Minecraft is getting a free update that brings much-improved lighting and color to the game’s blocky graphics using real-time ray tracing running on Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics hardware. The new look is a dramatic change in the atmospherics of the game, and manages to be eerily realistic while retaining Minecraft’s pixelated charm.
The ray tracing tech will be available via a free update to the game on Windows 10 PCs, but it’ll only be accessible to players using an Nvidia GeForce RTX GPU, since that’s the only graphics hardware on the market that currently supports playing games with real-time ray tracing active.
It sounds like it’ll be an excellent addition to the experience for players who are equipped with the right hardware, however – including lighting effects not only from the sun, but also from in-game materials like glowstone and lava; both hard and soft shadows depending on transparency of material and angle of light refraction; and accurate reflections in surfaces that are supposed to be reflective (ie. gold blocks, for instance).
This is welcome news after Minecraft developer Mojang announced last week that it cancelled plans to release its Super Duper Graphics Pack, which was going to add a bunch of improved visuals to the game, because it wouldn’t work well across platforms. At the time, Mojang said it would be sharing news about graphics optimization for some platforms “very soon,” and it looks like this is what they had in mind.
Nvidia meanwhile is showing off a range of 2019 games with real-time ray tracing enabled at Gamescom 2019 in Cologne, Germany, including Dying Light 2, Cyperpunk 2077, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Watch Dogs: Legion.Read More
Disrupt Berlin 2019, our premier European tech conference, takes place on 11-12 December and draws 3,000 people from more than 50 countries. Every year we work hard to improve our content programming and present it in new and engaging ways to a very savvy startup audience. This year be sure to check out the Extra Crunch Stage for information you can put in place back at the home base.
If you need to buy a super early-bird pass to Disrupt Berlin, why not take care of that essential detail now? Go ahead…we’ll wait.
Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming. On the Extra Crunch Stage, we’re focusing on the founders, investors and tech leaders who’ve been there, done that, who will provide how-to content, practical tips and actionable advice that founders need to succeed in the European tech landscape.
The new name and mission come from TC’s recently launched subscription product. Designed for our most engaged readers, this extra crunchy layer of gated content goes deep on entrepreneurial and startup topics like inclusion and diversity, hiring practices, legal and product decisions, as well as mental health and wellness in high-performance businesses.
Treat yourself to an Innovator, Founder or Investor pass, because that’s the only way you’ll gain access to this Extra Crunchy wisdom. Those same passes also provide access to all the fine content, speakers, panelists, interactive workshops and events that take place on the Main Stage, the Showcase Stage and in the Q&A sessions.
That’s a whole lot to take in, and you’ll be busy indeed as you explore hundreds of early-stage startups exhibiting their tech and talent in Startup Alley. Marvel at the brilliant Startup Battlefield competitors vying for $50,000 as they launch on a global stage. Learn from our roster of speakers, …Read More
Want to give your kids access to Spotify, but only the “clean” stuff? It’ll be an option soon.
Spotify’s family plan — the one that gets you six accounts for 15 bucks — is picking up a feature that the company says people have been asking about for years: parental controls.
Under the new setup, the primary Spotify account holder will be able to toggle the explicit content filter for any of their sub-accounts. Once it’s on, said sub-accounts won’t be able to turn off the filter without the account admin’s help.
While Spotify has had an explicit content filter built in for a few years now, it was just a toggle the user could flip on and off for themselves— not something that parents could set on their kid’s accounts.
Spotify is also introducing a feature it’s calling “family mix” — a custom generated playlist composed of tracks that Spotify thinks everyone in the family will be into. Going on a family road trip and didn’t have time to make a playlist? Family mix might help keep everyone happy for a few more minutes before the little one starts demanding you put on Moana again.
The company says the new family features are rolling out in Ireland first, and it’ll roll out eveywhere else they offer family plans shortly thereafter.Read More
WeTransfer, the Amsterdam-headquartered company that is best know for its file-sharing service, is disclosing a €35 million secondary funding round.
The investment is led by European growth equity firm, HPE Growth, with “significant” participation from existing investor Highland Europe. Being secondary funding — meaning that a number of shareholders have sold all or a portion of their holding — no new money has entered WeTransfer’s balance sheet.
We are also told that Jonne de Leeuw, of HPE, will replace WeTransfer co-founder Nalden on the company’s Supervisory Board. He joins Bas Beerens (founder of WeTransfer), Irena Goldenberg (Highland Europe) and Tony Zappalà (Highland Europe).
The exact financial terms of the secondary funding, including valuation, aren’t being disclosed. However, noteworthy is that WeTransfer says it has been profitable for 6 years.
