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By Damis

Albion Online - Heretic Challenge

The chill of fall is beginning to creep into the air... and the Heretic Challenge is back with a whole new mount! Earn points for open-world activities, unlock chests to get valuable loot, and claim your very own Heretic Combat Mule.
This month's Challenge introduces a brand-new war machine from the twisted minds of Heretic saddlers. The Heretic Combat Mule fires a powerful cannon shot that knocks back and slows targets, but watch out for its massive recoil!!
SEASONAL SPECIALS: All month long, reach weekly goals to unlock Heretic Challenge Chests. In addition to valuable rewards like Adventurer's Tomes, Silver, resources, and older Heretic-themed furniture, you'll also have a chance to unlock three new furniture items: the Heretic Lantern, Heretic Junk Pile and Heretic Construct.
  
https://albiononline.com/en/news/heretic-challenge-returns-with-new-mount
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By Elric

Crowfall: Closed Beta!

It has been a long 5 years, but Crowfall has finally gone into Closed Beta!  If you're like me, you followed the massive hype for this game back in 2015-2017.  A majority of players lost interest after the development cycle seemed to be going out further and further.  I honestly just wrote it off and figured I would take another look when it got closer to launch.  2019 and 2020 have been rough years for MMORPG's, so I've really been looking for "the next big thing". 

Closed Beta for Crowfall started on August 11th.  I figured I would give the game a shot to see how it has progressed.  I can now say that I am pretty happy with how much this game has improved.  They haven't given a definitive "launch date" for the game yet, but Closed Beta is definitely a good sign.  There is a small chance that it will fully release before the end of 2020, but I'd personally put my money on early 2021.   The Closed Beta launch gives us all a chance to really dig into the game and figure out what classes and races we want to play. 

For those of you who aren't familiar with the background of Crowfall... It's an open-world MMORPG that has an interesting blend of PvE and PvP, and it has some unique aspects to the gameplay that set it apart from other MMORPG's.  First off, let's talk about the worlds / servers.  When you create your new character, you will want to start out in "God's Reach".  This is the PvE world where you start out leveling your character and learning the basics of the game.  At this point in the game they have a "new player experience" questline that takes you from levels 1-16.  It shows you how the game works and gives you a small taste of what the game has to offer.  Normally it is recommended to stay in the God's Reach world until you hit level 30 or so.  Grouping has no negative impact to experience gain right now, so leveling up in a group of 5 is literally 5x faster progression (if not more). 

Before you dive into the main Campaign world, there are a few other options for you to explore.  You can check out an "Infected World" server, which is essentially a persistent PvP "training grounds".  The zones are open-PvP and have keeps, forts, and outposts to fight over and claim.  I believe the general level focus for The Infected worlds are 15-30.  You can also check out The Eternal Kingdom, which is the main player housing / guild castle world that is always available.  I believe that is where many player markets will be, and where most players will hang out between campaigns.  In case this wasn't already apparent - your characters can freely move between worlds.  Thus the same character you start in God's Reach can eventually transition into the main Campaign world.

Lastly we get to the "main focus" of the game - the Campaign worlds!  The Campaign is a massive PvP world with outposts, forts, keeps, etc. along with NPC towns and such.  Players join one of three factions to compete in a "Throne War" of sorts to see which faction can come out on top at the end of the Campaign.  Here's where it gets even more interesting - the Campaign worlds are semi-temporary!  The game refers to the Campaign as "dying lands" where the players are vying for superiority and trying to harvest the riches of the world before it collapses.  The Campaigns only last a month or two, and then they disappear and the Campaign world is wiped.  All the players go back to hanging out in the Eternal Kingdom or God's Reach. and the factions count up all the rewards they obtained through the Campaign.  Then a new fresh Campaign starts up and everyone rushes in to see how well the faction can compete again.  The benefit to this concept is that you won't have a static PvP landscape where the biggest (or strongest) guilds and factions hold all of the castles permanently.  It prevents the PVP game from getting stale, and offers some new challenges with each new campaign.  We don't know yet how much each campaign will differ from the last, but there is definitely some potential there.

One other interesting concept with this game is that the player is described as "An immortal crow that travels from vessel to vessel at will".  What they mean by this is that each of your characters is just a shell that you are inhabiting at the time.  As you start out in the game, you pick from one of the 12 races and 11 classes.  Nothing is restricted in terms of gender or faction. The only restriction is that each race is limited to specific classes.  You start out in one of these "common vessels" and play the game.  Eventually you can craft or find upgraded versions of the "vessels", that allow you to build a stronger character.  The higher the vessel's rarity, the longer it takes to level and the stronger the bonuses are to your stats.  It sounds like the Crowfall devs want leveling to be a fast and easy process, so it doesn't feel like a grind to level up a new vessel / character.

