Apple’s choice to keep stores closed is a smart call during stupid times

If it wasn’t obvious before, it’s now crystal clear that we’re living in dangerous times — an era when government officials somehow continue to question the seriousness of the deadly coronavirus, and medical experts require not just safety masks but security details. Less than two weeks ago, U.S. President Donald Trump said he wanted businesses and churches reopened by Easter — April 12 — and a leaked memo from Apple detailed the company’s plan to start reopening some brick and mortar stores within the same general timeframe.

At that point, an argument could have been made for reopening select stores in unaffected areas — say, cities without bans on public gatherings, or countries that haven’t yet experienced outbreaks — but even so, getting back to business as usual seemed at least somewhat premature. Trump’s claim at the time was that the economic cost of shutting America down to fight COVID-19 was more dangerous than the disease itself, but health officials have universally disputed that, noting that death tolls could climb into the hundreds of thousands or millions. Today, over 55,000 people have died, and more than a million have been diagnosed as infected, numbers that are expected to dramatically rise by April 15.

So it’s not a surprise that Apple reversed its prior plans this week, letting employees know (in another leaked memo) that it’s now planning to keep its retail stores closed until early May. Though that’s a full month away right now, Apple retail SVP Deirdre O’Brien wrote that the company continues “to monitor local conditions for every Apple facility on a daily basis,” and will make “reopening decisions on the basis of thorough, thoughtful reviews and the latest guidance from local governments and public health experts.” O’Brien’s latest memo leaves ambiguous whether the company’s May reopening plans are limited to U.S. stores, but they’re certainly covered.

Those of us who have lived through prior outbreaks (albeit at a much greater distance than this) know from experience that scientists, epidemiologists, and other medical professionals try their best to manage these situations, but work with incomplete and evolving data that requires course corrections over time. Yesterday’s best practice may be tomorrow’s mistake; reasons for cautious optimism may give way to utter caution, or flip in the opposite direction. People who try to make business decisions based on the current state of medical guidance are taking a risk, regardless of whether they opt for boldness or caution.

Regardless, this clearly isn’t the right time for a bold resumption of the prior status quo. Beyond the changing federal message, uneven measures taken by individual U.S. states and cities have apparently given some people the impression that they needn’t self-isolate or even follow the most basic social distancing guidelines. This has become a problem in places with gathering bans, where some people openly disobey the rules, as well as places without bans, where hoping people will exercise good judgment is apparently too much to ask, and COVID-19 infections continue to grow.

In the absence of a uniform, unambiguous federal policy that keeps everything closed until the outbreak subsides, the best we can hope for is that companies put the long-term interests of their employees and customers ahead of their short-term desire to generate revenue. Apple may have been ready to start moving in the wrong direction last month, and it’s still not doing everything right across the board, but keeping at least its U.S. retail locations closed through early May was the right call for public health. Here’s hoping that other retailers — and government officials — are wise enough to follow its example.

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Bethesda Cancels Its E3-Like Stream For June

Bethesda has taken to Twitter to confirm that it won’t be holding its annual E3-like Livestream event this year. Pete Hines (SVP of global marketing and communications at Bethesda) made the announcement today, stating, “Given the many challenges we’re facing due to the pandemic, we will not host a digital Showcase in June.

In the past, Bethesda would hold its own little event a day before E3 started to showcase its upcoming releases for the future. This is where we got information about RAGE 2, Doom Eternal, and even the still unseen Elder Scrolls VI. With the coronavirus pandemic still an ongoing struggle, it seems Bethesda would rather err on the side of caution than put together sizzle reels.

The timing of the announcement is giving people reason to pause. It seems kind of tacky to make a formal decision like this on April Fool’s day, but there’s no reason to truly doubt Hines’ words. Bethesda may make boneheaded decisions when it comes to game features, but the company isn’t so tone-deaf as to cancel an event as a joke.

With E3 officially being called off, there’s no real reason to put together a single stream when the company can do multiple ones throughout the year. That is probably what Bethesda’s strategy is here.

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10 Dragon Age Mysteries That Still Aren’t Solved

With the third installment of the Dragon Age series now five years past, fans have been speculating over the many unanswered questions–some of which are raised in the novels and some of which are raised in the games. With a series containing such vast, ever-growing lore, there are a number of theories floated about. Some of these theories are of the tinfoil hat variety, while others are a bit more grounded in canon.