“The valuation of the company is not public, but what I can tell you is that it’s definitely up significantly since the Series A in 2015,” WeTransfer CEO Gordon Willoughby tells me. “WeTransfer has become a trusted brand in its space with significant scale. Our transfer service has 50 million users a month across 195 countries, sharing over 1.5 billion files each month”.
In addition to the wildly popular WeTransfer file-sharing service, the company operates a number of other apps and services, some it built in-house and others it has acquired. They include content sharing app Collect (claiming 4 million monthly users), sketching tool Paper (which has had 25 million downloads) and collaborative presentation tool Paste (which claims 40,000 active teams).
“We want to help people work more effectively and deliver more impactful results, with tools that collectively remove friction from every stage of the creative process — from sparking ideas, capturing content, developing and aligning, to delivery,” says Willoughby.
“Over the past two years, we’ve been investing heavily in …Read More
Singapore-based budget hotel booking startup RedDoorz is tiny in comparison to fast-growing giant Oyo. But it is holding its ground and winning the trust of an ever growing number of investors.
On Monday, the four-year-old startup announced it has raised $70 million in Series C round, less than five months after it closed its $45 million Series B. The new round, which is ongoing, was led by Asia Partners and saw participation from new investors Rakuten Capital and Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund.
The startup, which has raised $140 million to date, was seeing “tremendous interest from investors, so it is decided to do a back-to-back rounds,” said Amit Saberwal, founder and CEO of RedDoorz, in an interview with TechCrunch.
Regardless, the new funds will help RedDoorz fight SoftBank-backed Oyo, which is already aggressively expanding to new markets. Oyo currently operates in more than 80 nations.
RedDoorz operates a marketplace of “two-star, three-star and below” budget hotels, selling access to rooms to people. Currently it has 1,400 hotels on its network, said Saberwal.
The startup operates in 80 cities across Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam, and plans to use the new capital to expand its network in its existing markets, said Saberwal. At least for the next one year, RedDoorz has no plans to expand beyond the four markets where it currently operates, he said.
“Anything in the accommodation is our playground. We have all kinds of properties. We have three-star hotels, some hostels, so we will continue to go deeper and wider moving forward,” he said.
More to follow shortly…Read More
The Bugatti Centodieci is the French automaker’s most powerful supercar yet — coming in a skosh above the Chiron at 1,600 horsepower. But it’s not just the power — or the $8.9 million price tag — that makes the Centodieci stand out.
The angular supercar, still dotted with the signature Bugatti design elements, tips its hat to the mid-engine EB110 supercar that debuted in 1991 when the company was owned by Romano Artioli.
One look at the Bugatti Centodieci, which had its world debut at the Quail Gathering during Monterey Car Week, and it’s clear that the early 1990s supercar was an inspiration.
But the Centodieci isn’t a copycat of the wedge-shaped, seemingly two-dimensional EB110. Instead, Bugatti designers aimed to bring the EB110 into the modern era.
“Transporting this classic look into the new millennium without copying it was technically complex, to say the least,” Bugatti head designer Achim Anscheidt said in a statement. “We had to create a new way of combining the complex aerothermal requirements of the underlying Chiron technology with a completely different aesthetic appearance.”
The Centodieci, which means 110 in Italian to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the company’s founding, has a newly developed, deep-seated front spoiler along with three-section air intakes. The iconic Bugatti horseshoe is smaller than its counterparts — a decision made to fit in with the car’s the low-dropping front. The Centodieci also has new, very narrow headlamps with integrated LED daytime running lights and five round air inserts to ensure sufficient air intake for its 16-cylinder engine.
The nod to the 1990s ends inside the Centodieci. In here, it’s all modern-day engineering. The 8.0-liter W16 engine produces 1,600 horsepower and can accelerate from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 2.4 seconds. The top speed has been electronically …Read More
Tesla is pitching customers on a new rental offering for solar power as a way to revive the flagging fortunes of its renewable energy business.
Once among the largest installers of renewables in the country through SolarCity, Tesla has seen its share of the market decline significantly since its acquisition of SolarCity three years ago. In the second quarter Tesla deployed only 29 megawatts of new solar installations, while the number one and two providers of consumer solar, SunRun and Vivint Solar installed 103 megawatts and 56 megawatts respectively.
According to Musk, the new program is “like having a money printer on your roof” for potential customers who live in states with high energy costs. “Still better to buy,” Musk exhorted, “but the rental option makes the economics obvious.”
Unlike SunRun and Vivint, which both used partnerships with homebuilders and retailers like Home Depot, BJ’s Wholesale, Costco and Sam’s Club to acquire customers, Tesla slashed ended door-to-door marketing and abandoned its partnership with Home Depot. The company began relying almost entirely on direct sales to power its solar business and eschewed the no-money-down lease model, which SolarCity had used so effectively.
