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29 May 07:20

A lawyer faces sanctions after he used ChatGPT to write a brief riddled with fake citations

by Igor Bonifacic

With the hype around AI reaching a fever pitch in recent months, many people fear programs like ChatGPT will one day put them out of a job. For one New York lawyer, that nightmare could become a reality sooner than expected, but not for the reasons you might think. As reported by The New York Times, attorney Steven Schwartz of the law firm Levidow, Levidow and Oberman recently turned to OpenAI’s chatbot for assistance with writing a legal brief, with predictably disastrous results.

Schwartz’s firm has been suing the Colombian airline Avianca on behalf of Roberto Mata, who claims he was injured on a flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. When the airline recently asked a federal judge to dismiss the case, Mata’s lawyers filed a 10-page brief arguing why the suit should proceed. The document cited more than half a dozen court decisions, including “Varghese v. China Southern Airlines,” “Martinez v. Delta Airlines” and “Miller v. United Airlines.” Unfortunately for everyone involved, no one who read the brief could find any of the court decisions cited by Mata’s lawyers. Why? Because ChatGPT fabricated all of them. Oops.

In an affidavit filed on Thursday, Schwartz said he had used the chatbot to “supplement” his research for the case. Schwartz wrote he was "unaware of the possibility that [ChatGPT’s] content could be false.” He even shared screenshots showing that he had asked ChatGPT if the cases it cited were real. The program responded they were, claiming the decisions could be found in “reputable legal databases,” including Westlaw and LexisNexis. 

Schwartz said he “greatly regrets” using ChatGPT “and will never do so in the future without absolute verification of its authenticity.” Whether he has another chance to write a legal brief is up in the air. The judge overseeing the case has ordered a June 8th hearing to discuss potential sanctions for the “unprecedented circumstance” created by Schwartz’s actions.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
22 May 12:40

ChatGPT's Evil Twin, BratGPT, is Designed for World Domination

by (Francisco Pires)
Not all pieces of technology bring with them existential dread or efficiency improvements. Sometimes, tech is meant to be fun; and BratGPT certainly does turn up the grilling heat up to 11.
02 May 13:37

'Godfather of AI' leaves Google amid ethical concerns

by Jon Fingas

One of the pioneers of artificial intelligence has made a high-profile exit. Geoffrey Hinton, nicknamed the "godfather of AI," tellsThe New York Times he resigned as Google VP and engineering fellow in April to freely warn of the risks associated with the technology. The researcher is concerned that Google is giving up its previous restraint on public AI releases in a bid to compete with ChatGPT, Bing Chat and similar models, opening the door to multiple ethical problems.

In the near term, Hinton is worried that generative AI could lead to a wave of misinformation. You might "not be able to know what is true anymore," he says. He's also concerned it might not just eliminate "drudge work," but outright replace some jobs. Going forward, the scientist is concerned about both the possibility of fully autonomous weapons and the tendency of AI models to learn odd behavior from training data. While some of these issues are theoretical, Hinton fears an escalation that won't be checked without regulations or the development of effective controls.

Hinton says his stance began changing last year, when Google, OpenAI and others began creating AI systems that he believes are sometimes superior to human intelligence. AI has developed rapidly in just the past five years — it's "scary" what could happen in the next five, the researcher suggests.

In a statement to Engadget, Google's chief scientist Jeff Dean says his firm is still dedicated to a "responsible approach" and on guard for "emerging risks." The search giant recently released a rough version of its Bard chatbot in March following months of rumors the company is worried about the competitive threat of generative AI. Before then, it refused to publicly release AI models like its art-oriented Imagen over the potential for toxic content and copyright violations.

Hinton has devoted his career to studying the neural networks that are often key to AI, but is best known for developing an object recognition system in 2012. His breakthrough neural net could use training images to help recognize common objects. Google bought Hinton's DNNresearch startup in 2013, and the underlying concept of his invention helped foster a surge of development that led to today's generative tech.

