Half-Life: Alyx could be just the start, as Valve confirms more single-player games
It looks like more games are coming from Valve, after Valve president Gabe Newell confirmed the company was working on a number of new titles – seemingly galvanized by the success of Half-Life: Alyx.
“We definitely have games in development that we’re going to be announcing," said Newell, in an interview with 1 News, adding that "it’s fun to ship games.”
As ever, Newell wouldn't be drawn on details, dismissing a rumored title codenamed 'Citadel' that he claimed he'd never heard of: "We have a bunch of code names – are you referring to a code name? I don't know what 'Citadel' is."
But it seems like the launch of Half-Life: Alyx, a widely acclaimed VR game available to play on the Valve Index, as well as Oculus and HTC headsets, has inspired the developers in new ways – and more single-player titles seem certain.
“Alyx was great – to be back doing single-player games, that created a lot of momentum inside of the company to do more of that," said Newell.
Half-Life: Alyx was a surprise for fans of the Half-Life series, acting as a spin-off of the beloved sci-fi shooters, which have frustrated and fascinated many in the lack of a Half-Life 3 to tie its story threads together.
Valve hasn't appeared to pay too much attention to single-player games in its recent history, preferring to focus on the multiplayer Dota 2, or even its competitive card game Artifact. After the acquisition of Campo Santo, the developer behind Firewatch, though, it seemed that Valve was renewing an interest in the high-quality single-player storytelling it made its name on.
Supply and demand
The Valve Index VR headset has been on the market since 2019, and despite its high price tag compared to the likes of the Oculus Quest 2, garnered rave reviews for its high-spec hardware, intuitive Knuckle controllers, and wide field of vision – even if the SteamVR interface running on it could use some work.
Even for those keen to try out the headset, though, finding stock has been difficult. Newell delves into this in the interview cited above, claiming that necessary components for the headset were in extremely high demand at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, making further production impossible.
"We actually have components that are manufactured in Wuhan and when you're setting up your manufacturing lines it doesn't occur to you that you're suddenly going to be dependent on this peculiar transistor that's sitting on one board that you can't get," Newell said.
"Everybody ended up running into the same problem simultaneously – you go from, 'Oh, we're in great shape,' to, 'What do you mean Apple or Microsoft just bought the next two years' supply of this just so they could make sure they aren't going to run out?'
"You went from a situation where everything was getting done just in time to people buying up all the available supplies."
It might be a while until more people can try out the pleasures of the Index, though we're sure Facebook's Oculus Quest 2 will be able to fill in the gaps until then.
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These fake US government sites will just steal your data
The FBI has issued an advisory cautioning people against the prevalence of fake websites that spoof unemployment benefits websites in an attempt to harvest personal and financial information.
According to the bureau, the fake websites do a good enough job to pass casual scrutiny, and use the phished details to claim unemployment benefits on behalf of their victims.
“Cyber criminals have created these spoofed websites to collect personal and financial data from US victims. These spoofed websites imitate the appearance of and can be easily mistaken for legitimate websites offering unemployment benefits,” cautiones the FBI through its advisory.
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In its advisory, the FBI notes that it has identified some 385 domains that are all hosted by the same IP address. Seven these it believes impersonate government domains pertaining to unemployment benefits
Gateway to scams
The FBI’s intention with the advisory is to spread awareness about these scams. To help users protect themselves, the advisory unravels the ploys typically employed by such fake websites.
The tricks work because cybercriminals very tactfully register website domain names and email addresses that appear quite similar to those of legitimate ones.
In the instance of faking websites that facilitate the processing of unemployment benefits, the FBI notes that the threat actors often rely on minor misspelling of words in the domain name, and even replace the top-level domain (TLD), such as .gov with .xyz.
Once tricked, the users are further lured into the scam thanks to the carefully crafted website, before eventually prompting users to share their sensitive personal and financial information.
“Cyber actors use this information to redirect unemployment benefits, harvest user credentials, collect personally identifiable information, and infect victim's devices with malware. In addition to a loss of benefits, victims of this activity can suffer a range of additional consequences, including ransomware infection and identity theft,” warns the FBI.