Normally, one would expect only supervillains such as Lex Luthor to be upset when Superman saves the day, but now, people in the real world are annoyed the Man of Steel saves the lives of certain demographics. This is the world we currently live in, one where a beloved fictional character can’t do his job without being criticized. Be afraid, be very afraid.
The latest Superman comic, Action Comics #987, aka. “The Oz Effect,” was recently released and unveiled several salient plot points, most important of which is (spoilers) that Superman’s biological father, Jor-El, is alive and well. And is also Mr. Oz, a mysterious figure who has recently appeared in numerous Superman comics and readers theorized was Ozymandias, the main antagonist of Watchmen. Of course, not every reader focused on this lore-shattering event. Instead, some fixated on Superman doing something they never expected him to: shielding people with his body so they aren’t murdered in cold blood. I’m totally being serious.
The Internet’s second-most popular alt-right online magazine, Breitbart, is complaining Superman tried to save the lives of innocent people. Why? Because they were illegal Mexican immigrants. The assailant who shot at the Mexicans claimed he had a “legitimate” excuse, “they took his job.” This shooter might have been a white supremacist, but he also wore an American flag bandanna to present himself as a true American patriot and to symbolically justify in his actions. The writers at Breitbart misunderstood the point/message of Superman’s action, and even worse, they were offended by it.
“DC Comics long ago declared that Superman is no longer American,” reads the Breitbart article. “Where once the hero touted the ideals of ‘truth, justice, and the American way,’ like a good leftist, Superman is now a ‘citizen of the world.'”
Ok, where to even begin with how wrong Breitbart is? First, letting someone murder innocent people, regardless of citizenship or job status, is the exact opposite of “truth, justice, and the American way.” Superman’s adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, taught him that all life is precious, which is why he almost never kills villains and doesn’t let innocent civilians be killed, and on the rare occasion when he does either, he suffers horrific nightmares that border on PTSD. He literally can’t forgive himself if he kills a villain or lets an innocent be killed, and this situation is no different.
Furthermore, Superman never was an American. He’s an illegal alien in the most literal sense of the term: he was born on the planet Krypton, sent to Earth, and raised in Smallville, Kansas. Yes, he looks human, and a Caucasian one at that, but he isn’t. His parents lied to everyone that he’s their biological son, and even though he has (or had) American citizenship, it was granted under false pretenses and thus null and void. Now, this isn’t a knock against Superman or his creators, just a statement of the blindingly obvious.
Finally, Superman is as much of a super hero as he is a symbol or icon. When I read Breitbart’s article, I was reminded of the Justice League Unlimited episode “Clash.” In the episode, newspaper reporters mistake Captain Marvel’s admiration of Lex Luthor (seemingly) turning over a new leaf and running for President as an endorsement of his campaign. Superman chews Captain Marvel out with some extremely poignant words, “When you joined this team, you became something more than just a hero. You became a symbol, a symbol that represents all of us. We don’t play favorites, we don’t sell deodorant on television, and we don’t get involved in politics.” Sure, those are some general rules for Justice League members, but they’re also a summary of Superman’s personal ideology: he doesn’t play favorites and he doesn’t get involved in politics. Superman doesn’t care why a person commits a crime or who they target. If someone commits a crime, Superman will stop him, her, or it — and when people are victims of a crime, he will protect them, no ifs, ands, or buts. That’s the way he always has been, and that’s the way he always will be.
Gaming models are created by Auctoria using generative AI
Aleksander Caban, co-founder of Polish VR game developer Carbon Studio, noticed a major problem in modern game design several years ago. He manually created rocks, hills, paths, and other video game environment elements, which was time-consuming and laborious.
Caban created tech to automate the process.
In collaboration with Michal Bugała, Joanna Zając, Karolina Koszuta, and Błażej Szaflik, he founded Auctoria, an AI-powered platform for creating 3D game assets. Auctoria, from Gliwice, Poland, is in Startup Battlefield 200 at Disrupt 2023.
Auctoria was founded on a passion for limitless creativity, according to Zając in an email interview. It was designed to help game developers, but anyone can use it. Few advanced tools exist for professionals; most are for hobbyists and amateurs. We want to change that.”
