Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Giant rocks close highway in Zion National Park


A rockslide shut down Mount Carmel Highway in southern Utah's Zion National Park last night. No one was injured. "Crews will have to blast the rock and use heavy machinery to clear it. Due to the rock fall, emergency response is not available on the east side of Zion. The Scenic Drive and Zion Canyon remains open," Park spokeswoman Jin Prugsawan told the Salt Lake Tribune.

An interesting read via Boing Boing

You can now listen to voice messages on

An interesting read via destructoid

Video game voice actors propose strike to prove #PerformanceMatters

An interesting read via Polygon - Full

The brutal simplicity of One Finger Death Punch

The raw pleasure of rhythm action, with nunchucks.

An interesting read via PC Gamer latest stories

Volcanologists Raise the Alert at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa

Volcanologists Raise the Alert at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa

For the first time in 5 years, the alert status has been raised at Hawaii's Mauna Loa.

The post Volcanologists Raise the Alert at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa appeared first on WIRED.

An interesting read via WIRED

We Just Survived the Hottest Summer in Recorded History

Four months ago in New Delhi, the streets melted and the power grid flickered as temperatures soared well beyond 110 degrees Fahrenheit. India was in the midst of the fifth deadliest heat wave in its history , and summer hadn’t even begun.


An interesting read via Gizmodo

I loved a song on Iggy Azalea - Fancy

Iggy Azalea - Fancy

I loved a song on Major Lazer - Lean On (feat. MØ & DJ Snake)

Major Lazer - Lean On (feat. MØ & DJ Snake)

I loved a song on Nico & Vinz - That's How You Know (feat. Kid Ink & Bebe Rexha)

Nico & Vinz - That's How You Know (feat. Kid Ink & Bebe Rexha)

Would You Rather Have a Boring Job or a Stressful One?

Neither are ideal situations, of course, and most jobs have their mix of normal, boring, and stressful times. But—between boredom and stress—which do you think is worse for your career?


An interesting read via Lifehacker

I loved a song on Rock City - Locked Away

Rock City - Locked Away

The Story Behind Steam’s 'Framerate Police'

The Story Behind Steam’s 'Framerate Police'

Not all PC games run at 60 frames per second, and for some people, that’s a big problem.

The Framerate Police group is, with nearly 100,000 followers, the tenth most popular curator on all of Steam. Their aim? To list the top possible framerate of any game that’s locked at 30 FPS or less. As they put it:

“We catalogue games that are locked at 30fps so you can see them at a glance and mention if it is possible to unlock the framerate by other means.”

A game’s framerate is the frequency at which consecutive frames are displayed, typically measured in per-second intervals (60 FPS, 30 FPS, etc). In short, the higher the framerate, the smoother the game tends to look in motion. By and large, 60 is considered to be the gold standard—the point at which a video game becomes, as the cliche goes, as smooth as butter. 30 FPS is plenty functional, but, in many cases, not nearly as nice-looking nor responsive. That responsiveness is a big deal for many hardcore gamers, especially on the PC, where games can ship with a variety of technical settings that users can minimize or maximize based on their own system specs. (On the PS4 and Xbox One, which cannot be customized by users, 60 FPS is rarer but still appreciated.) For some gamers, anything less than 60 FPS can feel clunky or even uncomfortable.

Comparison video courtesy of ScatterVolt.

Because The Framerate Police group is such a big curator, their listing often appears on Steam games’ store pages, like so:

The Story Behind Steam’s 'Framerate Police'

Simple enough, right? However, since the group’s establishment in July of this year, it’s been a source of a surprising amount of controversy. Critics say that evaluating a game based solely on its framerate doesn’t paint a complete picture or, worse, offers an inaccurate reflection—it presents framerate as a binary arbiter of games’ quality. Moreover, some developers of smaller games contend that their genres and designs never needed to run at 60 FPS, or that they simply couldn’t get there with limited resources. They fear that the Framerate Police are taking them downtown for a crime they didn’t commit.

