Habbo’s ‘Hotel Hideaway’ Now Available After Lengthy, Unorthodox Soft Launch

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The long-running Habbo franchise gets its latest game, out now on mobile, called Hotel Hideaway [Free], and it’s a social MMO where you get to interact with other hotel denizens on a giant, permanent vacation resort. You can do all sorts of stuff. You can spin the wheel for prizes, you can buy new outfits, get a new hair color, mine for new materials from interdimensional rifts…you know, typical vacation stuff. There’s also a whole gesture system where you can combine different body parts and movements to do different things, like shaking a giant foam fist at other people. The whole game’s a lot about interaction and talking with people, so please don’t be a jerk. This hotel is supposed to be classy, don’t go telling people to die! But, as a social MMO, I guess that’s what people are gonna do.

Now, there’s just one catch: Hotel Hideaway has technically been out on the App Store since 2016. It’s ready for prime time now, and I guess this does mean that the game has an established player base now that it’s ready for the general public. But it does show that the idea of what a “release” is, and what constitutes a “soft launch” are dramatically changing.

This is in line with larger attitudes of a “release” in the grand schemes of things. After all, Fortnite [Free] just ran an invite-only event, and the game is still technically “Early Access” though it’s, uh, making money hand over fist. Friday the 13th is technically in soft launch in the United States. PUBG came out of early access on PC, but it’s still got issues, and is nowhere near content-complete.

Of course, you could also say that “Early Access” is kind of a joke now anyway with games-as-service’s dominance as a model for games. Games are always changing and seeing updates, and what’s really the difference between Hearthstone [Free] and Fortnite or Habbo in their release states other than the label?

Even Hideaway Hotel is going to see some improvements in the near future with the addition of augmented reality modes that we saw at GDC. Truly, in the age of games-as-a-service, when does a game truly ever “release,” and when is it “complete?” In this era, are these terms just merely arbitrary words? Perhaps!

It would help if Apple just had an Early Access section the way that Google Play does. Make the apps lightly visible in some form, and available to anyone who’s curious without complicated restrictions. Then, when the developer is ready to make a big deal about it, and think it’s ready for public consumption, they can pull it out of early access and start making a big stink about it. Happens with restaurants, where they might have soft openings where they open but don’t tell a lot of people about it. Still, being “open” for a couple of years like Habbo Hotel Hideaway is perhaps taking things to a ridiculous degree!

Regardless, Hotel Hideaway is now released because Habbo says it is. It’s tough to keep a secret about a game release, but it’s something that people do: maybe they’re involved in something that they don’t necessarily tell the world about, but it might be a big deal to the part of the world they choose to reveal that part of themselves to. Games can do that too, I guess! Habbo Hotel Hideaway is out now, whatever that really, truly means.


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PUBG Mobile for Android soft launches in Canada, even though everyone has moved on to Fortnite

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Rumblings of a PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds release on Android for western markets started late last year, when two different versions of the game were announced for China: one made by TIMI Studio Group, the other by Lightspeed & Quantum Studio. The latter version has made its way across the globe during the last three months, as PUBG Mobile is now live on the play store. But, this is a soft launch, so it’s Canada-only (for now).

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PUBG Mobile for Android soft launches in Canada, even though everyone has moved on to Fortnite was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Gameloft’s ‘Dungeon Hunter Champions’ Extends Soft Launch and Opens Up Pre-Registration

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Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter series has an interesting history. Back in the days when Gameloft’s business model was “copy popular games from console/PC and put them on mobile” the first few entries in the Dungeon Hunter series were as close as we could get to having a loot-tastic dungeon crawler like Diablo on our mobile devices. As trends began to change so did the newer entries in the series, gaining more of the free to play and social elements that inhabited the most successful games on mobile. Now Gameloft is jumping in on the MOBA craze with their latest entry Dungeon Hunter Champions. Built around the familiar hack ‘n slash gameplay and loot collection, Dungeon Hunter Champions also includes a whopping 250 different champions to collect as well as 5v5 online multiplayer in addition to a solo campaign.

