‘Armello’ Review – Kill the King, He’ll Rule no More

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Armello [Free] from League of Geeks is a game of options, and figuring out how to deal with your opponents. You and three other opponents take turns in a day-night cycle, all the while the King of Armello is dying from corruption by the Rot. Then, this becomes a game of plotting, intrigue, and even potential alliances in the game’s online multiplayer mode. The fun comes from being devious, and watching as your glorious plan starts to come together.

Armello offers several ways to win the game that provide different strategies for playing. Let’s say you decide to go for the prestige victory, which you earn from killing heroes, killing Banes, by completing quests, or through cards. Now, a prestige victory means nothing if somebody kills the king, so you’ll want to make sure nobody goes and does that. Spells and abilities that weaken players, along with making king’s rulings that can also do that or can hinder those storming the castle gates will help out. Ultimately, you’re trying to be the clubhouse leader when someone goes to kill the king, or you make it so that nobody can even try to kill them.

Meanwhile, killing the king comes with its own set of risks. The king is easier to kill when he’s at low health, but making your way into the palace is difficult because of the perils that surround the king’s tile. These perils require matching four symbols, so you need some luck, or a good selection of cards and a high spirit count, in order to even get in the king’s face. And if you clear a palace peril and fail, well, then you might have just opened up the window for someone else. But, this is the easiest way to just ensure that you get the win when you’re ready for it.

Or you could go for a Spirit Stones victory. You will have to approach the king, but this is an instant win since it purifies the king of his corruption without going into a dice battle. The tricky part is picking up all the Spirit Stones, as they appear randomly on the map, and you might not win them through tests when you complete an objective. Also, when players start to see that you have these stones, they will get concerned. Of course, you could also fake them out, as Spirit Stones can kill a Bane without going into combat, and this becomes an easy way to rack up the Prestige, while leaving opponents on edge as to what you might do.

The Rot victory is the hardest, because it involves killing the king, but also picking up a lot of Rot to corrupt yourself, and then out-corrupting the king. before killing him. However, it winds up being a way to kind of flip the board on opponents, as you don’t get attacked by Banes, but it also can telegraph your victory method. However, if the circumstances present themselves to where you can gain a lot of Rot, it’s worth going for.

There’s a whole lot of emergent gameplay that arises from Armello‘s randomness and from these different strategies. You can have low-scoring defensive slogs if people keep killing each other, or matches where players ignore each other and go for their own business before only interacting with each other in the most cursory ways. It all comes down to how each player sees the circumstances ahead of them, and wishes to play the game for themselves. There’s a lot to keep track of in Armello, particularly since the stats aren’t always self-explanatory, and there’s a lot of symbols and the day-night system that you have to track. Studying and learning how Armello‘s different systems work is key.

Armello monetizes in a unique way, where you can just unlock everything with a one-time subscription, or pay piecemeal for items with in-game currency. The subscription costs $ 5.99 per month, $ 13.99 per 3 months, or $ 35.99 per year. This unlocks all heroes, skins, the bandit clan, seasonal board skins, all the premium dice, and all the novellas explaining the game’s story. It also comes with a 10% discount on additional chests.

On the one hand, I totally understand why League of Geeks used this model: selling premium games on the App Store is rough. There’s a reason why this appeared on PC first, after all. There’s something that leaves me uncomfortable with paying a subscription for just one game to unlock everything, but that seems irrational. You can just pay for access to the game for as long as you want. I think it’s the idea of paying but losing access to content if you stop paying. Of course, that works for Netflix, I suppose. I wonder if a business model like Fortnite‘s Battle Pass would work, where you can unlock items permanently while ‘subscribed’ would work? Pay for the subscription to keep unlocking new content that gets released over time.