A history of disappointment

Sometimes, a lower framerate is just that: a little lower. A first-person shooter doesn’t feel quite as deliciously smooth; an action game doesn’t feel quite as intoxicatingly tactile. It’s less comfortable—or, to some, more comfortable—but not game-breaking. On some occasions, however, things get ugly.

PC versions of big-budget games—especially those developed primarily with consoles in mind—have something of a checkered past. While plenty have turned out perfectly functional, there has been a distinct trend of half-assed PC ports over the past few years. One telltale sign of a bad PC port is a locked framerate—one that cannot exceed 30 FPS (or an even lower number) despite the fact that top-tier PCs run circles around consoles with their muscular calves/hardware. PC gamers love getting the best possible performance out of their machines, but locked framerates can rain all over their parades.

Arkham Knight performance video courtesy of RPS.

One particularly infamous recent example is the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight, which—in addition to a litany of bugs and glitches—came with a framerate arbitrarily locked at 30 FPS. When Arkham Knight first launched, its PC version was hardly even functional, let alone serviceable. It was clear that Warner didn’t give it the time or resources it needed, nor did they focus on making it the best game it could be on PC. PC gamers took it pretty personally, as they often do with this sort of thing. They’ve been getting the second fiddle treatment from bigger game-makers for years, after all.

Arkham Knight was a worst case scenario, but it demonstrates why framerate issues strike such a resonant chord with PC gamers and—in turn—why a locked framerate might cause some to see red. Locked framerates have been associated with many sore points in PC gaming history, and people are fed up. PC gamers care about these issues. They care a lot, which is part of why The Framerate Police Steam curator has so many followers.

Cracking down

The Framerate Police Steam curator group was originally established by popular YouTuber John “Totalbiscuit” Bain. His goal was one of simple practicality: he wanted to objectively inform prospective buyers of games’ framerates and, in turn, give them an indication of how they’d play.

“Over the past few years I feel many PC gamers have become very aware of how powerful the PC can be in comparison to the current generation of consoles and their expectations have risen in accordance with that,” Bain told me via email. “PC gamers are perhaps more educated in matters of performance than they used to be, and with that comes a desire for games that run better and can take full advantage of the hardware they own. One of the biggest frustrations for people like that is when a game prevents them from getting the performance their hardware is capable of due to arbitrary limitations within the software itself and one of the most obvious and jarring that has such a big impact on how a game plays, is a 30 frames per second (or lower) lock.”

The Story Behind Steam’s 'Framerate Police'

The group got off to something of an inauspicious start when, shortly after launching in July, some of its members flooded one game, Guild of Dungeoneering, after its developer hid a Framerate Police curator listing from the game’s Steam store page. Furious, they went after the developer on forums and via email, complaining of censorship.

“The issue to me is that when a curator with a large following ‘recommends’ your game, that text is what comes up on your store page,” Guild of Dungeoneering lead developer Colm Larkin explained to me in an e-mail. “It’s meant to be an excerpt of a review.”

“So we removed the 30 FPS lock one from our store page,” he said. “What happened next was suddenly we were getting a whole load of emails, tweets, posts on Reddit, threads on our Steam forums, etc, asking us to stop ‘censoring’ the Framerate Police curator. They ranged from polite to threatening in tone but it was their sheer amount that broke us. It was like a DDOS attack. This was at a time when we were overwhelmed with just trying to keep up with our launch. This was I think two days after launch and we were super busy trying to respond to legitimate requests and patch in Mac support and achievements and other fixes. I soon found out what had happened: there was a discussion about us not showing the group on our store page, which led to the ‘witch hunt’ as TotalBiscuit labeled it later.”