Under the new system, Telsa is offering customers the option to rent solar systems for anywhere from $65 for a small installation to $195 for its largest installation. Customers only need to pay a fully refundable $100 charge.
Tesla said the contract can be canceled any time, but it would charge users $1,500 to remove the system once it has been installed.
Tesla did not …Read More
When we reviewed “Another Life” last week, we described it as an old-fashioned science fiction space show, something that’s been absent from TV for the past decade or so. “Wu Assassins” is another new Netflix series, and it’s also is a kind of a throwback — this time to ’90s martial arts series like “Vanishing Son” and “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues.”
As we explain in the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, “Wu Assassins” — which tells the story of Kai, a San Francisco chef who receives mystical powers and must battle powerful nemeses known as the Wu Lords — has plenty of delightfully cheesy writing and special effects. But it’s set apart from those older shows in a couple key ways.
First, there’s the fact that Indonesian martial arts star Iko Uwais (who you might recognize from “The Raid” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) plays as Kai — he’s not a great dramatic actor, but once the action starts, he becomes a blur of punches and kicks.
The producers have surrounded Uwais with other other accomplished martial artists, so the resulting fight scenes are extraordinary. “Wu Assassins” includes a couple big set pieces, but even more remarkably, every single fight (and there are plenty) feels like it’s been choreographed for the perfect mix of beauty and brutality.
Even better, there’s Byron Mann’s performance as Uncle Six, a ruthless triad boss who has a long history with Kai. Mann brings real charisma and humanity to his performance, and he turns his dramatic scenes with Uwais into absolute highlight of the show. Plus, he’s just as compelling when he’s called upon to beat the crap out of his enemies.
In addition to praising “Wu Assassins,” we also discuss the CBS-Viacom merger and listener response to our review …Read More
This week the New York Times published a five-years-later retrospective on Gamergate and its aftereffects, which is chilling and illuminating, and you should go read it. It makes an excellent case — several excellent written cases, actually — that “everything is Gamergate,” that it and its hate-screeching online mobs were the prototype for all the culture and media wars since and to come.
Sadly, the lesson expounded herein by the NYT is one which they — and other media — do not yet seem to have actually learned themselves.
Let’s look at another piece which called Gamergate a template for cultural warfare, using the media as a battleground. This one was written back in 2014, by one Kyle Walker, in Deadspin, and its scathing, take-no-prisoners real-time analysis was downright prophetic. A few of its most important passages:
Gamergate is […] a relatively small and very loud group of video game enthusiasts who claim that their goal is to audit ethics in the gaming-industrial complex and who are instead defined by the campaigns of criminal harassment that some of them have carried out against several women […] What’s made it effective, though, is that it’s exploited the same basic loophole in the system that generations of social reactionaries have: the press’s genuine and deep-seated belief that you gotta hear both sides … that anyone more respectable than, say, an avowed neo-Nazi is operating in something like good faith
It is now clear to us all that that last statement is no longer correct … in that it is far too optimistic. Two years ago, the NYT made it apparent that they are in fact willing to assume “an avowed neo-Nazi is operating in something like good faith,” when they published a piece about “the Nazi sympathizer next door,” one …Read More
Hey. This is Week-in-Review, where I give a heavy amount of analysis and/or rambling thoughts on one story while scouring the rest of the hundreds of stories that emerged on TechCrunch this week to surface my favorites for your reading pleasure.
Last week, I talked about how Netflix might have some rough times ahead as Disney barrels towards it.
There is plenty to be said about the potential of smart glasses. I write about them at length for TechCrunch and I’ve talked to a lot of founders doing cool stuff. That being said, I don’t have any idea what Snap is doing with the introduction of a third-generation of its Spectacles video sunglasses.
The first-gen were a marketing smash hit, their sales proved to be a major failure for the company which bet big and seemingly walked away with a landfill’s worth of the glasses.
Snap’s latest version of Spectacles were announced in Vogue this week, they are much more expensive at $380 and their main feature is that they have two cameras which capture images in light depth which can lead to these cute little 3D boomerangs. One one hand, it’s nice to see the company showing perseverance with a tough market, on the other it’s kind of funny to see them push the same rock up the hill again.
Snap is having an awesome 2019 after a laughably bad 2018, the stock has recovered from record lows and is trading in its IPO price wheelhouse. It seems like they’re ripe for something new and exciting, not beautiful yet iterative.
The $150 Spectacles 2 are still for sale, though they seem quite a bit dated-looking at this point. Spectacles 3 seem to …Read More