Of course, I can also understand why League of Geeks would want to just go with this model, especially since the studio is so prolific at releasing new content and DLC, this makes more sense for the mobile market. And any complaints about Armello as a business model ignore that the base game is rather generous for a free offering on the App Store. You get just the base characters for free, but can play as many single- or multiplayer games as you want without paying. Items and characters can change your strategy as you unlock them, but you basically get the game, and can play with other people, for absolutely no cost.

The mobile adaptation works well, and you can easily save a singleplayer game and come back to it later. Much like how certain in-game elements aren’t always apparent, the interface is a bit convoluted, especially with navigating the shop and figuring out how things work. I wish there was an undo move button, as I have accidentally moved when I didn’t want to a few times while playing. Also, there’s a weird fog of war that appears when zooming all the way out on the iPad Air 2 that makes getting a wider view of the battlefield difficult. It can be tough to see where every character is on the board, unless they’re hidden by forest.

Armello‘s prologue does help explain many of the elements of the game, and sets up the stories about the four clans in play, but I feel like it holds the player’s hand a bit too much and doesn’t let them learn how the game plays for themselves. Once you get into a game, things become a lot more apparent, though there is still some learning to do.

While the free download nature of Armello makes it easy to say “just go download it, it’s free and you can try it for yourself,” I think that it’s good to know that there is a lot of depth and emergent gameplay here if you do decide to sink your teeth in for yourself over time. And this kind of release is a must-have if only because you can go online and play against your friends for free. You might not have all the characters unlocked, but the same core game is available to everyone for free. Armello ain’t perfect, but it’s worth your time to experiment and see if you like it, and then you can spend as much or as little as you want to keep enjoying it.

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[Hell hath frozen over] Amazon releases Prime Video app for Android TV

What a world we live in. After Amazon and Google’s long-lasting row of we won’t sell your products and you won’t get our services, the last straw seems to have been pulled when Google disabled YouTube on some of Amazon’s products. Now Amazon is trying to make up a little by selling Chromecasts again (while nefariously plotting something with Amazontube?) and the second step appears to be by making Amazon Prime Video available on Android TV devices.

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[Hell hath frozen over] Amazon releases Prime Video app for Android TV was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Here’s a List of Everything Elon Musk Says He’ll Do by 2030

Elon Musk: A Man of Many Dreams

To say that billionaire tech-preneur Elon Musk is a busy man would be an understatement. Musk finds himself at the helm of a number of companies, each of which have goals firmly set on the future.

To bring electric autonomous vehicles (EAVs) and renewable energy solutions forward, he has Tesla. To give humankind a chance at becoming a multi-planetary species, there’s SpaceX. To transform transportation — and build better tunnels — he’s working with the Boring Company. To have a hand at the conscientious development of artificial intelligence (AI), he’s involved with OpenAI. And, lastly, to augment the human brain’s capabilities, he’s put up Neuralink.

It’s easy to get lost with so many multifarious goals that Musk has across this smorgasbord of companies, so let’s put these down in a list; Here’s what Musk plans to achieve by 2030:

A Timeline of Projects

2017: Quite a number of the goals Musk set for his many endeavors look at the really near future, as close as 100 days in fact when it comes to building the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in Australia. Musk said back in March that he’s planning to complete the battery in just a hundred days, or else it’ll be free.

The countdown officially started in September, which puts 100 days in a little over three months. However, by the end of September, construction was already half done. Meanwhile, Musk has promised to begin deliveries of Tesla’s improved SolarRoofs by the end of 2017.

elon musk tesla spacex boring company
Image Credit: Tesla


2018
: What’s possibly on top of Musk’s priorities is getting the Model 3 production on track. The goal now is to hit 5,000 cars per month by March 2018. With some set-backs in production, it’s difficult to say if Tesla would actually reach its goal. Around the same time, Tesla has promised updates to their Autopilot self-driving car software, which would purportedly bring their autonomous vehicles a step closer to reaching Level-5 autonomy before 2020. Back in Australia, a solar and wind farm project where Tesla would be providing Powerpacks is expected to be finished by 2018.