The Story Behind Steam’s 'Framerate Police'

Bain told me that this kind of qualitative judgement (coupled with the ensuing mob of irate Steam users) was never his intention. He’s since tried to make that clearer to followers of the Framerate Police curator. “After an incident in which a vocal minority of the group posted angry messages on the forum of a developer who had chosen to block the curator from their store page (they later reversed this decision), we made a group-wide announcement that we would not tolerate members of the group engaging in aggressive behavior and harassment. We have actively banned those we have seen engaging in this behavior,” said Bain.

Still, the mere existence of a big, authoritative group like the Framerate Police serves, for some, as a rallying cry, proof that they should take some form of action. Bain worries that the group’s name might encourage a certain aggressive streak. “I guess if I could change one thing in hindsight it would have been the name,” he said. “It was intended as a light-hearted joke, along the lines of the grammar police, however some people interpreted it differently. Unfortunately it’s not possible to change Steam group names after their creation, so we’re stuck with it now.”

Time and place

Guild of Dungeoneering is not a PC port of a console game. It’s been on PC since day one. A handful of other PC indie games dot the Framerate Police’s ever-expanding curator page because, like Guild of Dungeoneering, they also run at 30 FPS. Most of them do not, however, run poorly and, for some of them, 60 FPS would be a negligible change. Problem is, if a game’s been dinged by a curator called The Framerate Police, it’s easy to interpret that as a knock against its overall quality.

“60 FPS for Guild of Dungeoneering isn’t necessary,” explained Colm. “The game runs super smoothly, and it’s a 2D turn-based game. Remember, particularly for us small indies, anything we want to include in the game takes time, everything is a trade-off. We picked 30 FPS to keep things simple with our engine and then focused on more important things like finishing the game itself, or making it work on Macs.”

However, some still see 30 FPS as a badge worn by negligent developers, people who don’t care about PC gamers. Others view it as inherently worse than a higher framerate alternative, even in games where a framerate above functional levels isn’t a huge factor.

In striving for total objectivity—a complete list of games with framerates locked at 30 FPS or below, regardless of context—The Framerate Police allows people to make up their own minds about what any of it means, for better or worse. Bain pointed out that in recent times The Framerate Police added a genre listing to each curation, in hopes that people wouldn’t make knee-jerk judgement calls over a number. However, given that genres can be interpreted in all sorts of different ways, there’s still a gray area.

Rami Ismail (who, worth noting, is a friend of mine) of Vlambeer, the studio behind games like Super Crate Box, Luftrausers, and currently, Nuclear Throne, recently tweeted that he’s received refund requests as a result of his game’s 30 FPS lock (albeit only 53 out of 1500 total returns). He told me that he understands where all the hubbub about framerate is coming from, but he doesn’t think The Framerate Police’s Steam curation is an ideal way to handle it.

The Story Behind Steam’s 'Framerate Police'

“I think it’s a way more nuanced issue than a lot of people make it seem,” said Ismail. “Shoddy ports are always indefensible, and should be called out. But that seems separate to the issue at hand. For some people, games being less than 60 FPS is uncomfortable, and that’s also a serious issue that should be considered. That being said, I think the curation group is not the right way of dealing with it. On Nuclear Throne, we have the curator group blocked, and added the framerate to our technical specs. We feel that the curator spot is meant for curator recommendation, and our game being 30 FPS is a technical specification. We made sure the store page for the game reflects that.”

Bain agrees with the last part of Ismail’s sentiment. He’d prefer for framerate locks to be listed as part of all games’ technical specifications. “Personally I think something like 30 FPS lock should be required information in the Steam store description, alongside system requirements, DRM information, etc,” he said. “If developers simply revealed this information to begin with or if Steam hadn’t banned the 30 FPS tag, there would be no need for this curator to exist.”

Framerate absolutely can affect the way a game plays—sometimes to the point of making it unplayable, other times just leading to a sub-optimal or slightly uncomfortable experience. It’s definitely not bad information to have. But it’s also not everything. It’s only part of the murky moat of data surrounding any given game, one made both simpler and more complex by the existence of an authority like The Framerate Police.

Still, Bain thinks The Framerate Police Steam curation is solving more problems than it’s causing.

