After using the jumbo Roccat Kone Aimo for a couple of weeks at the end of last year, Steelseries’ Rival 110 comes as quite a relief. Not only is it a much more petite kind of mouse that’s infinitely better suited to the overall size of my hand, but it’s also significantly lighter and easier […]

The MOBA genre has grown exponentially since League of Legends and DOTA 2, each new take on the genre riding on a few new features and a unique style. Hyper Universe is taking the genre to an entirely new plane by turning it into a side-scrolling brawler but with all the usual fixingsMOBAs have to offer, including minions, turrets, and unique champions called Hypers. The developers have ironed out the kinks and will be going live and free-to-play when it launches later this month on January 17.

Anyone that has gotten their hands on the Early Access version of the game will have a lot to get excited forat launch. A major update will hit and it will include six new Hypers: Tae-guk, Sonya, Perseus, Han, Camilla, and Gulunbabringing the total to 41.

“Since releasing through Steam’s Early Access program this past August, the development team carefully reviewed all player feedback, implementing wide-ranging gameplay changes,” said Jungsoo Lee, General Manager of Nexon America, in the press release for the announcement. “We want to thank our passionate and dedicated community for their hard work to help shape the development of this game and we eagerly await their response when it goes live for everyone later this month.”

In addition to the news of the launch, Nexon America is starting a new even that rewards Hyper Universe players for sharing the game's new trailer on Facebook. 150 shares earns one Hyper coupon, 250 earns three, and 400 shares will earn a coupon to unlock a character's skin. Rules and information for the event can be found on the Hyper Universe Facebook page.

Hyper Universe will be available on PC viaSteam and the Nexon website.

PlatinumGames, the makers of such wonderful games as Bayonetta and Nier: Automata, are looking into making and self-publishing games of their own. While they’re not announcing any specific games just yet, Platinum say they invited all staff to pitch ideas and have whittled 70-odd submitted design documents down to two ideas they’re focusing on. Yes, […]

Amidst the holidays, things have been somewhat quiet on the Destiny 2 front. However, we're set to get a small update this week along with a batch of server maintenance that will render the game unplayable for a period of time on Wednesday, Bungie has announced. [Update: Destiny 2's maintenance is officially underway.]

The maintenance period will follow a similar pattern to those we've seen in the past. On Wednesday, January 3, at 7 AM PT / 10 AM ET / 3 PM GMT (2 AM AET on January 4), maintenance will begin, at which point players will no longer be able to log in on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. An hour later, everyone who was playing when maintenance began will be booted offline. Bungie expects maintenance to conclude at 12 PM PT, although, as always, that is merely an estimate.

At the same time that Bungie wraps up maintenance, it will release a new update, hotfix 1.1.1.2. The studio has not explained what this update will do, but these hotfixes tend to focus on bug fixes and other minor improvements, so you shouldn't expect any major new features to be introduced. We do know there is a lingering exploit involving the Warlock's Voidwalker Super ability in the Mayhem Crucible mode, but Bungie previously said that would not be fixed before the ongoing Dawning event comes to an end on January 9.

The Dawning has introduced a ton of new items to Destiny 2, though the easiest way to obtain them is through Eververse purchases with real money. For a look at what you can get, you can check out our gallery of all the new Dawning armor and gear. Even if you're not interested in paying for any of the content, there are still some new things to do, such as checking out the aforementioned Mayhem mode.

Platinum Games, the company behind action titles like Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and Nier: Automata, has a number of projects in the works right now. We already know the company is making Bayonetta 3 for Nintendo Switch and co-developing Lost Order and Granblue Fantasy Project Re: Link for mobile and PlayStation 4, respectively, but it seems there are even more projects on the way.

The company's head of development, Atsushi Inaba, told Game Informer that Platinum is in the initial stages of planning a further two projects: "We've pretty much opened the company up to 'Anybody can pitch a game,' and so over the last year we've gotten about 70 design documents from different people," Inaba said. "So [2017 was] about us basically diluting which stuff we wanted to focus on and not focus on, and drilling down to the point where we now have two designs that we're genuinely focused on."

He continued: "We can't put together a AAA, $10 million-plus game, because we just don't have that sort of cash as an independent developer. However, we don't plan to go the indies route with just a few people on a team making a game, so it'll be somewhere in the middle, looking at probably about 20 people on the staff making the game, so that'll still be a healthy [size]."

Inaba also stated that Platinum is looking to self-publish more of its games going forward--every one of its games so far have been published by other companies. "One of the things Platinum is focused on is we're looking into creating our own IP, creating our own game," he said. "Up until now, obviously we've worked on original IPs for a wide variety of publishers. We've also worked on other Hollywood IPs for other publishers as well. But we're becoming more and more interested in the idea of self-publishing and doing our own title."

