Hands-On: ‘Stranded Sails’ Is a Relaxing Farm Sim AdventureValve Steam Link App Brings Your PC Games to Mobile For years, Steam Greenlight was the way smaller developers could get their games on the Steam Store without the help of a publisher. Though Greenlight did help smaller games stand out, the system itself wasn’t without its flaws. Now, Greenlight will be taken down and replaced with something called Steam Direct.Here is how Steam Direct will work according to Valve:“We will ask new developers to complete a set of digital paperwork, personal or company verification, and tax documents similar to the process of applying for a bank account. Once set up, developers will pay a recoupable application fee for each new title they wish to distribute, which is intended to decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.”Instead of relying on upvotes, developers will now submit their games directly to the Steam Store. Valve will check to see if game files run correctly and, according to VentureBeat, make sure they are actually games. This sounds like it could lead to a flood of shovelware, but Valve feels confident that its current Steam algorithm can sort the good from the bad.Right now, Valve doesn’t know how much it will charge developers to put their games on Steam Direct. Developers Valve has spoken with have advocated for fees as low as $100 and as high as $5000. Valve wants to get feedback from more developers before settling on a final price.“We want to make sure Steam is a welcoming environment for all developers who are serious about treating customers fairly and making quality gaming experiences,” says Valve. “The updates we’ve made over the past few years have been paving the way for improvements to how new titles get on to Steam, and Steam Direct represents just one more step in our ongoing process of making Steam better.”Given the numerous criticisms lobbied at Steam Greenlight, this move was a long time coming. It’s entirely possible that Steam Direct may have its own set of issues. In fact, it more than likely will. Right now, we’ll have to wait until it launches this spring to find out how well (or how poorly) this whole thing is. Stay on target
We don’t all have that parental instinct required to keep house plants alive (my windowsill cactus has been shriveling up for months).Green thumbs be damned, though: Citizen Scientific Workshop (CSW) is crowdfunding the production of 100 Plantoid Robotics kits.The plant-brained cyborgs (essentially weeds on wheels) gravitate toward fresh air, water, and sunlight—ideal for the accidental plant killer in your life.Or, according to creator David Ultis’s vision, for “first-time robot builders of all ages.”“I came up with the concept for Plantoids when I noticed a lot of educational robotics kits taught very similar lessons,” Citizen Scientific Workshop President Ultis said in a statement.But the abstract models never expanded beyond artificial logic or intelligence, denying a level of connection between human and machine.“I wanted to incorporate something real and alive into a robot in order to affect its motivations and behaviors,” Ultis continued. “Now the plant organism’s life is elevated by abilities it never had before by being incorporated into a robot.”Only 16 days left in the all-or-nothing campaign (via Citizen Scientific Workshop)The key, according to CSW’s Kickstarter campaign, is using sensors and data to “expand and support the survival of the plant specimen.”Each kit comes with an Arduino-based microcontroller and sensor pack for determining soil moisture, air temperature and humidity, ambient light, and air quality.Designed for indoor and (some) outdoor terrain, the robot—shipping with tractor-wheel and treads kits—can communicate its current condition or sound an alarm using built-in LEDs and speaker.The DIY pack also includes a terrarium, live carnivorous plant specimen, and 3D-printed parts for at-home construction of your own roving Plantoid.CSW has so far collected more than $2,000 from 35 backers. But with 16 days left in its campaign, the organization is still chasing its $5,000 all-or-nothing goal.A full Plantoid robot kit, expected for global delivery in February, is available at an early-bird price of $64, or $139 for a two-pack.Supporters can also “adopt a garden” by pledging $389 or more: Choose a local botanical or community garden to receive six Plantoid kids and host a workshop. (Oh, and you get a laser-cut keychain and handwritten “thank you” card.)“With Plantoid Robots, we are bringing new educational activities to homes, classrooms, and gardens across the world,” the project page said. “The key is science, and through all experiments in science, something can be learned.”Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.
Last year’s biggest box office hits starred more women and people of color than any other year since 2007.Examining the 100 highest-grossing films from each of the past 12 years, a team from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that diversity took the lead in 2018.The study, released on Tuesday, examines the gender and race/ethnicity of each movie’s leading and co-leading characters—those that drive the storyline alone or share the journey equally. Ensembles are not included in this report.Forty of the top 100 films of 2018 featured a female in the lead or co-lead role—an uptick of 8 percent over 2017 and 20 percent since 2007, when the Initiative began tracking representation on screen.(via USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative)“Clearly, this is the highest percentage of female-driven films we have observed over the 12 years evaluated,” the report said.Of those leading ladies, 11 were at least 45 years old (versus five in 2017) and 11 portray marginalized racial/ethnic groups (versus four in 2017).But while that’s great news for feminists everywhere, it should be noted that these numbers still don’t properly mirror North America’s female population, nor the percentage of women buying cinema tickets.(via USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative)The same can be said for minority racial/ethnic groups.A record 28 hit movies featured an underrepresented lead or co-lead in 2018—up from 21 films in 2017 and 13 in 2007. Despite this positive uptick, though, the overall percentage remains below the U.S. Census.Last year, five female actors were black/African American, three were mixed race, two were Hispanic/Latina, and one was Asian/Asian American.“Unlike in previous years, women from a variety of different backgrounds were represented in top films,” the Initiative pointed out, “though Native women and women from the Middle East are still largely absent from leading roles.”Only four women of color over the age of 45 were shown driving the action.(via USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative)There would be no movies to see, though, without distribution companies—all but three of which (Sony, Fox, Warner Bros.) were at or near proportional representation of female leads in 2018.Sony, Lionsgate, Paramount, and Universal, meanwhile, led the pack in terms of underrepresented characters.“The remaining companies have room for significant improvement in this area,” USC Annenberg said.Every major studio had at least one woman of color in a leading role (Sony the only one in double digits), contributing to last year’s increase.(via USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative)“It is clear from the findings that 2018 was a notable year for storytelling with female characters and individuals from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups,” the Initiative said. “In particular, the intersectional gains surrounding the increase in women of color are worth celebrating.”“This research brief offers reason to congratulate those who have created change, and challenges them to continue to do so in the years ahead,” the group added.In a recent survey, conducted by BBC America and the Women’s Media Center, more than 2,400 participants—girls and boys ages five to 19—expressed a desire for more female and non-white champions in the sci-fi and superhero genre.More on Geek.com:Study: Women Are Abused on Twitter Every 30 SecondsSurprise: Half of Women in STEM Experience Gender DiscriminationScience Fiction Really Hasn’t Been Good to Women Girls Want — And Need — More Female Superheroes Stay on target