2019: Exciting things lie ahead this year. The recently unveiled Tesla electric semi, though scarce on details, is slated to begin production by 2019. Around this time, between October 2018 to April 2019, Tesla will also unveil an electric pickup truck. Also in the same year, a long-been-hinted-at compact SUV called the Model Y would supposedly be launched, as well as a Tesla flying car dubbed the Model F.

Then there’s the Boring Company’s tunnel under Los Angeles. Although Musk hasn’t exactly revealed a concrete timetable for it, we can assume that — with the rate of work being done and approvals from local authorities having been given — this advanced tunnel transportation system could be completed and could become operational within the next couple of years.

2020: Some three years down the road, Musk’s plans get even bigger. For starters, the Tesla Roadster 2.0, which has been unveiled as a surprise this November, is set for a 2020 release. Then, if all went well with the Model 3 production, Tesla should be producing one million of these EVs per year by 2020.

Also by this year, Tesla’s EVs would supposedly have reached a range of 1,000 kilometers on a single charge. Add to this are plans for a Tesla fleet mobility service.

2021: Musk might narrowly complete a Tesla gigafactory in China around 2020, which would begin EV production by 2021. The plans to build a manufacturing plant in China goes hand-in-hand with the country’s efforts to have more EVs on the roads by 2030. Together with a gigafactory, Tesla also plans to put up 1,000 superchargers in China.

2022: Perhaps the biggest moment for Musk would come in 2022, with the first planned cargo mission to Mars aboard the revamped BFR. The new reusable rocket would become the standard for SpaceX missions, in an effort to bring down the costs of space travel.

2024: Two years later, Elon Musk plans to send the first crewed mission to the red planet. At some point between 2022 and 2024, SpaceX might also launch a new kind of city-to-city transport aboard an earth-to-earth version of the BFR.

2030 and Beyond

Elon Musk also has a number of other projects that don’t yet have a definite timetable, or at least none have been made public. On top of these is the Hyperloop, which Musk decided would be something either Tesla or SpaceX would be more involved with. Another project that’s currently in its earliest stages of development is the Neuralink, Musk’s attempts to merge the human brain with AI.

So, Musk has a lot on his plate. We could expect a few stumbles along the way, but for someone who is quite familiar with criticism, cynicism, and skepticism like Musk on the helm, we’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by the multitude of plans he completes by deadline.

The post Here’s a List of Everything Elon Musk Says He’ll Do by 2030 appeared first on Futurism.

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Judge dismisses lawsuit over Uber’s ‘Hell’ program

A US District Court judge in California dismissed a class action lawsuit against Uber by a former Lyft driver over the company’s “Hell” program, which it allegedly used between 2014 and 2016 to track drivers of the rival service.

The “Hell” program was first revealed by The Information back in April. With it, Uber allegedly created fake Lyft rider accounts that then let them track how many drivers were available on the service in different areas. Uber was then able to use this information to deploy its own drivers to areas underserved by Lyft on a real-time basis.

Uber also allegedly used “Hell” to find Lyft drivers who split their time driving for Uber, and used that information to offer those drivers incentives to drop Lyft…

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If Whitman becomes Uber’s CEO, Kalanick will be limited to a ‘founder’ role, though he’ll still be tapped for expertise and vision

The longtime Silicon Valley exec also wants a rejiggered board and wide latitude over management choices.

To say Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman has the board of Uber over a barrel now that former General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt pulled out of its highly dysfunctional CEO search effort this morning is perhaps too much.

Let’s just say that she’s driving the car, deciding on the route and not paying for the gas. This, even though she has not formally presented her vision to the board or even re-entered the process.

While sources close to the board insist that it remains a two-way CEO race — there is apparently another candidate who is still unnamed — others think Whitman is now in a pole position to extract a lot from Uber’s directors.

That’s even though she had publicly said she did not want the job two weeks ago in a tweet and in an interview. She had initially very much wanted the job and Uber was very much interested in her, especially because it has wanted to appoint a female CEO.