However, Inaba says this doesn't mean the end of Platinum working on other companies' franchises: "We will continue to do AAA games for other publishers and that's because, again, we don't have the cash flow to take on the risk to only do self-published games."

Bayonetta 3 will be published by Nintendo, but we don't yet know a release date. Until recently, Platinum was also working on a game for Xbox One. However, Microsoft canceled Scalebound, saying the move would be "better for Xbox gamers."

Platinum's most recent game was the PS4 and PC exclusive Nier: Automata, which we said was the #10 best game of the year in 2017. For more, check out our Nier: Automata review.

Overwatch, aka The Shooter You Proposed To In A Fit Of Passionate Desperation And Who Rejected You, has had its 2018 plans roughly drawn onto a napkin by game director Jeff Kaplan. By that I mean there’s been another developer update video. The 27th hero is going through “internal testing”, he says, but we are […]
While I’m not interested in Fortnite Battle Royale‘s arcade-y take on 100-player murderfests, I do like the look of some of the special event modes that developers Epic Games have tried. Fraser Brown enjoyed its 50v50 mode, and the next sounds… well, it sounds quiet. To celebrate this week’s addition of a silenced pistol, over […]

Regular updates to Grand Theft Auto V continue in 2018. Although the first weekly update of the year is not a massive one, Rockstar has released a cool new vehicle and announced some new discounts and extended bonuses that may get you to boot up the game on PS4, Xbox One, or PC.

GTA V's newest car is a rally vehicle, the Annis Savestra Sports Classic. It's available now through Legendary Motorsport, and while it looks to be a worthwhile ride on its own, it can get even better. Those with access to an Avenger or Mobile Operations Center have some optional upgrades for the Savestra, including mounted machine guns.

If you don't yet own a MOC, you can pick up the cab for 50% off its regular price from now through January 8. You can get also get 30% off the Coil Cyclone or Grotti Visione, or 25% off the Ocelot Ardent (a weaponized vehicle), the FH-1 Hunter helicopter, P-45 Nokota plane, and HVY APC (another weaponized vehicle). In the case of the latter three, the discount applies to both the buy-it-now and trade prices.

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On the bonus side, Adversary modes Slashers and Occupy are awarding players with double GTA$ and RP until January 8. The Premium Stunt Race is Duel, with a restriction to Muscle-class vehicles, while the Time Trail is Up N Atom. The Premium Race hands out big GTA$ payouts to the top three finishers, while everyone gets Triple RP. The Time Trial offers GTA$ and RP for those who can beat the target time.

We're in the last week of Sony's big holiday sale, and the PS Store is also releasing its first set of new weekly PSN deals for PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation 3. Most of the sales start today and go until the middle of the month (you should check each specific offer to be sure of its end date).

There are deals on a duo of expanded editions for PS4 players: the Diablo III Eternal Collection is half off, available now for $30, and the deluxe edition of Tekken 7 is $46.74. Dark Souls III, also for PS4, is a good deal at $21, Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is $16, Dragon Ball Xenoverse is $10, and you can pick up Firewatch for just $8. If you have a PSVR, Batman: Arkham VR is on sale for $12.

There are also a bunch of Resident Evil games on sale for PS4. Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil 6, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, and Resident Evil 0 are all on special right now. Meanwhile, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is on sale for all systems: you can get it for $24 on PS4, $16 on Vita, and $20 on PS3.

PS3 players can also pick up the Digital Pro Edition of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare for $36, with the Gold Edition being available for just $20. There are other Call of Duty deals, including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 for $35 and the Gold Edition of Call of Duty: Ghosts for $20. Meanwhile for PS Vita, you can get Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified for $13.59. You can find the full list of deals available now on the PlayStation Store.

2017 saw the launch of Destiny 2... and then plenty of downtime on a near-weekly schedule.

There were many, many things for Bungie to fix, of course, and few would argue that many more changes to Destiny 2 are not still needed.

And so the first changes of 2018 arrive today, when Destiny 2 will be brought offline from 7am-midday Bungie time AKA 3pm until 8pm here in the UK.

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Imaging What A New Diddy Kong Racing Might Look Like

Diddy Kong Racing for the N64 was never able to escape that long shadow cast by Mario Kart. While the game got a remake for the DS, it never got a true successor. And if we’re being honest, it probably never will. Fortunately there’s a fan video to help fill the void left by its eternal absence.

Read more...

Foreign governments are granting Trump projects big favors to get what they want from...

President Donald Trump purportedly stepped away from his business interests for the duration of his term as president, but Vanity Fair‘s Tina Nguyen says that foreign governments are granting favors and greasing the wheels for Trump-branded projects around the world.

Anita Kumar at McClatchy reported that the Indonesian government has chosen to build a new road to shorten the drive between the island chain’s main airport and the new Trump golf resort.