Hinton isn't alone. A number of influential academics and tech luminaries, including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, recently signed an open letter calling for a six-month pause on AI development to address ethical and safety problems. As one of the most prominent figures in the industry, though, Hinton's word carries significant weight.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
02 May 13:34

Hollywood writers are officially on strike

by Steve Dent

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has called for a strike starting today largely over streaming productions, saying that studios are effectively creating a "gig economy" within the union. On the other side of the table, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) said the WGA was "unwilling" to compromise on key issues like mandatory staffing. 

"The Board of Directors of the @WGAwest and the Council of the @WGAeast, acting upon the authority granted to them by their memberships, have voted unanimously to call a strike, effective 12:01 AM, Tuesday, May 2," the WGA wrote in a tweet. "The decision was made following six weeks of negotiating with @Netflix, @Apple, @ Disney, @wbd, @NBCUniversal, @Paramountplus and @Sony under the umbrella of the AMPTP." 

The effects of the breakdown in negotiations will be felt immediately, with talk shows like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel Live!set to shut down starting today. The strike will also freeze film and TV production, affecting hubs like Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta. The labor situation has already delayed the start of some programming, FilmLA president Paul Audley told Variety. The last writers' strike started in November 2007 and lasted 100 days.

Both sides have said they're willing to continue negotiations, but appear to be far apart on some issues. The "primary sticking points" according to the AMPTP, are the guild's demand for a TV staffing minimum ranging from six to 12 writers per show, along with a guaranteed minimum number of weeks of employment per season (10 to 52 weeks). The studios rejected both proposals and didn't make counter-offers. 

Other issues (laid out in a WGA document) include a demand for streaming residuals that take into account the success of shows. The WGA also wanted increases in minimums of up to 6 percent, and the AMPTP offered 4 percent at most. The guild also wants regulation of AI, proposing that it "can't write or rewrite literary material" or be used as source material. The AMPTP only agreed to study the AI issue, according to the WGA.

There were some areas of agreement, like guaranteed minimums for writers who earn less than a certain amount, and script fees for staff writers. However, both sides are dug in for what could be a long dispute. "The companies have broken this business," guild leadership said last night, calling the problem an "existential crisis writers are facing." 

Meanwhile, the AMPTP said it was "prepared to improve [compensation and residuals], but was unwilling to do so because of the magnitude of other proposals still on the table that the guild continues to insist upon."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
02 May 13:00

Keanu Reeves' Band Gets Back Together, Announces First Album In 23 Years

After a hiatus of over two decades, Keanu Reeves' former grunge band Dogstar has reunited and announced that they will be releasing new music this summer. The band first broke the news on Instagram, where they have been posting behind-the-scenes updates on their studio time since creating an account last summer.

Dogstar was formed in the early 1990s and featured Reeves on bass. Despite the actor's success in Hollywood, he continued to pursue his passion for music and toured with the band throughout the Nineties and early 2000s. The band's upcoming release will be their first new music since their 2000 album, Happy Ending.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Dogstar (@dogstarband)

In their latest Instagram post, the band expressed their gratitude for the overwhelming response they've received since announcing their return. They also confirmed that they will be rolling out new music this summer and plan to follow up with live performances.

Continue Reading at GameSpot
02 May 12:58

Ukraine's Army Has Found a Novel Use for the Steam Deck

by Matt Purslow

The Ukrainian army is using the Steam Deck as part of its military operations, but not as a method for soldiers to unwind with video games during downtime. Instead, the handheld PC is being used to remote control machine gun turrets deployed on the frontline.

As reported by PC Gamer, a video from TRO Media has demonstrated Ukrainian soldiers working with the “Shablya” turret (Ukrainian for “saber”), which is operated remotely by a Steam Deck.

As we’ve learned from a whole bunch of Tom Clancy and Call of Duty games, remote controlled turrets are very useful in warfare since they allow fire to be laid down without directly exposing a gun operator to enemy shots. The video offers a quick glimpse of how the Steam Deck interfaces with the turret, with a video feed from the weapon being displayed on-screen to enable target identification.

PC Gamer spoke to Aric Toler, a Bellingcat researcher who helped uncover a leak of classified military documents on Discord last month, and he explained why the Steam Deck was ideal for military use.

"Steam Deck is pretty perfect when you think about it," said Toler. "Totally native OS client, great controller you can use, touch screen, etc.

