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Rogue One’s Oscar-nominated visual effects came courtesy of a Vive

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is up for an Academy Award tonight in visual effects, and if it cops an Oscar the artists who worked on it will have a Vive to thank, in part. The BBC went behind the scenes of how Rogue One filmed its CGI sequences, particularly the ones in space, which, duh, are not filmed on location. Graphics supervisor Steve Ellis noted that director Gareth Edwards patrols his set in a very hands-on way before setting up his shot. The Vive, mashed up with an iPad, allowed him to do somewhat the same thing in VR with Industrial Light & Magic artists in London and San Francisco. What they did, more or less, was strap a Vive controller to the tablet and then Edwards could, in a rough-draft way, more easily show the artists what was in his mind's eye rather than try to...

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PlayStation VR sales figures revealed in exec’s interview

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PlayStation VR has sold 915,000 units to consumers since it launched in October, reports The New York Times, coming close to an internal goal Sony set of pushing 1 million units within the hardware's first six months of availability. The Times led its story about virtual reality's consumer appeal with that figure, getting it from Andrew House, the chief executive of Sony Interactive Entertainment worldwide. Moreover, House indicated that even if no more than 10 percent of PlayStation 4's installation base buy PlayStation VR, he would be "very happy." The statements are intriguing because practically no one in the video games industry talks raw sales figures, much less their expectations for them, unless it’s really good news. Sony has been glad to talk about the sales performance of...

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Shadow of Mordor sequel hinted at in retail listing

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Something called Middle-earth: Shadow of War has appeared on Target's online store for pre-order, possibly leaking out a sequel (or successor) to 2014's critically acclaimed Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. The listing shows a launch date of Aug. 22. Two links, one for PlayStation 4 and one for Xbox One (shown), were still active as of 11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday. Industry sleuth Wario64 was alerted to it on a tipster and reported it first over Twitter. Polygon has reached out to Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for a comment on what's going on here. There are product pages for the game on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, developed by Monolith, launched in September 2014 on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One (and later on PS3 and Xbox 360). Middle-earth:...

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Out of the Park Baseball’s cover contest says the hell with it, vote for 11 guys

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Fan-voted covers for sports video games have been a thing for about seven years now, with that trend waning somewhat lately. Few have been as in touch with their community as what Out of the Park Baseball 18 is doing with its. The sports management simulation, which last year acquired group licensing entitling it to every Major League Baseball player's likeness (in addition to all the clubs), is doing an 11-man lineup, with a manager, for its cover. While there are some big namers on the ballot (Manny Machado of Baltimore, Jose Bautista in Toronto, Clayton Kershaw of Los Angeles) it's charming to see rookies like Trea Turner for Washington and Nomar Mazara of Texas among the choices, too. Nine of the 20 players were All-Star selections, so this isn't simply a popularity contest. M...

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Samsung’s new VR headset includes a controller

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With more than 5 million smartphone-powered Gear VR headsets already on the market, Samsung today announced an upgrade to the system that includes a controller. The new curved controller features a touchpad and is designed to be used and held like a remote control. Samsung says the touchpad supports various forms of motion, including the ability to point, drag and drop, tilt and shoot. The controller also has a trigger and Home, Volume and Back keys. The Gear VR headset itself includes a strap for holding the controller when not in use. It appears the rest of the specs are the same, which means it has 42mm lenses, 101-degree field of view and advanced distortion correction technology. The headset supports both a micro USB and USB type-C port with an included converter. The headset, like...

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Speedrunner finally beats 714 NES games after three years

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In May 2014, Piotr Delgado “Mexican Speedrunner” Kusielczuk decided he would speedrun through the entire NES archive of games — 714 in total. Today, ending with Super Mario Bros. 3, Kusielczuk finally accomplished his goal, bringing an end to “NESMania.” Kusielczuk spent more than 3,000 hours making his way through the library of titles — an endeavor that started after a friend jokingly suggested he take an “A-Z” approach to speedrunning each of the 714 games. Instead of only playing the games for a couple of minutes at a time, Kusielczuk’s friend from Chile challenged him to play through each of the titles from beginning to end. On his blog, Kusielczuk said from the very beginning of the challenge, when he dove into Whomp ‘Em on May 28, 2014 to the drama that came around game #395...

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Elite: Dangerous ‘predicted’ the discovery of the Trappist-1 system

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This week, astronomers announced the discovery of the Trappist 1 system, 39.5 light years away, which contains seven rocky worlds orbiting their star within a zone believed to support liquid water, therefore good candidates for life. It turns out that a while ago, the wide-open spacefaring adventure Elite: Dangerous, through its algorithm, created a system that closely matches the real one, and not only that, put it in the same location relative to our Solar System. Frontier Developments made this discovery itself when it went looking to recreate the Trappist-1 system in the game, as it's done in the past for other discoveries (notably the exploration of Pluto and its satellite in 2015). David Braben, the game's director, explained the game's Stellar Forge engine and how it generates...

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Twitch lets you change your username now

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Twitch has made good on its community's most frequent request: Changing one's username. Whether the original one you chose now sucks, or you want to make it consistent with a gamertag on some other service, the choice is yours. The feature was announced yesterday afternoon and immediately went live. The option is found in the Profile Settings page of one's Twitch account. An option to change the username is highlighted beside the existing one. That said, streamers who are concerned about maintaining their statistics should be sure export them prior to changing the name. The Twitch blog noted that in testing out the feature, Twitch discovered that some streamers lost access to their stats. Twitch also pointed out that outdated URLs will not redirect to new account names. So anyone...

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Secret Hitler makers ship their game to every U.S. senator

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Secret Hitler is a board game produced by Max Temkin, who was behind Cards Against Humanity. It published last year after a successful 2015 Kickstarter that raised $1.4 million. While the name itself is chortle-inducing and the fun is in figuring out which one of your friends is the closet fascist, it makes a very real point about how such leaders come to power. This week, its creators sent a copy to each of the 100 members of the United States Senate. The makers of Secret Hitler — Mike Boxleiter, Tommy Maranges and Temkin — explain that Hitler himself "required the cooperation of well meaning men who hoped to appease and control the Nazis." Regardless of his political aims, that fairly describes how Donald Trump backed into the Republican nomination against a weak establishment afraid...

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Video game releases for March 2017

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Here are some of the big video game releases for the month of March 2017. Be sure to check out the list we put together of our most anticipated games of 2017 and subscribe to Polygon's YouTube channel for tons of gaming videos. Also, here are the free games you get with your Xbox Live Gold subscription this month. Additionally, here's what is coming to your favorite video streaming services and here's what is leaving in March. What are you looking forward to playing? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments. Note: This is not a comprehensive list of releases and only games with specific dates are listed below. Some games are announced for March but have no firm release date. Mar. 3: Nintendo Switch — Nintendo's newest hardware is a console/portable hybrid...

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