This list acknowledges less of the fandom’s wishful thinking, and more the unexplained mysteries. These may be to-be-answered in the next installation, but (if we ever get the next game) knowing the current creative leads and writers, we’ll continue to be mercilessly teased about what might be next.

10 Andraste

Its clear Andraste is the Bride of the Maker, an Alamarri woman betrayed and a former Tevinter slave, who marched on her former captors with Shartan, the elven leader, in the absence of the Old Gods. She brought freedom to elves, and the Chant of Light–after her martyrdom on a fiery stake. To many, she signifies hope and peace.

The real mystery lies in her connection to the Maker. Why did he choose her? Why did she have visions of him or the Old Gods? (Like our Andrastian Leliana, who has visions in Dragon Age: Origins (DA:O)).

9 The Maker

Quite possibly the figment of a deluded, sickly Andraste, a manipulation by the Chantry, a helpful spirit from the Fade, or even one of the Evanuris, the Maker remains one of the biggest mysteries in the Dragon Age series.

The creators of the series largely leave it up to the players to determine their belief in the Maker or not, but it certainly begs the question for Thedas–who really made it all, and who spoke to Andraste? Unless, was she really just a crazy lady with hallucinations?

8 The Elven Pantheon

Also known as the Evanuris, Solas reveals these beings as extremely powerful elves.  The Creators, named so by the Dalish, include Elgar’nan, Mythal, Falon’Din, Dirthamen, Andruil, Sylaise, June, and Ghilan’nain–referenced by the vallaslin, which belong to each god.

Solas and the peoples of Thedas mention Old Gods or Forgotten Ones, who fought the Evanuris. The real mystery lies in how Fen’Harel managed to trick both sides and create the Veil, as well as if the Forgotten Ones are the same Old Gods who started the Blight. It begs the question: did the creation of the Veil, separating the Evanuris from the Fade and Thedas, have any connection to the Black City and the Magisters or not?

7 Flemeth/Mythal

Players first meet to Morrigan’s mother, in DA:O. . Talking with Flemeth or her daughter reveals as much. Flemeth’s power is confirmed in Dragon Age II (DAII); though Flemeth becomes a dragon and dies in DA:O, she returns in DAII to save Hawke and family as they flee Lothering.

She seems everywhere and nowhere in the series, but it isn’t until Dragon Age: Inquisition that players learn Flemeth is a vessel for Mythal. The mystery lies in her future relationship to the protagonist in the next game, the Inquisitor, and Thedas, depending who drank from the Well of Sorrows, and if Morrigan’s son houses an Old God soul.

6 The Qunari

With their isolationist culture, the Qunari are confusing people. There are those who blindly follow the Qun, yet the Tal Vashoth leave the Qun. Most Qunari are born into their religion and have little reason to leave their place in society, yet those like Iron Bull, an agent of the Ben Hassrath, and regularly interacts with the outside world.

Characters like him reinforce that the Qun is useful to refugees and non-mages. The real mystery: where are the Qunari from; will they dominate Thedas in the future; and what will Solas’ plan for removing the Veil force them to do?

5 Lyrium

One vial, two vials… Red vial, blue vial. A drug for the templars of the Chantry, a focusing tool to seekers, a necessity for all mages, and harmless to dwarves (mostly), lyrium remains one of the most important, yet poorly understood resources in Thedas. The dwarves safeguard its mining in secret.

Until DAII, players only experienced its uncorrupted form. After entering the Deep Roads, Hawke and company discover a nasty totem of red lyrium, which players later learn is normal lyrium suffering from the taint. How is lyrium corrupted? Yet another unsolved mystery.

4 Sandal

A fan favorite from DA:O and DAII, Sandal Feddic is suspected of many things. Some view him as a potential host to an Old God soul, due to his ability to manipulate lyrium and enchant runes naturally. Additionally, when players encounter Sandal, he is often in a very dangerous place and seems entirely unaffected.

His token phrase, “Enchantment!” makes him seem incapable and addled, but his various feats of survival and badassery reveal otherwise. The real mystery about Sandal is if we will ever learn who he really is. At the very least, let’s hope Sandal will cameo in the next installation of the Dragon Age series.