Crowfall also emphasizes the idea of having multiple characters to really maximize your gameplay.  You will have some characters for combat and others for crafting & gathering.  The idea is that you will have lots of options so you don't get bored with just a single character.  To top it all off, Crowfall has a real-time player progression system similar to EVE Online.  Each of your characters levels up the normal way in PvE / PvP,  but your account as a whole is always progressing in real time.  Your account gains skill points every few seconds whether you are online or offline.  You invest those skill points into various skills that benefit every character on your account.  It unlocks new abilities, stats, etc. so that your characters can improve even when you're offline doing something else. 

While there are 11 basic classes in this game, that is only the beginning of your character progression.  Around level 20 you get to pick between three "Promotion Classes" that specialize your character in whichever of those three options you want to play.  Crowfall goes even further by introducing "Disciplines".  As your character levels up you get "Trait" points that you assign in your skill tree to unlock abilities, stat bonuses, and discipline slots.  You can find or craft Minor Disciplines that usually grant your character 1 or 2 new skills or passive bonuses.  You can also equip up to 2 Major Disciplines that function like sub-classes for your character.  They add in 4+ new skills and bonuses that allow you to customize your character to your liking.  For example, you could be playing on an in-your-face melee DPS character like a Myrmidon.  Then you add in two Major Disciplines that add some healing abilities, ranged spells, etc.  I don't know how many Major Disciplines will be available when the game launches, but even in Closed Beta there are over 40+ unique Major Disciplines to play with.  There are also Exploration Disciplines that impact your character's resource harvesting / crafting abilities.  All in all it is one of the most varied character progression systems that I've seen in a MMORPG.

The game is "Buy 2 Play", meaning that once you have bought the game you can play it forever (for free).  They do have a VIP Membership that functions like a monthly subscription, which gives you a few benefits that allow you to progress faster in the game.  Otherwise the cash shop is cosmetic only, and they claim that nothing sold in the cash shop will impact the gameplay outside of how things look (cosmetic).  Right now you can purchase the game during the Closed Beta and get it for $40 instead of the standard $50 cost.  On top of that, they currently have a promo where all you need to do is join a Guild on your account, and you get 20% off!  It worked out to about $31-32.  That promo is only active until August 23rd, so don't wait too long!

Come join us and check the game out!  If you have any questions, post here on the forums or find us on Discord. There are usually people on the COTP Discord server right now as the Beta is fresh. 

Here are a few decent videos to check out:
 
 
 
 
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By Damis

Conan Exiles - Time To Mount Up

It is time to mount your steeds and ride across the plains of the Exiled Lands. One of the most sought-after features since Early Access launch is a reality: Mounts are now available in Conan Exiles!  You can engage in mounted combat and level up your pets and thralls, so they grow more powerful the more time you spend with them.
MOUNTS
Getting a mount works the same way as getting a regular pet. You will first have to find a foal, then bring it back to a Stable to raise it. Stables work the same as Animal Pens, but are for horses only.
Like Pets/Thralls, horses will grow stronger as they level up. Raise several different horses to find one with the stats you like.
Once your foal has grown into adult horse it can be placed in the world, like a regular Thrall/Pet. To ride into the sunset like your favorite cowboy you’ll need to equip your horse with a saddle, which can be unlocked at level 20.
Saddles will have different effects on your mount:
Cavalry Saddle – Fast acceleration, maximum speed, minimum defense, minimum maneuverability Scout Saddle – Long sprinting time, medium speed, low defense, maximum maneuverability Warhorse Saddle – Slow acceleration, minimum speed, high defense, low maneuverability No matter which saddle you choose, using a horse to get anywhere is significantly faster than running on foot.
MOUNTED COMBAT
With mounts we’re also introducing mounted combat. Shoot your enemies from afar with a bow and gallop away before they know what’s going on. Grab a sword, axe or mace and swing away from the comfort of your steed.  Equip a pike or a spear and attack your enemies by stabbing at them or equip a lance and tear through your opponent’s defenses with a mighty charge.
We think mounted combat is going to add a whole new level to Conan Exiles’ PvE and PvP gameplay and we’re excited to hear what you think.
PET/THRALL LEVELING
We’re also adding a leveling system for Pets and Thralls that can follow you. Leveling a Follower grants them increased stats and special bonus Perks.
When placing a Follower, they start at level 0 with a base set of Attributes. Faction and Tier determines growth rate and base Attributes, to make sure similar pets and thralls won’t be exactly the same. You can check your Follower’s Attributes by selecting “Info” from the radial menu.
Killing enemies when a Pet or Thrall follows you will grant them experience points. Crafting, exploration and other activities will not. Pets/thralls will only gain experience points when they are following you. Pets/Thralls will gain perks as they level up, which will further enhance their capability and grant bonuses to Attributes. The more specialized the Perk, the greater the bonus.