Strangely, Dungeon Hunter Champions was soft-launched in the Philippines way back in August of last year, when a thread was started in our forums. It didn’t illicit much of a response from our community, who all seemed to have a bit of Dungeon Hunter fatigue after the previous two outings. However, as of this week Gameloft is now “officially” announcing the game and extending the soft-launch into the Canadian and Vietnamese App Stores. Unlike some of Gameloft’s other soft launches, Dungeon Hunter Champions does not appear to be region locked (anymore), so if you want to jump in and play it early then load up one of your iTunes accounts in any of the soft launch regions. Otherwise head over to the official website to pre-register and earn some rewards for when the game launches globally, which as of right now there is no date set just yet.

iTunes App Store Soft Launch Link: Dungeon Hunter Champions, Free (by Gameloft)

Google Play Store Soft Launch Link: Dungeon Hunter Champions, Free (by Gameloft)


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‘Tales of Gaia’ Now Soft Launched

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When we announced back in June of last year that Snail Games, the developer of Taichi Panda [Free] and Age of Wushu [Free], was working on a new MMO, there was very little detail in regard to what the game would play like or how it would look outside of cutscenes. We are talking about it today to let you know that that game has soft-launched in several European markets, and there has since been quite a flood of beta footage and information leaked to clue us into what Tales of Gaia is all about.

Originally titled Dark and Light: Tales of Gaia, this game now sports a slimmed-down moniker. A wave of nostalgia may wash over you looking at the left side character portrait, quest log, and d-pad or the right side notifications, mini-map, and skill buttons. Sub-menus are also very familiar with gem packs, daily log-ins and milestone achievement rewards. That nostalgia would probably stem from the fact that the interface of the game is now very much an industry standard among MMO staples. The setting is the classic fantasy world that seems to have just enough technology to see plate armor, brick and mortar buildings and gun powder. Since August it looks like the game has expanded from 3 races to 4. Lithe Elves, barbaric Titans and the standard Human were pre-existing and since then the short and cute Dwarf race has been added to the game.

It will be an interesting change for Snail to tackle a more Western-themed game. Some screens look so very familiar to the >World of Warcraft city Stormwind that it begs the question, is Snail inviting a comparison? Can we expect something more like a PC MMO than we have seen yet on mobile? As a developer they have captured app store success since 2015 and it is poised to continue delivering AAA title quality to mobile devices. We look forward to hearing more about Tales of Gaia and hope to see more features that help it stand out from the competition.


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We Now Have Soft Robots With a Sense of Touch. But Why?

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What is the big deal with soft robots? It seems like pretty much every week, another robot crawls onto the scene, seemingly alive with “hands,” a soft body, and even autonomous movement. They can look fairly mechanical, as in the case of underwater ROVs; or they can also look shockingly organic, like the Octobot — the first autonomous soft robot in the world. In a recent study published in the journal Advanced Materials, researchers at Harvard University have brought these lifelike robots to new heights by giving them the ability to sense and feel the world around them.

These are remarkable feats of engineering, to be sure. But soft robots are actually useful, too. And each incremental advance brings them closer to fulfilling their larger potential in a variety of applications.

Take this project from Harvard, that sensing soft robot. With a better sense of touch, robots can better respond to respond to pressure, movement, and even temperature. That’s simply cool (and frankly a little freaky to watch in videos), but that quality is also important because it could improve the precision and dexterity of robots and robotic extensions.

Soft robots that are more responsive to different types of stimuli make them more delicate and refined grippers — or “hands” — for machines. Whether researchers are picking up delicate specimens deep in the ocean or completing repairs on the outside of the ISS, it’s essential to have robotic extremities that are easy-to-control and dextrous. Pressure-sensitive grippers that can tell whether they’re holding a gelatinous squid or a tiny screw, and adjust their grip accordingly, could prevent time-consuming and even dangerous mistakes.