In Panama, the national government directly intervened in a lagging sewer project connected to the new Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City. The original contractor tasked with constructing the system went bankrupt, prompting the government to use its own money to construct sewage and water pipes connecting to the resort hotel.

“And in other countries,” Kumar wrote, “governments have donated public land, approved permits and eased environmental regulations for Trump-branded developments, creating a slew of potential conflicts as foreign leaders make investments that can be seen as gifts or attempts to gain access to the American president through his sprawling business empire.”

As Nguyen noted, all of this appears to place Trump squarely in violation of the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts or anything that might be constituted as a bribe from foreign governments.

However, she said, “Just weeks after Trump won the election, the Argentinian government suddenly granted a permit for a long-delayed Trump Tower development in Buenos Aires. In September, Trump’s Middle Eastern business partners granted a company partially owned by the Chinese government a contract to build a road to Trump World Golf Club in Dubai, seemingly going against his pledge to not engage in foreign business transactions during his presidency. And, of course, there is the ongoing constitutional crisis that is the Trump International Hotel Washington D.C., which critics claim violates the Emoluments Clause on a regular basis.”

Two lawsuits have been brought against the Trump administration alleging these violations, one of which was dismissed by a judge just before Christmas.

Kumar spoke with Noah Bookbinder of the Committee for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), who said, “If you have a foreign government providing a benefit to the Trump company that is going to violate emoluments clause of the Constitution.”

The president is reportedly receiving boons to his projects — which he claims he handed over to the management of his sons, Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump — from the governments of Uruguay, India and the Philippines.

Read the full McClatchy report here.

Mormon leader Thomas Monson dies aged 90

Thomas S Monson, who served in top leadership councils for the Mormon church for 50 years and became its president in 2008, has died. He was 90.

Monson was a church bishop at 22 and in 1963 the Salt Lake City native became the youngest church apostle ever, at 36. He was a counselor for three church presidents before assuming leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monson died at his home in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, according to church spokesman Eric Hawkins. The next president was not immediately named, but the job is expected to go to next longest-tenured member of the church’s governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Russell M Nelson, 93, per church protocol.

Monson’s presidency was marked by his noticeably low profile during a time of intense publicity, including the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns of Mormon Mitt Romney. His most public acts were appearances at church conferences and devotionals as well as dedications of church temples.

He will be remembered for continuing the religion’s push to be more transparent about its past; his emphasis on humanitarian work; and lowering the minimum age for missionaries.

He will also be remembered for leading the faith’s involvement in the passage of a gay marriage ban in California in 2008. At his urging, Mormons were vigorous campaign donors and volunteers. That prompted a backlash against the church that included vandalism of church buildings, protest marches and demonstrations outside church temples nationwide.

In subsequent years, the church began utilizing a softer tone on the issue. In 2015, the church backed an anti-discrimination law in Utah that gave unprecedented protections for gay and transgender people while also protecting religious freedoms.

But the religion came under fire again in the fall of 2015 when it banned baptisms for children living with gay parents and instituted a requirement that those children disavow homosexual relationships before being allowed to serve a mission. The changes were designed to avoid putting children in a tug-of-war between their parents and church teachings, leaders said.

Thomas Monson attends a corner stone laying ceremony at the dedication of the Draper Utah Temple in Draper, Utah, in 2009.
Thomas Monson attends a corner stone laying ceremony at the Draper Utah Temple in Draper, Utah, in 2009. Photograph: George Frey/Reuters

The revisions triggered anger, confusion and sadness for a growing faction of LGBTQ-supportive Mormons who were buoyed in recent years by church leaders’ calls for more love and understanding for LGBTQ members.

Monson also continued the church’s push to be more open about some of the most sensitive aspect of the faith’s history and doctrine. A renovated church history museum reopened in 2015 with an exhibit acknowledging the religion’s early polygamous practices, a year after the church published an essay that for the first time chronicled founder Joseph Smith’s plural wives.

Other church essays issued during Monson’s tenure addressed other sensitive topics: sacred undergarments worn by devout members; a past ban on black men in the lay clergy; and the misconception that Mormons are taught they will get their own planet in the afterlife.

The growth and globalization of the religion continued under Monson, with membership swelling to nearly 15.9 million, with more than half outside the US. There were 71,000 church missionaries serving around the world at the end of 2016.

Mormons considered Monson a warm, caring, endearing and approachable leader, said Patrick Mason, associate professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University in California.

He put an emphasis on the humanitarian ethic of Mormons, evidenced by his expansion of the church’s disaster relief programs around the world, said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University.

Monson often credited his mother, Gladys Condie Monson, for fostering his compassion. He said that during his childhood in the Depression of the 1930s their house in Salt Lake City was known to hobos riding the railroads as a place to get a meal and a kind word.

“President Monson always seemed more interested in what we do with our religion rather than in what we believe,” Mauss said.