“People did not suddenly decide to dislike 30 FPS locks just because we started a curator on the subject,” he said, “and the kind of people that would follow our curator are those who, logically, do find the issue of framerate important. If we didn’t exist they’d still think that way and may have purchased games that weren’t to their needs, resulting in negative reviews of the product on Steam or angry messages on the forums. By helping users avoid these titles in the first place we can also avoid much of this conflict.”

The Framerate Police is an instance in which a flawed approach—the name, putting a single tech spec in an otherwise holistic evaluative space—emerged from a flawed system: Steam. What all this seems to say is that Steam needs to include framerate in games’ store page system requirements/tech specs. That’d be a much better fit for all involved. Valve did not respond to my request for comment, but we all know how they work at this point: they’re not talking, but that doesn’t (necessarily) mean they’re turning a blind eye. I hope they’re paying extra close attention right now.

Top illustration by Sam Woolley.

You’re reading Steamed, Kotaku’s page dedicated to all things in and around Valve’s stupidly popular PC gaming service. Games, culture, community creations, criticism, guides, videos—everything. If you’ve found anything cool/awful on Steam, send us an email to let us know.

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @vahn16.

An interesting read via Kotaku

I loved a song on One Direction - Story of My Life

One Direction - Story of My Life

Fly Or Die: iPhone 6s

We’re back with a special TechCrunch Disrupt SF edition of Fly or Die, where we had an early preview of the new iPhone 6s. As is now routine with iPhone releases, the 6s is an off-year incremental upgrade, focusing on upgraded internals instead of exterior aesthetics. The most notable upgrade is probably the rear-facing camera, which is now 12MP and capable of capturing 4K video. The… Read More

An interesting read via TechCrunch » Gadgets

I loved a song on Disclosure - Latch

Disclosure - Latch

Real Runners Feature in Tracksmith’s Cross Country Collection Film

“When fall comes, I get nervous.” Tracksmith‘s “This is Cross Country” film opens with a black screen and an unnamed voice making this somewhat innocuous confession. Of course, a lot of us feel this way. Autumn means the…

The post Real Runners Feature in Tracksmith’s Cross Country Collection Film appeared first on Selectism.

An interesting read via Selectism

I loved a song on Rihanna - Don't Stop The Music

Rihanna - Don't Stop The Music

Watch the first trailer for 'The Angry Birds Movie'

Yes, folks, it's all happening. The first trailer for The Angry Birds Movie has arrived. Directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly (both first timers), and written by Jon Vitty (The Simpsons), the animated film seems to focus on the origin story of why these famous birds are, well, angry. Red, perhaps the most popular character, is voiced by Jason Sudeikis, while Danny McBride does the honors for Bomb -- you know, the black bird who likes to blow up. The rest of the cast is made up by other well-known stars, including Bill Hader, Josh Gad, Maya Rudolph and Peter Dinklage. Interestingly enough, The Angry Birds Movie is now slated to hit theaters in May 2016, a couple of months earlier than originally announced.

Source: Angry Birds (YouTube)

An interesting read via Engadget

I loved a song on Maroon 5 - Sugar

Maroon 5 - Sugar

Players Discover Secret Destiny Mission With An Awesome Reward

Destiny, the video game that won Peter Dinklage an Emmy, is now full of hidden secrets, some of which you’ll probably never find your own.


An interesting read via io9

Donald Trump confirms, then denies, father's arrest at Klan rally


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump finally responded to Boing Boing's uncovering of a 1920s-era story reporting the apparent arrest of his father at a Ku Klux Klan Rally in Queens. As one might expect from The Donald, he confirmed it, denied it, and got angry with "that little website."

But it wasn't our reporter, Matt Blum, who wrote that Fred Trump shared lawyers with men charged with attacking cops at the Klan "parade"—it was an unbylined Times writer with no idea of the then-young Fred Trump's future significance as a real estate mogul. And it's present-day Times journalist, Jason Horowitz, to whom Trump stumbled through his excuses.

