ww2 online
The 1990s saw the rise of flight simulators that thrived on detailed, complicated controls and handling. Such games threw out accessibility and casual-friendliness for stark-raving realism, and a certain subset of gamers really thrived on them. I tried my hand at a couple and found myself breathing rapidly when pouring through keyboard charts and doing basic algebra just to get a plane off of the ground. Not for me, I said then.

I don't think there's ever stopped being absurdly complex video games that aim for immersion through detailed realism, even though that appeals to only the fringe of the fringe. Some people have their gaming standards set exactly that high and no lower, and some devs refuse to water down their visions just to sell more box units. For these people, Cornered Rat Software (CRS) created World War II Online, an overly ambitious MMOFPS that stumbled out of the gate in 2001 but has gamely soldiered on since then. Over a decade now an epic war has been raging for control over a continent, and it's been up to the fiercely loyal fans to keep the fight going.

Today we're going to take a look at the guts 'n' glory of this project to both praise its complexity and curse it for the same thing. If nothing else, it was a game that could only have arisen from the early landscape of 3-D MMOs, and for that it warrants our attention.
Divekick developer Iron Galaxy Studios will re-introduce players to Maya, Queen of the Amazons, when it rolls out the second season of content for Killer Instinct, according to reports from this year's EVO event.

Microsoft community manager Mike Robles tweeted concept art of the dagger-wielding warrior, while GameSpot reports that Iron Galaxy described Maya as a high-risk, high-reward character during the panel where she was unveiled. According to GameSpot's report, Maya's daggers will level up as she lands hits on her opponents, eventually reaching the point where she can throw them as projectiles.

A photo of the presentation also reveals that Maya's design is inspired by the Inca civilization. While the Incas lived on the fringe of the Amazon Basin and not deep in the rainforest, thus making her "Queen of the Amazon" title a bit of a mismatch, we're willing to bet you'll have bigger things to worry about - things like daggers flying at your face - when Killer Instinct season two begins this fall.
[Image: Microsoft]

Take Creative Vocal Recorder is a free iPhone voice recorder, designed by the fantastic Propellerhead, creators of great music-making apps like Reason and Figure.

Thousands of musicians around the world use the iPhone's Voice Memos app to instantly and easily capture moments of creative inspiration. However, the app is limited to just a single take, with limited editing features -- perhaps that's its strength. Nevertheless, Propellherhead's Take capitalizes on those ideas, with an app that's just as easy to instantly grab and start recording, but with a few supercharged features.

Take gives you three tracks to record on, so if you get a great idea down, it's really easy to build on that idea right there and then, adding a harmony and perhaps a second instrument part. Each track also has volume levels and a simple reverb effect.

Previously I've laid down a catchy idea on the Voice Memos app only to realize my timings been all over the place, meaning it's not a usable guide for a later production. Take adds a simple metronome with adjustable BPM as well as beats and loops to keep you on track and further inspire your ideas. I only wish the metronome had other time signatures. Hopefully we'll see that in a later update.

Finally, just like on the Voice Memos app, Take makes it really easy to share your ideas with friends and colleagues via email, Facebook and Twitter.

One important thing to note is that Take works best with headphones. If you want to take advantage of Take's metronome or loops and beats, you'll need to plug in headphones, preferably without a built-in mic, so you don't get sound bleeding into your recording and you get the best audio recording from your iPhone's mic.

Check out Take in action in the video below.

Must Reads

Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.


Today's Tech: How a California Personal Injury Attorney Uses Google Glass
by Nicole Black,
Above the Law


We've seen everyone from medical school students to airline staff using Google Glass. Heck, even lawyers are jumping on board. California attorney Mitch Jackson is using Glass in his practice to record witness interviews and depositions to be viewed later. Jackson touts the potential of Google's spectacles in the jury selection process, especially when his consultant is across the country, and how useful the Evernote add-on is for easy case-file notations.

Surprise sales are always nice, especially when you've got a weekend to spend with whatever you pick up from them. The PlayStation Blog has detailed the PlayStation Store's latest Flash Sale, which offers a range of PSOne and digital-only titles at an impulse-friendly 99 cent pricepoint.

Highlights from recent times include Papo & Yo, Machinarium, Double Dragon Neon and separately-offered PS3 and Vita versions of Thomas Was Alone. There's some love for the original PlayStation's library as well, with Dino Crisis 1 and 2, Legend of Dragoon, Harvest Moon: Back to Nature, Wild Arms 1 and 2 and the Syphon Filter trilogy up for grabs. You could always re-fuel some of your long-standing arcade rivalries with Virtual Fighter 2, too.