Soft robotics also have potential medical applications. Robots are increasingly making their way into surgical procedures, assisting physicians and turning major surgery into a minimally invasive procedure. If physicians used soft robots that could feel and respond to stimuli, they could be enormously more precise, and pose a smaller risk of damaging soft tissue and sensitive organs with the wrong amount of pressure.

When looking at a squiggling, transparent “octopus,” it can be difficult to see the practical applications of this emerging field — and one can only get excited so many times about a technology that doesn’t yet have any application to our lives. Yet despite the hype, each new advance does bring us closer to the broader use of soft robotics in place of existing technologies. When we get there, there’s no telling how much better our lives could get, or how much more scientists might know about the world.

The post We Now Have Soft Robots With a Sense of Touch. But Why? appeared first on Futurism.


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Asphalt 9: Legends Guide – How to Download the Soft Launch and Use VPN

Gameloft soft launched Asphalt 9: Legends in the Philippines, and if you want to play the game before it’s out worldwide, this guide explains how to do that. You will need to register a Philippines iTunes account if you don’t already have one, or switch the country on an existing account. Additionally, Gameloft is wise to the practice of users getting accounts outside of their region and downloading games. So, the company region-locks its titles. What you need to do is to use a VPN, which you can do for free.

Change an iTunes Account to the Philippines

If you already have a soft launch account, or want to switch your existing account to the Philippines temporarily, you can do that. Note that if you have season passes to iTunes TV shows, you might not be able to switch over until the season pass is fulfilled. Some subscriptions might cause issues as well.

Go to the Settings app, then scroll down to iTunes and App Store. Tap on your Apple ID, then View Apple ID. Sign in with your password, then choose Country/Region. From there, choose the Philippines. You will need an address in the Philippines to register your account there, so use an address generator service to create one for you. Once you fill out all this information, your account’s new region will be the Philippines, and you can go download Asphalt 9.

Register a Soft Launch Account

If you want to create a brand new account so that you aren’t just changing the country on your main iTunes account with all its purchases, this is possible. You will need to sign out of your main iCloud account in Settings. This listing is the very big first entry in the settings list. Make sure your contacts, photos, and reminders are backed up if you do not have them backed up already! Once it says that you’re signed out, tap on the “Sign into your iPhone/iPod/iPad” prompt. Then, tap the “Don’t have an Apple ID or forgot it?” link.

Now, create an Apple ID. You can use an existing throwaway email address, but you can also create a free iCloud email address.

Now complete account registration. You might need to verify with a phone number, and though you might change the country later, you can use a phone number from any region to verify your account.

Once you complete your registration, sign into the App Store. You will get some information to fill out, including the country for your account. Let’s start off with Canada, where many soft launch titles release. You can try creating a Chinese account, but again, you might have issues doing this.

For a billing address, you can use a fake name generator to generate an address and name of your choice. Make sure you choose none for your billing information.

Now go and download Asphalt 9 for yourself!

Use a VPN

Cloudwall VPN was a popular choice for Modern Combat Versus [Free], and it still works if you downloaded the app and it’s in your purchased history. Unfortunately, it’s not on the App Store any more. Otherwise, you will need to download something like VyprVPN [Free] in order to appear in the Philippines. Download the app, then follow its steps to install its VPN profile, find the Manila server, and connect. Be careful, though: you only get one gigabyte of free data with this app. You might want to experiment with a bunch of different VPN apps in order to see what works for you and in order to spread your data usage around.

You’ll need to be patient. Most VPN apps that don’t suck cost money (at least after their free trials), and many apps don’t have Philippines servers. It’s worth paying for a VPN at some point if you’re concerned about privacy or need to avoid region detection often. If you see the region-blocking screen, be sure to close the app out from the app switcher and try again. Also try reconnecting to your VPN, sometimes a different IP address will do the trick.

