Never Surrender is a heartfelt tribute to sci-fi action comedy Galaxy Quest

Trailer for Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary.

Galaxy Quest, the glorious 1999 science fiction action comedy starring Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver (among others), will turn 20 on December 25 of this year. And what better way to celebrate this important milestone than with a documentary feature? Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary is an entertaining, heartfelt tribute that comes to us (believe it or not) from the same folks behind the wildly popular online Honest Trailers series.
(Spoilers for Galaxy Quest below.)
The premise of the movie is deceptively simple: what if aliens watched transmissions of a popular science fiction TV show from Earth and thought it was real? An alien race called the Thermians model their entire society on the principles of a fictional Galaxy Quest TV show, building real, functional versions of the spaceship and much of the technology from the series. When their very existence is threatened by


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1624381

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How YACHT fed their old music to the machine and got a killer new album

The band YACHT, named for a mysterious sign seen in Portland around the turn of the century. [credit:
YACHT / Google I/O 2019 ]

The dance punk band YACHT has always felt like a somewhat techy act since debuting in the early 2000s. They famously recorded instrumental versions of two earlier albums and made them available for artists under a Creative Commons license at the Free Music Archive. Post-Snowden, they wrote a song called “Party at the NSA” and donated proceeds to the EFF. One album cover of theirs could only be accessed via fax initially (sent through a Web app YACHT developed to ID the nearest fax to groups of fans; OfficeMax must’ve loved it). Singer Claire L. Evans literally wrote the book (Broad Band) on female pioneers of the Internet.
So when Evans showed up at Google I/O this summer, we


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1560697

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The ten best console racing games of all time

Enlarge / It’s never a bad time to bust out your wheel—here’s the T-GT wheel. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin) Welcome to Ars Gaming Week 2019! As a staff full of gamers and game-lovers, we’ll be serving up extra reviews, guides, interviews, and other stories all about gaming from August 19 to August 23.

Have your gaming tastes changed as you age? Mine have. Back in the early days, before starting an accidental love affair with the car, I’d play anything. In fact, I don’t even remember my first racing game, although Outrun is probably a safe guess considering my age and where I grew up. But as I’ve gotten older and time for gaming has become scarce, that’s all gone, and I exist on a diet that’s almost exclusively racing. Console racing at that. Blame fear of having to learn something new if you like.
So when I was asked to write


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1553285

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Expanse fans, no need to worry—Amazon orders season 5 of its new sci-fi show

It’s back! The long-awaited fourth season of The Expanse returns on its new network, Amazon Prime. It will now apparently also air a future fifth season.

May 2018 initially looked like an anxious month for fans of television’s best sci-fi show in years, The Expanse. The ambitious SyFy series based on James SA Corey’s beloved novels had just the right mix of visual gusto, gripping action, geopolitical drama, and addictively tense pacing to keep us glued for its three seasons. (We learned Belter! We podcasted!) But then, unexpectedly, SyFy did what SyFy does—it cancelled the show ahead of its S3 finale.
Luckily, Expanse fans know the rest of the story. Less than a month later at National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that his company would be saving the series and producing a fourth season as an Amazon original. And this weekend, Bezos and co.


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1542775

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id Software’s origin story set to become USA Network TV series

Enlarge / John Carmack (left) and John Romero (second from right) pose with their id Software colleagues in the early ’90s. We really hope USA Network’s adaptation of their origin story gets this “fashion” just right. (credit: John Romero)
We’ve seen our share of video games turned into films and TV series, but what about the real-life origin stories behind those games? USA Network has planted a flag as the first TV network to develop a series based on the true stories of a video game’s genesis, and it’s a meaty one: Masters of Doom.
The series, named after the 2003 non-fiction book, will revolve around the creation of id Software, its meteoric rise following the launch of 1993’s DOOM, and its iconic pair of studio leads: idiosyncratic programming wizard John Carmack and brash, long-haired level designer John Romero. As Deadline reported on Thursday, the series currently only exists as a


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1528705

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F1 2019 simulates the highs and lows of motorsport, on and off the track

F1 2019 has arrived a few months earlier than F1 games in years past. I think there are enough meaningful improvements to warrant a purchase. [credit:
Codemasters ]

Coming up with something new to say about the annual update to a franchised sports game is probably almost as hard as being one of the developers who has to come up with something new to put in the game. Which is my inelegant way of saying that Codemasters’ newest Formula 1 racing game, F1 2019, is here.
I don’t envy the job of Lee Mather and his team at Codemasters. F1 2017 was a great racing game. F1 2018 was an extremely great racing game—and a wonderful interactive textbook focused on the evolution of Formula 1 cars from the early 1970s through today (as good a sequel to LJK Setright’s excellent The Grand Prix


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1527985

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It’s possible to build a Turing machine within Magic: The Gathering

Enlarge / Assemble just the right deck, and draw just the right cards, and you’ll get the equivalent of a universal Turing machine within the game, a new study finds. That makes it the most computationally complex real-world game yet known. (credit: Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald/Getty Images)
Consider this hypothetical scenario: Bob and Alice are playing a game of Magic: The Gathering. It’s normal game play at first, as, say, Filigree robots from Kaladesh face off against werewolves and vampires from Innistrad. But then Alice draws just the right card from her customized deck, and suddenly Bob finds himself caught in the equivalent of a Turing machine, the famed abstract device that can simulate any computer algorithm. Thanks to the peculiarities of the rules of Magic, Bob can now only finish the game when he meets whatever condition Alice has programmed her in-game algorithm to accomplish—for example, to find a


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1501619

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You can now download the source code for all Infocom text adventure classics

Enlarge / The Apple II, one of the myriad personal computers used to play Infocom games years ago. (credit: SSPL/Getty Images)
The source code of every Infocom text adventure game has been uploaded to code-sharing repository GitHub, allowing savvy programmers to examine and build upon some of the most beloved works of digital storytelling to date.
There are numerous repositories under the name historicalsource, each for a different game. Titles include but are not limited to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Planetfall, Shogun, and several Zork games—plus some more unusual inclusions like an incomplete version of Hitchhiker’s sequel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Infocom samplers, and an unreleased adaptation of James Cameron’s The Abyss.
The code was uploaded by Jason Scott, an archivist who is the proprietor of textfiles.com. His website describes itself as “a glimpse into the history of writers and artists bound by the 128 characters that the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) allowed them”—in


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1492683

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Valve’s “Steam Play” uses Vulkan to bring more Windows games to Linux

(credit: Aurich Lawson)
Valve announced today a beta of Steam Play, a new compatibility layer for Linux to provide compatibility with a wide range of Windows-only games.
We’ve been tracking Valve’s efforts to boost Linux gaming for a number of years. As of a few months ago, things seemed to have gone very quiet, with Valve removing SteamOS systems from its store. Last week, however, it became clear that something was afoot for Linux gaming.
The announcement today spells out in full what the company has developed. At its heart is a customized, modified version of the WINE Windows-on-Linux compatibility layer named Proton. Compatibility with Direct3D graphics is provided by vkd3d, an implementation of Direct3D 12 that uses Vulkan for high performance, and DXVK, a Vulkan implementation of Direct3D 11.
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Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1362591

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