A second world war veteran, Monson served in the navy and spent a year overseas before returning to get a business degree at the University of Utah and a master’s degree in business administration from the church-owned Brigham Young University.

Before being tabbed to join the church’s governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Monson worked for the church’s secular businesses, primarily in advertising, printing and publishing including the Deseret Morning News.

He married Frances Beverly Johnson in 1948. The couple had three children, eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Frances died in 2013 at the age of 85.

Monson was an avid fisherman who also raised homing pigeons, specifically, roller pigeons who twirled as they flew. He was known for his love of show tunes, Boy Scouts and the Utah Jazz.

The man expected to take Monson’s seat, the 93-year-old Nelson, has been a church apostle since April 1970. Nelson will choose two new counselors from the Quorum of the Twelve who will join him to form a three-person “presidency” that is the top of the religion’s governing hierarchy. Monson’s two counselors were Henry Eyring and Dieter Uchtdorf. They will go back to being regular members of the Quorum unless they are chosen again.

A Fixer Upper Cast Member Admits the House Isn’t Always Done on Reveal Day...

Crafty home blogger, mom, and Fixer Upper expert Rachel Teodoro is at it again with her great research into

How Donald Trump’s war on intelligence is destroying American national security

President Donald Trump’s insecurity over losing the popular vote and the salacious allegations in the Steele Dossier have prompted him to lash out at the intelligence community’s claims that Russia influenced the 2016 election. Now that war against the intelligence community is impacting American national security.

A Wednesday Washington Postreport revealed that the National Security Agency is hemorrhaging staff at an alarming rate. Some of these “highly skilled” staffers have become “disillusioned” with intelligence but the leadership and a reorganization effort under the new administration has sent many to update their resumes.

The work these experts do included monitoring a broad array of subjects including the Islamic State, Russian and North Korean hackers, and analyzing the intentions of foreign governments, and they were responsible for protecting the classified networks that carry such sensitive information. Yet, these staffers saying that they want a higher-paying job in the private sector or more flexible hours.

Since 2015, hundreds of hackers, engineers and data scientists have bailed on the NSA, former officials said. Now it’s reaching a level that national security can be impacted. Of the 17 spy agencies, the NSA is the largest and they’re responsible for collecting the information that goes into the presidential daily briefing that Trump doesn’t understand. Over the first year in office, aides have even been forced to tailor the briefing so it doesn’t include anything about Russian interference in the election so as to not anger Trump.

“Some synonym of the word ‘epidemic’ is the best way to describe it,” said former NSA senior researcher Ellison Anne Williams. She left her job at the NSA in 2016 to start her own data-security firm and took 10 NSA staff with her. “The agency is losing an amazing amount of its strongest technical talent, and to lose your best and brightest staff is a huge hit.”

The agency won’t disclose the number of vacancies over the last year, but it said there is 5.6 percent decrease in staff who specialize in science, technology and math. The NSA isn’t the only place the Trump administration has implemented the right-wing war on science. In Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency, scientists became the enemy. Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was told never to say the words “climate change.” Losing the experts means new staff are filling the positions without the experience central to the NSA’s mission collecting huge swaths of data and analyzing it.

Former staff have complained that they felt their mission was marginalized by a restructuring of the agency. Others allege the reorganization was “an enormous distraction.” Some even call the pay structure and promotion program part of the problem. According to former staff, it prioritizes seniority over experience or expertise.

Another former employee alleged that the problems began with former contractor Edward Snowden and the arrest of former contractor Harold T. Martin III in 2016. Accessing data and information became more difficult for those trying to do their jobs. The witch hunt searching for leakers made things worse. An environment with collaboration has turned toward suspicion, a former staffer said.

“It comes down to death by a thousand cuts,” said a former employee, adding that people “tend to quit in packs. One person hits their breaking point, and once they leave, the dominoes start falling.”

NSA spokesman Tommy Groves didn’t discount the reports.

“If the price of security becomes that we drive away the very men and women that generate value in the first place, we now have a self-induced mission kill,” National Security Agency Director Administrator Michael Rogers said in a conference speech.

Trump’s attacks on the 17 intelligence agencies that confirmed the Russian interference couldn’t have made morale any better. After meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump swore that Russia didn’t do it.

“He said he didn’t meddle, he said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters in November. “Every time he sees me he says I didn’t do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”

Trump has also waged a war with the FBI, calling it “tainted” and alleging it is part of the “deep state” shadow government.

“It is also a possible obstruction of justice, witness intimidation, and it’s obstructing justice by saying to agents, ‘you better not dig too deep, you better not find anything because I will attack you,'” former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks said to MSNBC.

The only way to maintain staff is to tape into the sense of duty “for God and country,” said former threat operations center chief Daniel Ennis. He thinks the agency will recover, because it always has.