3 The Architect

Encountered by the Hero of Ferelden in DA:O Awakening, veterans of the series and fans of the books will recognize the Architect’s second appearance. (For the first encounter with the Architect, check out The Calling by one of Dragon Age‘s original writers, David Gaider).

The mysterious nature of this character is why he looks exactly like a Magister, yet seeks to end the Calling and save darkspawn. The Architect’s motives are not entirely selfless, as players come to find, but there remains no answer if he was successful in finding a cure for the Calling, even if aided by the Hero of Ferelden.

2 The Magisters/Corypheus

Corypheus makes his goals abundantly clear in Dragon Age: Inquisition, as he tries to take over the world using the Rift in the Veil and stolen elven magic. His first appearance in the DAII: Legacy DLC gives players a first taste of Tevinter Magisters and their power.

His various comments throughout the game, as well as this first appearance in DAII, spark more questions about the Magisters themselves, including why Corypheus is so different from the Architect, if the Magisters entered the Fade before or after the Veil’s creation, and if their magic is all stolen from the ancient elves.

1 The Black City

Formerly known as the Golden City and the heart of the Fade, the Black City was corrupted by the Magisters’ attempts to take control. The Black City is also seen as the former seat of the Maker of the Old Gods; it is also seen as a prison of the Old Gods after the Maker abandoned them.

Yet, Corypheus notes the city as blackened when the Magisters attempted to claim it. According to the Chant of Light, only the Maker can restore the city, who knows with Bioware? Yet another mystery…

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Quantum Error Teaser Trailer Shows Off Cosmic Horror In Full Glory

New cosmic horror game Quantum Error will convince you that firefighters are not the right emergency responders to fight otherworldly demons.

From TeamKill Media comes their sophomore title, Quantum Error. Their first game, Kings of Lorn: The Fall of Ebris, arrived on PC (via Steam), PS4, and Xbox One last November and didn’t make much of a splash. A dark fantasy survival-horror game, Kings of Lorn certainly looks neat, but Steam has scant reviews and Metacritic is likely sparse.

That said, TeamKill seems to have a genre and they’re sticking with it. Quantum Error brings the same dark and survival horror elements to Sony’s upcoming fifth console, and a new trailer shows us just what we’re in for.

And what that seems to be is a fire breaking out on a mountainous installation where firefighters come armed with shotguns and oxygen tanks. Perhaps this is some alien moon where oxygen is in short supply? Perhaps this is an oil rig high up in the Himalayas? Or maybe some cosmic horror has just sucked out the air and turned everyone in the building into zombies? We don’t know. What we do know is that those zombies are out for blood and that one pitiful shotgun seems woefully inadequate to the task at hand.

There’s no release date for Quantum Error, but if we had to guess, it’ll likely be out shortly after the PS5’s arrival this holiday season.

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Borderlands 3 Event Takedown Shakedown Extended For The Level Cap Update

The new Takedown Shakedown limited-time event in Borderlands 3 has been extended on PC, PlayStation 4, Stadia, and Xbox One. The event will now end on Thursday, April 2 instead of the originally planned March 27. [Update: There’s also another new Borderlands 3 event going on now that centers around giving you more legendary weapons. You can also check out the patch notes for the new update that increased the game’s level cap and much more.]

Takedown Shakedown sees the bosses in the Maliwan Blacksite, the location from 2019’s Takedown at the Maliwan Blacksite event, dropping more loot than usual. Gearbox said this special event is to provide some solace for those “stuck at home and looking for something fun to do in the here and now” while practicing social distancing. (We’ve compiled some of the best games to play while stuck at home during these times.) The studio also said it will be “rolling out a series of similar mini-events in the coming weeks.”

According to Gearbox, Takedown Shakedown is specifically targeted at endgame users as only those who have finished Borderlands 3’s main story campaign can access the endgame challenge. While Takedown’s difficulty will scale depending on the size of your party, Gearbox said the event is really intended for “max-level characters with powerful gear.”

Borderlands 3’s next major piece of DLC, Guns, Love, and Tentacles: The Marriage of Wainwright & Hammerlock, just went live for all platforms. With that update also comes a level cap increase from 53 to 57, following February’s increase from 50 to 53. Gearbox expects this seemingly mild change to bring about a “huge surge of power for endgame players.” You can read the full Guns, Love, and Tentacles patch notes here.