If you're a shrewd shopper no matter how low a price is, you've got plenty of time to decide – the Flash Sale runs until 3 p.m. EST on July 14.
[Image: Sony]
I have to admit, a good chunk of the reason I'm so excited for Warlords of Draenor has very little to do with whatever new content we'll be seeing, and far more to do with simply seeing Draenor as it was meant to be. I loved the Burning Crusade expansion -- the shredded landscape, the alien tranquility of Nagrand, the eerie sight of planets hanging in the sky. But even more than the scenery, I loved the NPCs. Burning Crusade introduced a ton of really entertaining NPCs, many of whom had little in the way of quests to give, but plenty to provide in the way of entertainment, like Cro Threadstrong, Asric and Jadaar, Granny Smith, Griftah, and more.

Sure, I'm excited to see the landscape as it was meant to be, pristine and untouched. I'm really looking forward to seeing Nagrand as it was meant to be, and Shattrath City, and places like Netherstorm, which likely look nothing like the torn landscapes from Burning Crusade. And I know we're going to see familiar faces like Akama, Nobundo, Velen, Drek'Thar, Durotan, Draka and others -- big names in Warcraft lore. But what I'm really hoping is that we'll see those random, weird, delightful NPCs, too. I want to see what Jadaar was up to before he paired up with Asric. Let's see if Cro was always a leatherworker, or if he took a different path entirely on this version of Draenor.

What do you guys think? Did you play during Burning Crusade, and if so, who was your favorite NPC? Do you have a familiar face you'd like to see in Warlords?

All Xbox 360 Guitar Hero Games World Tour, 3, 2, Aerosmith

Planning to make it big in the music industry by releasing a hit album? Dream On. A long forgotten PC Mag article resurfaced this week to remind us that the music industry had changed drastically over the last decade. According to Activision chief Bobby Kotick circa 2008, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith "generated far more in revenues than any Aerosmith album ever has." The game in question has sold over four million copies to date, droves more than most album sales in the modern market. An amazing fact, but don't act too surprised: headlining bands have always depended on the power of their brand to move merchandise and T-shirts as much as their albums. Still, it's a heck of a way to highlight the dilemma of the modern celebrity: who you are may be more important than what you do.

[Image credit: PhilipRood.com/Flickr]

The jump from Sony's Xperia Z1 to the Xperia Z2 was relatively minor, so don't be surprised if this familiar-looking leak turns out to be legit. According to a Baidu Tieba post (which has since been deleted), we're looking at a prototype of Sony's upcoming Xperia Z3 aka L55t (China Mobile variant with TD-LTE) which is, surprise surprise, running on a more powerful Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC chipset (the Z2 uses MSM8974AB) plus Android 4.4.4. Judging by the photos, this device shares the same height as the original Galaxy Note and hence the Xperia Z2, meaning the screen size should stay at 5.2 inches. Likewise, the Z2's 20.7-megapixel camera is here to stay. What makes this prototype stand out is its new, simpler body design, which is a surprise given how the range's appearance has changed little since the Xperia Z. That is, unless, this phone turns out to be just a variant of the Z2, so only time will tell if our guess is right.

The gameplay teaser for Life on a Mountain is oddly enchanting – it features a pixelated blob as a main character, a cave and a snowy landscape, and somehow with these vague elements it tells a charming story. We swear, the room got colder as we watched.

Life on a Mountain comes from Luftrausers and Nuclear Throne music maker Jukio Kallio, and he describes it as "a video game about breathing the fresh air of the mountain and thinking about all the secrets it might hide." So far, it looks like a simplistic blend of Don't Starve and Nuclear Throne, with characters that look as if they're related to Offspring Fling.

There's no word on a development timeline, but Kallio submitted a build to Fantastic Arcade, the independent gaming show in Austin, Texas.
[Images: Jukio Kallio]
Everybody's a new player to a particular MMO at some point, even if grizzled vets would like you to believe that they were already at the level cap when the cosmos came into being. I think it's easy to forget how complex and mystifying these games can be to a fresh set of eyes, especially when one is coming into the game long after launch.

That's why I always applaud an MMO that puts an emphasis on supporting newbies with helpful advice and even structured mentorships. Two examples come to mind: Fallen Earth has a terrific help channel that's staffed with volunteers and CMs on a regular basis, and Anarchy Online had a player advisory group that roams the beginner zones looking to help lost players.

So which MMO do you think has the best newbie support system?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!
The latest group of games, 75 in total, have been granted distribution on Steam thanks to the approval of the Greenlight community. Included in the newly-picked games is The Sun at Night, Minicore Studios' run-and-gun game that stars Russian space dog Laika. The game first launched in February and is the first of three parts in the series. The second chapter, The Sky Below, is slated to arrive in October and will incorporate feedback from The Sun at Night into it.