That’s due to the reports of widespread sexism and some sexual harassment under the leadership of ousted CEO Travis Kalanick, which was borne out by a recent investigation by the board.

Whitman was nervous about that, as well as the possibility of more undiscovered problems at the company. “It’s one thing to have hair, but this company is a hairball,” said a source, reflecting a common issue for everyone who has thought about making a bid for the CEO role at Uber.

After news of Whitman’s candidacy leaked out — here and elsewhere — the ensuing circus that resulted made her pull out of the running. Walking back her firm public statements about not being the Uber CEO will take superhuman PR work (good luck, Henry!).

While others have reported she is definitely accepting the job, the board has not voted to offer her the job as yet and she is still working out issues she has, said sources familiar with her thinking. She has communicated a number of changes at the car-hailing company that she would require to consider any offer lobbed her way.

That includes, most of all, an understanding that ousted Uber CEO and current board member Travis Kalanick will not be as deeply involved in the company as he has been. “His title is as ‘founder’ and that is what he needs to be,” said one person with knowledge of the situation. “That means he would be a great resource to any CEO and a helpful director, but not in any operational role.”

Whitman has much experience in this situation, having replaced eBay founder Pierre Omidyar when she took over there at the dawn of the internet age. But the soft-spoken and unfailingly dulcet Omidyar is not exactly like the face-like-a-fist, dukes-up Kalanick.

And, to be fair, it is not a small thing to fix since Kalanick has been meddling in the company’s business, according to numerous sources internally, since he was ousted two months ago by a group of shareholders. So much so that a group of top execs prepared a formal letter to the board to ask that his role be circumscribed.

Immelt had been Kalanick’s choice, said sources, and he had been willing to allow more involvement by Kalanick in Uber’s business.

Other sources said that they expect Whitman to tap into Kalanick’s expertise quite a bit too, and that she is likely to try to form a closer relationship. Whitman considers Kalanick a deeply talented visionary, although also thinks he needs to learn to be a better manager.

“To Meg, Travis is both a challenge and full of promise,” said one person familiar with Whitman’s thinking. “She’d be dumb not to work with someone whom a lot of employees still revere.”

Whitman is very familiar with Kalanick and the company as an early investor. Earlier this year, she had spent a lot of time with Kalanick and other execs trying to help them right the wobbly ship.

“She likes Travis,” said another source. “But she is appropriately wary of the mess that has been created and who is responsible.”

In that vein, also of concern to Whitman is the crazy dynamics of its board, a legitimate worry to have.

Most problematically, Kalanick and Uber’s major investor Benchmark have been embroiled in an increasingly ugly public legal battle, initiated by the Silicon Valley venture firm, which has put the other board members in the crossfire and often at cross-purposes.

Whitman wants to end all that too, by rejiggering the board and more strictly limiting its role in the operations of the business. At any other company except Uber, this is the typical way boards operate, but its board has become a corporate version of the Kardashians on a really bad day.

In addition, Whitman wants wide latitude to appoint management and rethink the structure of the business, which is also a common desire of execs taking over troubled companies.

Money, of course, is no object — Whitman is very wealthy already, although she would be in line to garner billions more if she successfully got Uber to an IPO. Her political ambitions have been muted of late — she unsuccessfully ran for governor of California as a Republican and has been on a lot of short lists for vice president. But her vehement opposition to President Donald Trump during the campaign — stronger than pretty much any tech exec — got a lot of positive notice among those not happy with the current administration.

A successful stint at Uber could certainly help those prospects a lot, which is why it will be interesting to see what Whitman does today. The Uber board was scheduled to vote today, but that might be delayed as it negotiates with her.

Given she is a public company CEO, any announcement about her probably has to be done by tomorrow morning when the markets open, so get ready for more later today or early Monday.

Like I said, Whitman is certainly driving the process now, but not for long. The question is: Does she want to?


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