Monthly Archive: March 2017

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FaceTune’s new Memoji app morphs your selfies into animated emojis

This isn’t an April Fools’ joke: the developer behind Facetune made an app that turns your face into an emoji.

Israel-based Lightricks’ newest app, Memoji[1], blends emoji cartoon characters with an image of your face. In other words, you can now emojify your selfies. The app uses artificial intelligence and image-processing technology to animate any the selfie so that it goes along with the applied emoji to reflect a feeling or emotion.

The developer’s other popular app, Facetune, uses similar technology to make selfies look more beautiful. Meitu is yet another app that has made headlines in recent months for its ability to edit selfies so that they’re flawless. These beautifying and face-morphing tricks can even be found in apps like Snapchat and Facebook, both of which allow you to broadcast and then apply lenses that can either alter your face or your background – all in real time.

But unlike those apps, Memoji is more about transforming selfies after the fact to reflect an emotion like happy, shocked, or sad. The image is instantly adjusted, animated, and overlaid with parts of an emoji, such as sunglasses. You can then share your creation as a GIF, video, or image. Unfortunately, Memoji is only available for iOS.

It’s a free download from Apple’s App Store. An Android version is reportedly in the works, though.

References

  1. ^ Memoji (itunes.apple.com)
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Our (Final?) List of Top 25 Wii U Games

We rank our favorite games on Nintendo’s Wii U home console.

By IGN’s Nintendo Crew[1]

Last Updated: March 30, 2017

The Wii U’s game library has received its final updates following the release of the Nintendo Switch — including the very amazing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It was a good run! After much deliberation, we’ve settled on a list of 25 games that should be your permanent Wii U collection.

A quick note on the Top 25 Wii U Games list: The primary question this top 25 list is intended to answer is simple: “What are the 25 best games we played on Wii U?” Our choices were based on how much fun we had with the games (our primary concern), but we also considered elements like longevity/staying power, innovation, and influence on later games.

25. New Super Luigi U

New Super Luigi U is a special platformer dedicated to the high jumping and much less nimble Mario brother. But NSLU did more than simply toss Luigi out of the limelight, Nintendo used it as an opportunity to remind us just how hardcore a platformer can get.

24. Affordable Space Adventures

Affordable Space Adventures takes an ambient trip to the stars and turns it into a stealth trek through a hostile alien world. It’s an intimidating adventure, but each time a new ship ability opened up, we got to use it to solve another intelligently designed puzzle and sneak further into its labyrinthine levels. It’s a fun single-player game, but it’s genius co-op concept, where up to two friends can help pilot your ship using Wii U controllers, makes it a truly unique Wii U experience.

23. Steamworld Dig

In Steamworld Dig you power up a robot hero by finding and collecting hidden items, opening up a sprawling game map as you progress. The genius twist is that you explore the environment by mining into the earth itself, building your own unique in-game map filled with tunnels, mine shafts, teleporters and more.

22. Yoshi’s Woolly World

Yoshi’s Woolly World continues Nintendo’s tradition of taking a beloved franchise and mixing things up with an adorable and fun new style. The many yarn worlds to traverse are stuffed with fluffy charm and utilize an arts-and-craft-y style to create thoughtful platforming puzzles that are a joy to behold — both for the casual player and hardcore collectible finder, alike.

21. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a great platformer full of tense sequences and tough levels. Boss battles are a huge highlight, and it’s packed with hard-to-find secrets and collectibles.

20. LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Peppered with rib-tickling humor and superb voice work, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the best Star Wars game you can play on Wii U… Or any current console. The levels are well-paced, constantly switching between brawling, exploration, puzzle-solving, vehicular combat, and cover-based shooting. The arcade-style freeform space combat stages are especially well-constructed, and seamless cooperative multiplayer makes things even better with a friend. An absolutely huge roster of unlockable characters and tons of hidden power-ups guarantee you’ll keep going back to replay the best stages again and again.

19. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

Each towering foe in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is an endurance trial that demands coordinated teamwork. The reward? Some of the best team-based gameplay on Wii U, along with the ability to craft cool gear, too. Monster Hunter has a steep learning curve, but the reward of toppling titan-sized monsters makes it all worth it.