"Mr. Trump’s barrage of answers – his sudden denial of a fact he had moments before confirmed; his repeatedly noting that no charges were filed against his father in connection with the incident he had just repeatedly denied; and his denigration of the news organization that brought the incident to light as a “little website” – shows his pasta-against-the-wall approach to beating down inconvenient story lines," writes Horowitz.

Q. Have you seen this story about police arresting a Fred Trump who lived at that Devonshire address in 1927 after a Ku Klux Klan rally turned violent?

A. Totally false. We lived on Wareham. The Devonshire — I know there is a road Devonshire but I don’t think my father ever lived on Devonshire.

Q. The Census shows that he lived there with your mother there. But regardless, you never heard about that story?

A. It never happened. And by the way, I saw that it was one little website that said it. It never happened. And they said there were no charges, no nothing. It’s unfair to mention it, to be honest, because there were no charges. They said there were charges against other people, but there were absolutely no charges, totally false.

Somebody showed me that website — it was a little website and somebody did that. By the way, did you notice that there were no charges? Well, if there are no charges that means it shouldn’t be mentioned.

Because my father, there were no charges against him, I don’t know about the other people involved. But there were zero charges against him. So assuming it was him — I don’t even think it was him, I never even heard about it. So it’s really not fair to mention. It never happened.

Trump—who recently described Mexican immigrants as rapists and has a history of dubious comments about minorities—inherited his father's fortune. But he also worked alongside and was mentored by him as a young man. A 1979 article, published by Village Voice, reported on a civil rights lawsuit that alleged the Trumps refused to rent to black home-seekers. It also quotes a rental agent who said Fred Trump instructed him not to rent to blacks, and to encourage existing black tenants to leave. The case was settled in a 1975 consent degree described as "one of the most far-reaching ever negotiated," but the Justice Department subsequently complained that continuing "racially discriminatory conduct by Trump agents has occurred with such frequency that it has created a substantial impediment to the full enjoyment of equal opportunity."

Trump is currently the runaway leader among Republican voters, enjoying more than 30 percent support in some polls. trump

An interesting read via Boing Boing

MGSV: Horrible Boss

Continuing a diary series in which an MGS virgin plays the Phantom Pain. The real trouble with Quiet is that she’s lazy. Or so I incorrectly thought for the longest time. … [visit site to read more]

An interesting read via Rock, Paper, Shotgun

Epic Trivia Fail at 160mph with Nathan Barnatt

Keith Apicary's alter-ego Nathan Barnatt tries to not pass out while riding shotgun in an Audi R8 V10 Competition while answering ridiculous trivia in 60 secs.

An interesting read via IGN Video Games

Divinity: Original Sin -- Enhanced Edition - Console Co-Op Trailer

This action-RPG features split-screen and online co-op, letting players explore with a friend.

An interesting read via IGN Video Games

Babymetal is coming to Rock Band 4, so let's listen to Babymetal


The Babymetal song "Gimme Chocolate!!" will be available as a bonus track for the soon-to-be-released Rock Band 4 if you preorder the game on Xbox One, which is important because: Babymetal.

If you're not familiar with the delightful Japanese teen girl trio whose unique fusion of heavy metal and J-pop is accompanied by bright, coordinated outfits, dance numbers and cautionary songs about bullying, then today is the day when you get acquainted. The fictional backstory for the band involves a "new style of heavy metal" being invented by a fox deity:

Instead of the sign of the horns, the band uses the hand gesture of the fox (or more accurately the kitsune) to symbolize the band's divine inspiration. When asked about this divinity (the 'Fox God') they replied, "We've actually never met the Fox God, but because of his blessing, we were able to become Babymetal."

Rock Band 4 launches on October 6, but perhaps more importantly has provided me with an excuse for me to post Babymetal videos, and you to watch them. Enjoy, and remember: If you show true courage, they will show true metal.

An interesting read via Boing Boing