"It makes perfect sense for Steam Deck to be used, assuming the software is Linux-compatible (unless they went through the godawful process of dual-booting Windows on a Steam Deck)."

And at $399 for the base model, it is also potentially much, much cheaper than “insanely expensive” bespoke control modules.

For more on the Steam Deck, check out our review. We've no thoughts on how well it works as a remote control for ordnance, though.

Matt Purslow is IGN's UK News and Features Editor.

28 Apr 08:30

Mark Hamill Gives Cal Kestis Advice in Charming New Jedi Survivor Ad

by Luis Joshua Gutierrez

The stakes have never been higher for Cameron Monaghan's Cal Kestis in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, as shown in a new trailer from Respawn, with him working closely with Jedi Master Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) to learn a few new tricks.

Once the trailer starts, you can see shots of Monaghan training in a motion capture suit, with Hamill telling him how to stay in character. As the video goes on, we're given glimpses of how Hamill is training him in unconventional Jedi ways. By the end of the trailer, Monaghan is giving Hamill advice on how to play the upcoming game.

In addition to the new trailer, yesterday, April 26, EA revealed the accessibility options for Jedi Survivor. Some of these include a variety of difficulty options, the ability to remap your controls, a new feature that slows down the movement of the game, and more.

As of late, EA has been highlighting Cameron Monaghan more than usual. Late last year, in December, we were able to interview Monaghan to talk more about Jedi Survivor. And during The Game Awards, Monaghan made an appearance to show off a trailer.

There's also been speculation that Cal may appear in a live-action Star Wars project. Because what happened in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series aligns with what Cal is dealing with in both games. Not to mention in an interview with ScreenRant, Monaghan stated that "there's interest" in having Cal appear in a live-action project. However, whether Monaghan appears in a live-action project is ultimately up to Disney.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a sequel to the 2019 Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. In both games, you play as a young Jedi named Cal Kestis, who's fighting for survival during the age of the Empire.

Be sure to check out our Star Wars Jedi: Survivor review, where Dan Stapleton wrote: "It's a sequel that does virtually everything better than the original – which was already an exceptional Star Wars game. If Respawn makes one more like this it'll complete the best Star Wars trilogy in 30 years, hands down."

Luis Joshua Gutierrez is a freelance writer who loves games. You can reach him at @ImLuisGutierrez on Twitter.

26 Apr 06:58

Warner Bros. Pictures at CinemaCon 2023: Everything Announced

by Adam Bankhurst

Warner Bros. Pictures took the stage at CinemaCon 2023 and pulled back the curtain on many of its upcoming films, including The Flash, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Wonka, Barbie, Dune Part Two, and many more.

IGN was in attendance at Warner Bros. Pictures' CinemaCon showcase and this article will share all you need to know about the biggest movies headed to a theater near you in the future.

The Flash CinemaCon 2023 Trailer Shows the Consequences of Trying to Change the Past

Warner Bros. Pictures has released a brand new trailer for The Flash at CinemaCon 2023 and, alongside featuring Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck's Batmen and Sasha Calle's Supergirl, it very much shows the consequences of trying to change the past.

The trailer begins with Keaton talking about losing his parents and how the pain of that even made him who he is. He spent his whole life trying to "right the wrongs of his past, as if fighting crime would bring my parents back." He then looks at Miller's Barry Allen and says, "you actually did it."

What follows is a look at the cost of Allen "succeeding." He admits he thinks he 'broke the universe," and this is seen by the return of General Zod. Alongside emotional scenes between various characters, we get Affleck's Bruce Wayne saying, "These scars we have, they make us who we are. We weren't meant to go back and fix them. Don't let your tragedy define you."

In perhaps the best moment for fans of Keaton's Batman, we see him say his famous line from 1989's Batman, "You want to get nuts?! Let's get nuts."

The Flash will race into theaters on June 16, 2023, and you can check out the full trailer below.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Gets Extended Look at CinemaCon 2023

Alongside a promise that it will "blaze a trail forward" into the new DCU, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom got an extended look at CinemaCon 2023.

The footage begins by showing Jason Momoa's Aquaman a.k.a. Arthur Curry with a new baby boy. It then cuts to Randall Park's Dr. Stephen Shin on an arctic expedition before another cut shows off the Black Trident - a weapon whose power is said to come from a great evil.