In other Borderlands 3 news, Gearbox recently pushed a small hotfix update to all platforms that addressed “concerns reported by the community.” One particular change was an adjustment to Tyreen glitching in-game.

Borderlands 3 News

  • Borderlands 3 Patch Notes For New DLC's Update
  • Borderlands 3 Steam Is Out Now: 50% Off, Cross-Play, System Requirements, And More Details

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These Uncharted 4 Photo Mode Shots Are Pure Art

Game photography is quickly becoming its own genre within gaming, with more and more games adding camera features. Talented players have been finding new ways to experiment with the medium, leading to some outstanding pieces of art and a new form of photography.

Twitter user @LUCKYless11 has taken some exemplary shots within Uncharted 4, using the photo mode included in-game to produce a form of virtual photography. These images feel almost realistic in nature, completely candid and relaxed, like a photograph taken from someone’s real home and not a video game.

Even Neil Drunkmann, Vice President of Naughty Dog, has praised these shots on twitter.

Originally, players would make similar kinds of shots by just taking screenshots in-game, but now games are more commonly including photo or camera modes for players to experiment and share their experiences online. This has led to an increased number of people becoming interested in virtual photography or ‘gametographers’.

This is added by the level of quality games are achieving these days, with graphics becoming almost realistic in nature. Games like Horizon Zero Dawn, Red Dead Redemption 2, Days Gone, Assassins Creed Odyssey, and Uncharted 4 all have stunning environments and atmospheres that can be captured by these aspiring gametographers.

As this new form of media continues to develop, we are sure to see even more of these kinds of extraordinary artworks popping up.

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Evil Geniuses sign FGC stars SonicFox and dekillsage

Boosting its presence in the fighting game community (FGC), Evil Geniuses has signed Dominique “SonicFox” McLean and Jon “dekillsage” Coello. The two players join Christopher “NYChrisG” Gonzalez and Ricki Ortiz on EG’s FGC roster.


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          SonicFox most recently took first place at Final Kombat 2020, grabbing the top prize of $40,000. Meanwhile, dekillsage claimed third place at the Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour Finals in February. While at the event, he beat out current teammates NYChrisG and SonicFox.

          Joining and becoming Evil Geniuses

          In the description of SonicFox and dekillsage’s introduction video, the two players commented on their move to Evil Geniuses.

          “I’m excited to join EG because now I can enable the anti-hero side of me hella hard. EG are all about living outside of the norm and standing up for those that don’t have a voice, which is something I embody and stand for every day. I can’t wait to see all the things we can do together,” SonicFox said.

          Meanwhile, dekillsage said he was looking forward to competing and making content for Evil Geniuses, along with learning “how to Live Evil.”

          SonicFox has made a significant name for themselves in the FGC over the years. They’re a five-time EVO champion and have claimed first-place victories in numerous events across Dragon Ball FighterZ, Mortal Kombat, and Injustice 2. The player previously competed under Echo Fox alongside dekillsage before the organization dissolved earlier this year.

          While dekillsage primarily competes in Dragon Ball FighterZ, the player has been a force to contend with at several majors over the last year. These include Red Bull Japan and Red Bull Spain, where he finished fourth and third, respectively. Incidentally, it was SonicFox who went on to place first at the Spain event. This was after besting dekillsage 3 to 1 in the losers finals.

          Although the two can fend for themselves as FGC powerhouses, seeing them team up yet again will surely strengthen EG’s stance in the community. “We’ve always been a home to legends, so it’s only fitting we welcome true champions: SonicFox and their duo dekillsage,” the organization wrote.

          What’s your favorite fighting game? Let us know in the comments, and keep your eye on Daily Esports for all your FGC updates.

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      • Last Of Us Part 2 crunch and staff burnout caused delay says former staff

        Naughty Dog’s Last Of Us Part 2 may end up being a great game, but it will come at a considerable cost to its developers.

        One subject that continues to plague the games industry, particularly in the triple-A space, is crunch – where developers must work extra-long hours, often unpaid, in order to finish a product in time for release, even if it’s at the cost of their health.