18. Axiom Verge

Axiom Verge is more than a tribute to its side-scrolling predecessors like Super Metroid — although it certainly isn’t shy about its love of Metroid. Created by one-man development team Tom Happ, Axiom Verge is a smartly-designed adventure that offers a satisfying sense of progression thanks to new weapons, abilities, and memorable bosses to battle always being thrown into the mix. And the game’s brilliant glitch gun adds a welcome twist to exploration, introducing an inventive, and fun, reason to give backtracking meaning to the game’s journey. While it may not necessarily unseat the classics that came before it, Axiom Verge is a worthy successor.

17. Xenoblade Chronicles X

Xenoblade Chronicles X is a massive RPG with enough surface area, sub quests, and customization to keep you busy for many hours. It took me 73 hours to finish the main story and there’s still lots of things left to do in the vast, colorful world of Mira.

16. Rayman Legends

Rayman Legends’ vibrant world reinvigorated the fast and furious platformer, and it presented a game that uses Wii U’s GamePad for multiplayer in fun ways. Colorful, distinct, and full of silly ideas, Rayman Legends is a reminder that 2D platformers can still be chock full of fun ideas.

Continues[2]

References

  1. ^ IGN’s Nintendo Crew (people.ign.com)
  2. ^ Continues (www.ign.com)
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The Best Video Game April Fools’ Day Pranks So Far

Every year popular games release patches with special content celebrating April Fools’ Day, and some studios even make special browser games to celebrate the silly day. These DLC drops usually occur on or just before April 1st. Here’s a list of all the April Fools Day 2017 game pranks and gags.

Also, be sure to check out these amazing April Fools Day internet pranks from around the web[1], as well as these samples from IGN’s long history of April Fools’ Day pranks.[2]

Add cool gaming pranks you’ve found around the web to the wiki by hitting the Edit Page button or let us know which we’re missing in the comments blow.

EditFinal Fantasy Tactics Alexander

Square Enix released a trailer with little other information for Tactics Alexander, a beautiful 16-bit spinoff of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. 

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Play Ms. Pac-Man on any street with the the Google Maps app. Places with lots of streets work best!

Asuka’s grandmother has joined the Peach Beach Splash character roster. She is said to have been quite the looker when she participated in PBS in the past, and has returned! [1]

Nintendo’s Japanese website is advertising a brand-new Fire Emblem game for the Nintendo Switch and 3DS, featuring 8-bit graphics. 

This “classic” Fire Emblem could be pretty cool! [2]

The GeForce GTX G-Assist takes advantage of cutting-edge NVIDIA artificial intelligence to bring you the next revolution in gaming for 10,080 games. It comes with a variety of next-level features:

  • GeForce GhostPlay – Never leave your teammates without you again. Pizza at the door? Nature calls? GhostPlay will take over and play at your skill level for you until you return.
  • Boss Boost – Once per game, Boss Boost will automatically destroy an enemy and automatically turn on ShadowPlay to capture your decisive “victory.”
  • NVIDIA Nurture – Too busy gaming to take care of yourself and your significant other? NVIDIA Nurture has you covered. Not only will it automatically have food and GeForce GTX ENERGY supplied to you, but it will remember to order thoughtful gifts for your significant other, too.
  • GeForce GameTrain – No longer will you have to watch YouTube tutorials to get better. Now you can learn from the best of the best all in-game with helpful pointers and visual cues.

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When players deny a creep in Dota 2, the old exclamation mark confirming the deny is changed to a question mark. [4]

Check out this year’s April Fools’ Day Internet Pranks[3], too!

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Filming mosquitoes reveals a completely new approach to flight

Enlarge[1] / See that vortex on the back edge of the wing? That means lift.

It’s unmistakable. A high-pitched whine tells you you’re sharing a room with a mosquito, and you are unlikely to end the evening without some itchy welts. The sound alone is enough to make you shudder.