Conan Exiles: https://www.conanexiles.com/
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By Damis

7 DAYS TO DIE - Alpha 19 B-157 Experimental Released.

The Fun Pimps are working towards another huge upgrade for the survival game 7 Days to Die, with a new experimental build out now to try. It's a massive upgrade again to many areas of the game. Some of what's new includes: Linear Color Space Lighting, Improved Gamepad Support, New Survival System & Critical Injuries, Interactive Loading Screen, Food and Water Bars in the UI and HD Characters.
Alpha 19 Official Release Notes
https://7daystodie.com/a19-official-release-notes/
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By Damis

Camelot Unchained Newsletter #67

Slowed but not stopped. 
We are now entering the new 90 day development period.  So we expect to see giants in all their glory or at least an early version.  Also, they plan on starting up a persistent world on a 24/3 [weekends] server run by their overlord program.  Some things we may also see during this period is are the Spirit mages and dragons as they start to get flushed out.
This months newsletter:  https://mailchi.mp/citystateentertainment/unveiled-camelot-unchained-newsletter-642244
News: https://camelotunchained.com/v3/category/news/
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Ztuke

Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerability

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Background

As many of you know by now, a quite serious vulnerability was discovered in early 2018 that affected both INTEL and AMD cpu's!

This discovery has sent SHOCK WAVES throughout the entire PC industry.

These flaws have been called SPECTRE and MELTDOWN.

There are patches made available by the CPU manufacturers and supplied to the hardware maker's that address this critical flaw but these are NOT applicable to all CPU's going back to the very earliest affected. (The very earliest affected CPU's would have been manufactured sometime during 1998.) The patches affect a very special instruction layer known as MICROCODE.

 

Response

The CPU manufacturers and most affected hardware manufacturers have responded by releasing patches that close access to this critical vulnerability. In the cases of INTEL and AMD, the changes have to be made at the microscopic level within the construction of the CPU its self and since this is not something that is ever undertaken without the most serious of consideration and rigorous of testing, it WILL TAKE TIME!

Microsoft, the Windows developer, and nearly all Linux system developers have produced and released software fixes to block this vulnerability. HOWEVER, it must be noted that on older hardware these patches and fixes CAN AND DO have a performance impact. On the most up to date hardware this performance hit is barely noticeable, on older hardware it can have visible penalty.

These patches/fixes are mandatory in the case of Windows users and in the case of newer Linux builds with, in the case of older Linux builds are very highly rated patch to be applied. 

 

Point of this post

Other than to make everyone aware of this and try to warn of the utmost serious nature of these flaws it is also to inform you that there is a small windows utility available that will inspect your system and inform you if your hardware is vulnerable or protected, if the software patches have been installed by Microsoft and if a software base MICROCODE update issued by Intel/AMD has also been installed. It will also indicate if your hardware is too old for these patches.

I will add at this time that NOT ALL CPU's are being patched, in general if the design of the CPU is up to roughly speaking, 5 years old then you have a high chance of there being a patch. CPU's of between 5 to 7 years have a reasonable chance with anything older than 7 years being unlikely!

The utility is produced and made available by the Gibson Research Corporation (GRC), founded by Steven Gibson,  and is called INSPECTRE.

 

Conclusion

If you wish to check your system for these critical security flaws, the above utility will give you a fast and clear indication.

 

NOTES

1) An effort has been made to avoid technical speak and many generalities have been made which will read as incorrect to the informed. It is this writers intent to inform and not confuse those who do not have the technical knowledge or understanding to read the more precise descriptions involved in the technical papers for these issues.

2) A certain amount of information and capabilities of the above mentioned patches, fixes, workaround's and utilities has been deliberately left out so as not to cause confusion OR allow the incautious to put their systems at risk!

3) The writer in no way endorses, nor implies that the community or site operators of the Covenant of the Phoenix Community endorse these comments or the software/application talked herein.

4) Use of the above utility is made solely at the users discretion, since if they are using it then they have made the conscious decision to use it!

 

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Intel had a vulnerability that could be used by the US Government to acquire state secrets from a number of bad actors; China, Russia, Terrorists.  Instead;, Intel informs its customers in China, before informing the US Government.

https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/28/intel-reportedly-notified-chinese-companies-of-chip-security-flaw-before-the-u-s-government/


They should have called the NSA and handed over the information to the NSA, so much good could have been done to thwart bad actors on the world stage.

Intel has serious governing issues, as most of their R&D and major technology comes from their Intel Israel team - the same country that was going to sell one of our AWACS aircraft to the Chinese until we complained back in 2000, to today where Israel sold the software to Saudi Arabia that allowed them to hack a Washington Post reporters phone and ambush him at their embassy and murder him, and whom purchase significant political influence over US politics, for such a small group.  Israel's track record is not good.
Most of Intels manufacturing is done overseas in Asia, including China.  Hence their telling their Asian customers before the US Government.

As unlikely as it may be to happen, boycotting Intel in your purchase decisions is what is needed here.
There is a shortage of CPUs globally, AMD has become more wanted only to fill the gap, AMD chips are not better than Intels, but they don't come with all the baggage of selling out the US government to the Chinese and American reporters and our R&D to the Israelis.

AMD for the win.

Edited by Relaed

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