        Over the last several years, this practice has become more and more public, with companies like Rockstar being called out for it its use during Red Dead Redemption 2’s development (one of our readers even elected to boycott it as a result).

        This year, CD Projekt Red admitted that it would have to enforce crunch for Cyberpunk 2077, which had to be delayed from April to September. And following a new report from Kotaku (which can be read in full here), we now know that Naughty Dog has been subjecting its staff to it for The Last Of Us Part 2.

        The report describes Naughty Dog as a studio of two halves; one that is simultaneously one of the best companies to work for and one of the worst. Due to the success of such critically acclaimed titles as Uncharted 4 and the first Last Of Us, Naughty Dog comes across as being obsessed with perfection, eager to make its games the best they can be no matter what.

        ‘Thisgame is really good, but at a huge cost to the people,’ said one anonymousdeveloper.

        ‘This can’t be something that’s continuing over and over for each game, because it is unsustainable,’ said another, ‘At a certain point you realise, ‘I can’t keep doing this. I’m getting older. I can’t stay and work all night.’’

        A number of former developers have also criticised Naughty Dog’s work ethic. ‘They do try to take care of you, providing food, encouragement to go take breaks’ one admitted, ‘But for the most part, the implication is: ‘Get the job done at all costs.’’

        Following Uncharted 4’s release, 14 of the 20 credited non-lead developers left the studio (that’s 70%), most likely due to the stress and pressure brought on from development. This in turn has affected Last Of Us Part 2’s development, and seems to have only created a vicious cycle.

        Former Last Of Us Part 2 animator Jonathan Cooper shared his own experiences in a pretty damning set of tweets, saying that while he was fortunate enough to never experience crunch, he knew it was happening elsewhere.

        ‘Forthe demo shown last September, the gameplay animators crunched more than I’veever seen and required weeks of recovery afterwards. One good friend of minewas hospitalised at that time due to overwork. He still had over half a year togo. There have been others since.

        ‘Thereason I left is because I only want to work with the best. That is no longerNaughty Dog. Their reputation for crunch within LA is so bad it was nearimpossible to hire seasoned contract game animators to close out the project.As such we loaded up on film animators.’

        He also added that Naughty Dog had threatened to withhold his final payment until he signed paperwork that stated that he would not share the company’s production practices, until he told them that that was most likely illegal.

        On top of that, he wrote that Naughty Dog’s success was partly because of Sony and its willingness to fund delays: ‘A more senior team would have shipped TLOU2 a year ago.’

        Despite Naughty Dog’s previous openness about crunch, Kotaku approached both Naughty Dog and Sony to interview studio management but a representative turned down the request and declined to comment on the report.

        Someof its developers have admitted that they hope Last Of Us Part 2 will fail,disproving Naughty Dog’s belief that crunch is necessary to make its titles theGame Of The Year quality that it has come to expect.

        However, this is very unlikely to happen given the mainstream hype surrounding the title. And unless something else drastic happens, or there’s a significant change, there’s a very real possibility that this cycle will just begin all over again with their next game.

        https://youtube.com/watch?v=XvG-EpPoCCA%3Fversion%3D3%26rel%3D1%26fs%3D1%26autohide%3D2%26showsearch%3D0%26showinfo%3D1%26iv_load_policy%3D1%26wmode%3Dtransparent

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        SpotOn Raises $50 Million in Series B Funding from Former Twitter Executives

        The payments and software company will increase investment in product development to continue building end-to-end vertical solutions and accelerating hiring across all functions

        SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–March 11, 2020–

        SpotOn Transact, Inc (“SpotOn”), an innovative payments and software company, today announced $50 million in Series B funding. The round includes 01 Advisors, an investment and advisory firm founded by Twitter’s former CEO Dick Costolo, former COO Adam Bain and former Corporate Development and Investor Relations executive David Rivinus, as well as returning investors Dragoneer Investment Group, Franklin Templeton and EPIQ Capital Group. This new funding follows a year in which SpotOn increased its revenue by over 150%. The company has continued that momentum in 2020 by adding over 5,000 clients already.