This VPN step is annoying, and it does mean that you won’t get the best performance in anything that requires latency (along with slower download speeds), but hey: if you want to play Gameloft’s latest game before it’s worldwide, you have to jump through some hoops.Hopefully publishers don’t keep adding new stopgaps to prevent people from playing their games early, but it might just be something that enterprising players will have to keep finding new workarounds for.

If you wind up using our guide to download Asphalt 9: Legends for yourself, let us know, and be sure to comment below with any VPNs you recommend, and be sure to discuss the game in our forums and on our Discord!


Sharp Android One S3 has a tough exterior and a soft chipset

Sharp has introduced a new Android One phone – the Sharp Android One S3 for Y! Mobile. This is a fairly compact device with a dust and waterproof body. It even underwent some MIL-STD style shock testing by dropping it from 26 directions onto plywood from a height of 1.2m. The screen is a 5″ IGZO panel (1080p resolution) and has traditionally-sized bezels (a polite way of saying “big”). This is a Snapdragon 430 device after all, so don’t expect too much. You do get Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, running on 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (+ a microSD slot). The Sharp Aquos S3…

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Sharp Aquos S3 is an Android One phone with a tough exterior and a soft chipset

Sharp has introduced a new Android One phone – the Sharp Aquos S3. Despite the name, this is an entry-level device rather than a follow-up to the Aquos S3 (which was more of a mid-ranger). This is a fairly compact device with a dust and waterproof body. It even underwent some MIL-STD style shock testing by dropping it from 26 directions onto plywood from a height of 1.2m. The screen is a 5″ IGZO panel (1080p resolution) and has traditionally-sized bezels (a polite way of saying “big”). This is a Snapdragon 430 device after all, so don’t expect too much. You do get Android 8.0 Oreo…

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‘Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery’ Soft Launches on the Google Play Store

We’ve been keeping a close eye on Jam City’s Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery ever since we first got word of it last December and saw its first trailer launch just last week. As a game that has you creating a student avatar and taking that character through the first four years of a Hogwarts education, Mystery has at the possibility of being a interesting game simply from the standpoint of exploring the Harry Potter canon in a new way. Besides anytime someone describes the gameplay as potentially combining the amazing IP of Harry Potter with the student-based adventures from games such as the likes of Bully, I always perk up.

Well, for folks that have an Android device, you may have the opportunity to check out the game even sooner than the rest of mobile players. We noticed recently that the game has now appeared on the Google Play Store with the soft launch moniker of being ‘an unreleased app.’ Checking out the information on the Play store it looks to be a free title with IAP ranging from $ 0.99 to $ 99, which sure seems like premium currency buys to me.

While I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and I’ll certainly check out Hogwarts Mystery when it comes out, the apparent freemium underpinnings always mean that I’ll have to approach the game with a cautiously optimistic standpoint. Obviously, the folks at Jam City are seem to be approaching their game design with a careful eye as well since a soft launch will allow the developers to fine-tune and adjust the game until they get it right. Regardless, for folks with an Android device, you may want to check out the soft launch if you want an early preview of what Hogwarts Mystery has to offer. For the rest of us, be sure to pre-register at the official website, check out its first trailer embedded above, and be sure to stick with us as we continue to monitor this latest venture into the vast world of Harry Potter.


OnePlus 3 and 3T get OxygenOS 5.0.1 with aptX HD, Soft screen calibration

OnePlus 3 and 3T owners were greeted with an update notification this morning – Oxygen OS 5.0.1 has arrived. The full update weighs 1.47GB, though you only need to download a tenth of that if you’re already on 5.0.0. Audiophiles who are also wire-phobes will appreciate the addition of aptX HD (aka aptX Lossless). It transmits high-quality audio at up to 48 kHz sampling rates and resolutions up to 24 bits. Oxygen OS 5.0.1 for OnePlus 3 and 3T • aptX now supported Another change is the Soft screen calibration. It dials back the color saturation compared to default mode while the…

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