Using generative AI, Auctoria creates various video game models. One feature generates basic 3D game levels with pathways, while another converts uploaded images and textures of walls, floors, and columns into 3D versions.
Like DALL-E 2 and Midjourney, Auctoria can generate assets from text prompts. Or they can submit a sketch, which the platform will try to turn into a digital model.
All AI algorithms and training data for Auctoria were developed in-house, according to Zając.
She said “Auctoria is based 100% on our content, so we’re not dependent on any other provider.” It’s independent—Auctoria doesn’t use open source or external engines.
In the emerging market for AI game asset generation tools, Auctoria isn’t alone. The 3DFY, Scenario, Kaedim, Mirage, and Hypothetic startups create 3D models. Even Nvidia and Autodesk are entering the space with apps like Get3D, which converts images to 3D models, and ClipForge, which generates models from text descriptions.
Meta also tried tech to create 3D assets from prompts. In December, OpenAI released Point-E, an AI that synthesizes 3D models for 3D printing, game design, and animation.
Given the size of the opportunity, the race to market new solutions isn’t surprising. According to Proficient Market Insights, 3D models could be worth $3.57 billion by 2028.
According to Zając, Auctoria’s two-year R&D cycle has led to a more robust and comprehensive toolset than rivals.
“Currently, AI-based software is lacking for creating complete 3D world models,” Zając stated. “3D editors and plugins offer only a fraction of Auctoria’s capabilities. Our team started developing the tool two years ago, giving us a ready-to-use product.”
Auctoria, like all generative AI startups, must deal with AI-generated media legal issues. Not yet clear how AI-generated works can be copyrighted in the U.S.
However, the Auctoria team of seven employees and five co-founders is delaying answering those questions. Instead, they’re piloting the tooling with game development studios like Caban’s Carbon Studio.
Before releasing Auctoria in the coming months, the company hopes to raise $5 million to “speed up the process” of creating back-end cloud services to scale the platform.
Zając stated that the funding would reduce the computing time required for creating worlds or 3D models with Auctoria. Achieving a software-as-a-service model requires both infrastructure and user experience enhancements, such as a simple UI, excellent customer service, and effective marketing. We’ll keep our core team small, but we’ll hire more by year’s end.”
Syphon Filter on PlayStation Plus Premium: Dark Mirror and Ape Academy 2 Have Awards
Even though trophy support for older games on PS Plus Premium isn’t always great, you can always count on Sony’s first-party games to have it.If you like collecting these digital trinkets, you’re in luck, because today’s big PlayStation Plus update includes two classic games that can now be used to earn Trophies.
Each trophy list for Ape Academy 2 and Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror includes the platinum cherry on top. You can look at their respective listings here and here if you’re interested.
The list for Dark Mirror appears to be quite simple—you can basically earn them all by finishing the game. The trophies in Ape Academy 2 appear to be a little more complicated, requiring you to complete particular objectives in card battles and advance to specified rankings. Nonetheless, it doesn’t seem too difficult, so we’re looking at a couple of quite simple platinums.
Ridge Racer: Type 4 is this month’s other premium classic game; sadly, it does not offer trophies. But it makes up for it by being a complete banger.
However, will you be obtaining some of these trophies with a nostalgic flavor?
Beautiful New Book Teaches About the Art of Horizon Forbidden West
This year, Sony produced some truly outstanding work, releasing four high-profile games on the PS5 and PS4 (not to mention the numerous PC ports). The earliest of these, Horizon Forbidden West, arrived in February of 2022 and got the year off to a strong start. One of Aloy’s sophomore journey’s greatest strengths, among the many other things we like about it, is its excellent art direction. The Art of Horizon Forbidden West allows you to now delve deeply into the game’s visuals.
This coffee table book, which was published by Dark Horse Books, contains 200 pages of concept art and developer commentary. It provides an inside look at the process used to develop engaging characters and settings, and Forbidden West is certainly not lacking in either.
There will be two editions of the book: standard and deluxe. Both are hardback books, with the deluxe edition having pages with metallic edges and a unique slipcase. These are now up for pre-order and will go on sale on April 25, 2023.
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