        This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200311005224/en/

        From left: RJ Horsley, Zach Hyman, Matt Hyman and Doron Friedman (Photo: Business Wire)

        Focused on empowering small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) by providing enterprise-level solutions at affordable prices, the SpotOn ecosystem goes way beyond traditional payment processing and point-of-sale (POS) software. SpotOn integrates payments capabilities with POS and software tools to create customized, end-to-end solutions to fit any type of business. These include marketing, website development, appointment scheduling, digital loyalty, review management, and both retail and restaurant POS solutions.

        “There are companies that build great products, and there are companies that build great sales teams, but it’s rare to find an organization that can do both,” said Dick Costolo, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of 01 Advisors. “SpotOn has proven an unwavering commitment to building products that matter and getting them into the hands of businesses nationwide.”

        The $50 million in funding will be used to continue SpotOn’s investment into product development building solutions for specific verticals. This strategy builds on the tremendous success the company had this past year focusing on the food and beverage industry. SpotOn recently announced its Restaurant Advisory Board aimed at harnessing the expertise of world-class restaurateurs and has tripled the development team to further enhance the SpotOn Restaurant solution.

        “Businesses need help navigating the digital shift in commerce, whether that’s utilizing new payment methods, leveraging actionable data or taking advantage of new mediums to communicate with their customers,” stated Zach Hyman, Co-Founder of SpotOn. “Business owners are rapidly selecting SpotOn as their go-to technology partner, and we’re excited to continue building SpotOn into a household name within the business community and beyond.”

        SpotOn is headquartered in San Francisco with expanding product, technology and operations teams in Chicago, Detroit and Denver, as well as newly opened offices in Mexico City, Mexico and Krakow, Poland. To support accelerating demand for its solutions, SpotOn now employs over 850 people and is aggressively hiring. Candidates interested in joining the SpotOn team can find more information on career opportunities here.

        About SpotOn Transact, Inc

        SpotOn Transact, Inc (“SpotOn”) is a cutting-edge software and payments company that has redefined the merchant services industry. SpotOn’s software and payments platform empowers all kinds of businesses to run their businesses-from building a brand to taking payments and everything in-between. The SpotOn platform incorporates tools which include payment processing, point-of-sale, custom websites, scheduling software, marketing, reviews, analytics and loyalty – all backed by industry-leading customer care. For more information, visit www.spoton.com.

        View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200311005224/en/

        Media Contact:
        Lauren Tascan for SpotOn Transact, Inc
        [email protected]
        514-867-5050

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        Destiny 2 ARG Puzzle Finally Solved After 2 Years

        Two years after it was first added into the game, a Destiny 2 player has finally solved the final portion of the Rasputin ARG puzzle. Two of the three cyphers were discovered when the puzzle was first launched, but the final leg remained a mystery to the Destiny community until now.

        Twitter users, Javano and Bachmanetti worked together to solve the puzzle and posted the solution. The duo discovered the answer by online using a diamond icon as clue, and knowing that some sort of weapon was involved. Bachamanetti realized the diamond icon resembled the reticle of the Sleeper Stimunlant, an exotic weapon introduced in Warmwind.

        After making this discovery, Bachmanetti headed into Destiny 2 and found a connection between the diamond, the Sleeper Stimulant, and a warning sign located on Mars. Within 5 minutes of making this connection, the puzzle was finally solved and the Destiny  community rejoiced.

        Javano shared the back and forth conversation that took place between the two players, providing a timeline for how they went about solving the puzzle. They then jokingly tweeted at Vicarious Visions asking if there were any Warmwind coins left lying around, which were used as a reward for the original puzzles. There weren’t.

        This discovery brings back memories of a different long hidden easter egg within another one of Bungie’s games, Halo 3. Back in 2014, a player discovered the game’s final secret 7 years after its release. When you press both joysticks during the loading screen on Christmas Day, you’ll be given a wider angle of the Halo ring, along with the message, “Happy Birthday Lauren!”

        Easter eggs have been around almost as long as video games, and it’s always fun to discover secrets that have been hidden in games by the developers themselves. While some might come a bit easier, others, such as the final answer to the Rasputin ARG, and the hidden Halo loading screen message, might take players years to find.

        In other Destiny news, the game was recently revamped last year. If you haven’t played it in quite a while, you might be pleasantly surprised by just how much better it has gotten. On top of that, Bungie has hinted that Destiny 3 is in the works and could be out some time in 2021.

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