You’re not imagining things. Within the insect world, mosquitoes have a distinctive flight, with a short wing stroke and a very high frequency of wing beats. And now, researchers have figured out the physics behind their flight. They have identified two mechanisms for generating lift that had not previously been seen in any animal. “Much of the aerodynamic force that supports [the mosquito’s] weight,” the authors conclude, “is generated in a manner unlike any previously described for a flying animal.”

The work, done by a small team of Japanese and UK researchers, involved setting up a series of eight high-speed cameras to capture every instant of a mosquito’s wing flap from multiple angles. The resulting data allowed them to create a digital model of the wings as they went through a full stroke. This was then used to solve fluid dynamics equations for the air around the wings, letting the researchers track the movement of the air as the wing beat through it.

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Digitizing the forces involved in a mosquito’s flight.

For starters, the measurements confirmed that a mosquito’s wings beat at a frequency of over 700Hz. This is much faster than most other insects and explains the mosquito’s distinctive whine. The other distinctive feature is that the sweep of the wing (the total angle it travels) during the wing beat is less than 40 degrees—”less than half the smallest amplitude yet measured for any hovering animal.”

The models found that lift is generated by three distinct mechanisms. The first, a leading edge vortex, is common in other insects. (In fact, it’s critical to the flight of the bumblebee, which was once thought to have a wing that was too small to generate the lift it clearly does.) During the downward sweep of the wing, a vortex of air is generated in front of the leading edge of the wing and then loops back over the wing. This creates an area of low pressure above the wing, providing some lift.

But this only happens while the wing is sweeping downwards. Because of the mosquito’s short wing stroke, the wing doesn’t beat downwards for long. Something else must be going on.

One part of that something else is a trailing edge vortex. Normally, this vortex forms at the back edge of the wing and then moves off away from it (it’s said to detach from the wing). That means a trailing edge vortex doesn’t generate lift. But the mosquito wing stroke is such that, as soon as the animal stops its downward stroke and reverses its wing upwards, the wing runs into the trailing edge vortex. The vortex happily reattaches to the wing, providing it some lift. Here, the short wing stroke is an advantage, because the wing spends more time with a trailing edge vortex attached.

No one has ever seen this before

Mechanism three had been postulated when people were modeling wings, but no one had ever seen it before. It has to do with what happens when the wing reaches the top of its upwards stroke and starts to reverse course downward. Here, the wing has to rotate a bit, and the central point of this rotation starts off at the leading edge of the wing, near where the wing meets the body. This rotation also creates an area of low pressure on top of the wing that adds some lift. But normally, it’s gone so quickly that the lift is insignificant.

The mosquito manages to stretch this out and gets much more lift. It does this, in part, by slowly shifting the axis of wing rotation from the front of the wing to the rear. Second, the mosquito doesn’t rotate the whole wing at once. While the axis of rotation starts off near the junction with the body, it moves outward toward the tip gradually. Thus, while the portion of the wing near the body has already rotated and started beating downwards, the far tip is still being drawn upwards; rotation is still going on somewhere about two-thirds of the way down the wing.

The result is that at least some part of the wing is rotating for a large percentage of the mosquito’s wing beat. Thus, there’s an area of low pressure providing lift somewhere on the wing for a greater fraction of the wing beat. Add in how the wing beat is very quick and short, and this generates lift for a big fraction of the overall wing beat.

Thus, the fast wing beat, while it sacrifices lift from the leading edge vortex, allows two other sources of lift to move from making negligible contributions to becoming major factors in the mosquito’s flight.

The striking thing about the mosquito’s method isn’t the physics of the air movement; it’s the exquisite wing control that’s required to get so much out of a short wing stroke. That, and the fact that no other animal appears to be doing any of this. We may eventually find others, but those discoveries will do nothing to make the whine of the mosquito any less impressive or annoying.

Nature, 2017. DOI: 10.1038/nature21727[3]  (About DOIs[4]).

References

  1. ^ Enlarge (cdn.arstechnica.net)
  2. ^ 3 posters participating (arstechnica.com)
  3. ^ 10.1038/nature21727 (dx.doi.org)
  4. ^ About DOIs (arstechnica.com)