controller. Once complete, perform a system reboot with the command “sudo reboot”.

If the “~” key is giving you a different symbol, try pressing the “shift” and “” key at the same time.

Transferring ROMS

The Retro Pie supports ROMs, which are essentially a digital copy of a game, for the Atari 2600, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, Game Gear, MAME, NeoGeo, Sega Master System, Sega Megadrive, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and
PlayStation, among a few other systems.

(Credit:
Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET)

The easiest way to transfer ROMs, in my opinion, is to use a USB flash drive. Power on the Raspberry Pi and once in the Emulation Station, connect the USB drive to the device. The operating system will automatically create a ROM directory on the flash drive. Once it has stopped flashing, remove the drive from the Raspberry Pi, connect it to your computer, and transfer the ROMs into their corresponding folders. For example, a Sega ROM should be placed in the Sega folder, a Super Nintendo game in the NES folder, and so on.

ROMs will automatically be transferred from your USB drive to the Raspberry Pi the next time you connect the flash drive.

Tips

If you ever need to redo the controller configuration inside of the Emulation Station, type “rm /home/pi/.emulationstation/es_input.cfg” in the command line to delete your original setup.

To return to the Emulation Station, type “emulationstation” in the command line. If you are playing a game, simply press the “ESC” key on your keyboard to return to the main menu.

Typing “sudo nano /home/pi/RetroPie/configs/all/retroarch.cfg” in the command line will open a window that allows you to view and edit specific buttons on the controller.

The most ambitious Raspberry Pi projects (pictures)

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Kids attempt to use rotary phone, confusion ensues


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET)

It wasn’t too long ago that rotary phones and pay phones were standard ways to communicate. You’d wait for a dial tone and then make your call. And if you got a busy signal, you’d hang up the phone and try later. There was no call waiting. No texting. No smiley-face emojicons.

In the latest “Kids React” video by new-media production duo Benny and Rafi Fine — also known as The Fine Brothers — kids and teens attempt to not only use a rotary phone, but try to figure out how to text on one. And fail.

“We’ve been making this series now for over three years and near 100 episodes,” Benny Fine told Crave. “We’ve always found inside of a lot of the subject matter the reality of things that seem so recent being completely foreign to the next generation…and this was an evolution to that concept.”

In the video “Kids React to Rotary Phones,” kids ages 5 to 13 were asked to operate the phone without being instructed how to use it beforehand.

While the Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone toy, which was introduced to the toy market in 1962, still remains the most popular “rotary” phone, it’s surprising that many of the kids in the video had no idea how to use a rotary phone at all.

“Everyone knew it was a phone, but did not realize how it worked,” Fine said. “The kids not realizing they had to pick up the receiver before dialing was pretty amazing to see. Same with not knowing about busy signals or pay phones. We’re so old!”

“The fact one of them said they know what it is because they have a toy of it,” Fine added. “Pretty incredible to see once state-of-the-art technology be known as a toy.”

One of the highlights of the video is when the kids are asked to text using the rotary phone and stare at the device in complete confusion. After attempting to use the letters on the dials, or Morse code, they realize texting isn’t possible on the rotary phone in front of them.

“If you wanted to talk to your friends… oh that’s how you’d call,” Brooke-Monae, age 8, says.

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