Technological World for July 14: Timbre Games opens in Vancouver, the deathly Deathloop, new convo settings in Twitter, what Canadians need to know about Amazon Sidewalk

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This week, a closer look at Deathloop, coming to PS5 and Windows on September 14, a change to Twitter’s conversation settings, and what you need to know about Amazon Sidewalk. But first, meet Timbre Games, a new studio in Vancouver.

Timbre Games is a new development studio in Vancouver

A new game studio has been formed in Vancouver by three veterans. Timbre Games is a division of Oregon-based Pipeworks Studios, which is itself owned by Sumo Group.

At Timbre, Joe Nickolls is president, Geoff Coates is creative director, and Zöe Curnoe is the studio’s production director. All three have strong ties to the Vancouver game development community. Among other things, Coates worked on Company of Heroes and Dead Rising 4, Curnoe was production director for Gears of War, and Nickolls most recently was leading Maxis, the EA studio responsible for the Sims franchise.

Nickolls told VentureBeat that the plan is to “lean into action adventure and simulation, but we are not going to be doing extremely violent games or anything like that. We really want to make sure that we can provide accessible content for people across the board.”

The studio hasn’t announced anything in terms of games in development. They are hiring.

In-depth look at PS5 exclusive Deathloop

Last week, we got a closer look at Deathloop than we’ve yet had. The new game, from Bethesda’s Arkane Studios, is exclusive to the PS5 on console (it’s also releasing for Windows).

Arkane created the Dishonored series of action adventure games and the alienesque, Prey, and it looks as though Deathloop is leveraging a bunch of ideas and designs from those games in terms of powers (the teleportation manoeuvre Blink is the most obvious) and aesthetics.

But Colt, the protagonist stuck in a deathly repeating day, also has powers of his own. In the gameplay demo here, he shows his Karnesis ability, which gives him the ability to grab enemies with a telekinesis-like power.

Deathloop is one of the new genre of rogue-like adventure games that involve players dying over and over while they learn the systems, and the world, and accumulate items to help them beat the game. Hades and Returnal are two recent examples.

One thing that is quite different with Deathloop, though, is the primary antagonist in the game, a character named Julianna.

Like the player, who is Colt in Deathloop, Julianna retains memories of previous days in the loop. This makes her powerful and deadly, and she comes into the game either controlled by the game’s AI, or under the control of another player who has chosen to enter your game.

If Julianna kills you, Colt’s day immediately starts over from the beginning. If you kill her, you get a refill of your two “Reprise” charges, which rewinds time for Colt only, and is key to being able to solve the puzzle of the loop.

There are levels of metagame going on in Deathloop that I love. I can’t wait to play when the game releases on September 14.

Twitter now allows you to manage who can reply to your posts after you’ve tweeted

Since last summer, Twitter users have been able to restrict who can comment on their posts. As of this week, this functionality is available even after a post has published.

The idea is that people might find that a tweet of theirs has gone viral or is receiving unwanted attention.

There are three options for replies:

  • anyone can reply
  • only people you follow can reply
  • only people mentioned in the post can reply

The new conversation setting is available in the three-dot menu of a twitter message and is available through all Twitter apps, including the website.

What you need to know about Amazon Sidewalk

In the United States in June, Amazon launched a new free service called Sidewalk.

What Sidewalk does is automatically connect all of the various Amazon devices to all the other Amazon devices, creating a vast mesh network of sorts from the internet connections. This includes various Echo smart speakers and displays as well as some of the Ring surveillance devices.

Sidewalk is billed as a convenience, and it certainly can provide the convenience that a community-wide – city-wide? country-wide? – mesh network can provide.

How Sidewalk was rolled out in the U.S., though, is where there is a problem.

Even though Sidewalk is an optional feature, it was automatically activated on applicable devices, which means that unless someone knows about this, their network and everything on it is potentially at risk.

This violates the tech first principle of “explicitly ask for permission”.

There’s also an impact on a customer’s internet connectivity cap, because other devices not known to you could be using space without you knowing. Not to mention the data mining possibilities and threats of bad actors taking advantage of these “windows” into our lives.

I contacted Amazon in May to find out whether Sidewalk would be launching in Canada, and was told the company had nothing to say. I’ve assumed that means Sidewalk is not working in Canada, but we’ve got no idea what Amazon Canada has planned.

If (when?) Sidewalk comes north of the 49th, everyone with Amazon devices in their homes should know how to opt-out.

For Echo devices:

  1. Open the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet
  2. In the three-line menu, navigate to More, Settings, Account settings
  3. Select Amazon Sidewalk
  4. Select Disable

For Ring devices:

  1. Open the Ring app on your smartphone or tablet
  2. In the three-line menu, navigate to Control center
  3. Select Amazon Sidewalk
  4. Select Disable, and confirm

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