Also approved for Steam is Ojtam Games' horror adventure game Bulb Boy. Inspired by Amanita Design's Machinarium and Sierra's 1991 adventure game Gobliiins, Bulb Boy stars a lightbulb-like boy that wakes from a nightmare to find his "Grandparaffin" and "Mothdog" missing. The game is currently raising funds to wrap its development via Kickstarter, seeking $40,000 by July 27, of which it's earned just over $7,500 as of this writing.
[Image: Minicore Studios]

When it comes to surfing the web, our options are limited: the market is dominated by three or four mainstream web browsers, all of which share major similarities in design and function. Unless you want to build your own browsing program, you're stuck with their modern browsing paradigms. For San Francisco programmer Stanislas Polu, that wasn't good enough, so, he created Breach -- an open source modular web browser designed to allow anybody to tweak and modify it on a whim.

Google didn't design Android Wear to emulate a smartphone's interface for a reason: the company believes it makes no sense doing so on such a tiny screen. Sadly, many early adopters find it cumbersome to launch third-party apps on the current design, prompting a developer to come up with the Wear Mini launcher to solve the problem. On vanilla Android Wear, you'd need to issue a voice command (which doesn't always conjure up the right app) or scroll through a list if you want to launch Evernote, Lyft, Duolingo, or any other app you have. If you install the Wear Mini Launcher, though, you'll get an app drawer (showing all your apps' icons like your phone does) that you can access by swiping from the top left edge of the screen. You can download it right now from Google Play, but note that its performance might vary depending on your device.


Microsoft's new Climatology app makes it simple to check weather conditions anywhere on Earth. Funny thing is, the company just released it for Android devices, with no Windows Phone app in sight. If you do use Android, the Microsoft Research-developed app can show you a location's temperature, humidity and the average amount of rain and sunshine it'll get during a particular month. Say, you're going to Thailand on a vacation in November -- just look up the place and choose a month to know if it's sunny enough to hit the country's beaches. It could be pretty useful if you travel a lot and need a quick way to check the weather. A single look at the app's Play page shows that most people find its feature set quite limited, though, so you may want to hold off on deleting your other weather apps.

Update (07/12/14): Climatology is now available for Windows Phone devices.

Sony's still searching high and low for the kind of folks that need a replacement for regular paper and aren't too worried about the cost ($1,100). The latest potential buyers (after lawyers and HR departments) of its 13.3-inch E Ink Digital Paper? Legal researchers. Sony's teamed up with William S. Hein & Co. (which runs the LexisNexis-like HeinOnline database that gives access to documents from legal libraries) so anyone who uses the device can pull from its more than 100 million pages and see them just as they were originally laid out, without zooming or scrolling. It's still a pretty pricey upgrade from tech that's worked effectively for around 2,000 years, but legal librarians and law students can probably do without the reams of paper they've been printing out until now.

For awhile, Applebee's wanted its customers to be using more tech at the dinner table -- embedding tablets throughout its restaurants. Then third-parties caught on and created Applebee's specific social networks. Now the restaurant seems to be backing away from the future of devices-assisted eating, and has filed a trademark application for "No tech Tuesday." In all seriousness, Applebee's wouldn't be the first restaurant to try and keep its customers focused on each other instead of their phones, but a "No tech Tuesday" promotion could make it the first to implement such a policy on a large scale. Still, the gimmick will be a hard sell at restaurants that have already installed the aforementioned table tablets.

Episode 4 of The Walking Dead's second season is dubbed "Amid the Ruins," but we doubt it takes place in an ancient Mayan temple or anything like that. Two new screenshots from the episode depict tense, mid-battle scenes: One shows Clementine splattered in blood and wielding an axe while surrounded by zombies, and the other has her back-to-back with other survivors, pointing a gun at someone – and not looking very pleased about it.

Amid the Ruins should be out this month. On today's photo feast, Telltale says to look out for news next week regarding the episode's launch.
[Images: Telltale]

Wireless smartphone chargers have been around for quite sometime, but they usually forgo attractive aesthetics and any added functionality. Those who prefer a much more attractive option now have one with Swich: an accessory that lifts that handset off of your desk without a tether, keeping all of its buttons accessible while lending a better viewing angle. The units are constructed with sustainable American walnut and ceramics, adding a mirco-suction grip to keep gadgets from slipping while they recharge. The panel on which that daily driver rests also rotates to accommodate both landscape and portrait orientations. Of course, you'll need a Qi-compatible device or a case that adds the functionality, but those unable to pass up dapper design can snag a unit for $170 via Kickstarter.