Speaking of evil, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's Black Manta is seen and says, "I'm going to kill Aquaman and destroy everything he holds dear."

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will be released in theaters on December 20, 2023.

Blue Beetle CinemaCon 2023 Footage Shows Off the Villainous Carapax

The Blue Beetle footage shown at CinemaCon 2023 was very similar to the trailer that was recently released. However, it did give us an even better look at the villainous Carapax.

The director and stars of Blue Beetle were also on hand to share a bit about the film that will be released in theaters on August 18, 2023. As we saw in the trailer, family will be key in Xolo Maridueña's journey to becoming the Blue Beetle. The family members themselves will also go on heroic arcs and they are "sometimes very funny and sometimes very surprising," according to director Angel Manuel Soto.

Dune Part Two Is an 'Action-Packed Epic War Movie,' First Footage Revealed at CinemaCon 2023

Dune Part Two director Denis Villeneuve stopped by CinemaCon 2023 to share the first footage the upcoming film he called an "action-packed epic war movie."

The footage shows Timothée Chalamet's Paul Atreides and Zendaya's Chani sitting together on dunes before cutting to Florence Pugh's Princess Irulan. Austin Butler's Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, who is described as an Olympic sword master who is a psychotic crossed with Mick Jagger, also gets a first look and he is quite angry. The footage ends with Paul in a sandstorm and then standing before the masses.

Dune Part Two will be released in theaters on November 3, 2023, and will pick up right where the first film ended as Paul and his mother joining the Fremen tribe and attempt to earn their trust.

Zendaya also said that there is much more Chani in the sequel as, "she's not just in dreams this time."

Oh, and of course there is an image of Paul riding a sandworm, which Villeneuve said was all practical.

Hugh Grant Plays an Oompa Loompa in the Willy Wonka Prequel

Warner Bros. Pictures revealed at CinemaCon 2023 that Hugh Grant would be playing an Oompa Loompa in the Timothée Chalamet-led prequel film Wonka. Those in attendance got a glimpse of Grant's orange-hued face on a CGI Oompa Loompa in some footage for Wonka, and Grant's character says he is a "perfectly respectable size."

The footage also shows Wonka attempting to make chocolate but having to go up against the aptly named chocolate cartel. It's also confirmed that the movie will be a musical or sorts but the trailer had no songs in it. This Willy Wonka is said to be full of hope and much different than who he becomes when Gene Wilder played him.

Wonka will be released in theaters on Decemeber 15, 2023.

Barbie's Ryan Gosling Says He Didn't Understand Ken Until He Bleached His Hair and Shaved His Legs

The cast and director of Barbie were a part of Warner Bros. Pictures' showcase at CinemaCon and helped reveal some new footage for the upcoming film. However, one of the highlights of the panel was Ryan Gosling saying he didn't really understand Ken until "one day I was bleaching my hair and shaving my legs and it all came on like a fever."

As for the footage, it began in Barbie's world and things start going wrong for our star. She then finds herself in the real world and has to deal with all that entails for someone who grew up in a toy world.

Barbie will be released in theaters on July 21, 2023.

Beetlejuice 2 Is Officially in Development at Warner Bros.

After years and years of rumors and reports, Warner Bros. has officially confirmed that Beetlejuice 2 is in development. We didn't learn much about anything about the film, but a logo that was briefly shown during a sizzle reel at Warner Bros.' CinemaCon 2023 panel should have fans who have waited 35 years for this excited nonetheless.

Meg 2: The Trench Trailer Reveals Prehistoric Creatures Fighting for Survival

Meg 2: The Trench got a new trailer at CinemaCon and featured prehistoric creatures fighting on a beach. A T-Rex then chases them into the ocean where a Meg catches swiftly catches the T-Rex and proves who the top predator is. We then cut to modern day where Jason Statham's Jonas and his team are on another mission to stop a Meg from coming to the surface that is the "biggest Meg anyone's ever seen."

The Nun II Gets a Terrifying Teaser Trailer Ahead of Its September 2023 Premiere

The Conjuring universe is about to get a bit bigger and even more terrifying as The Nun II will be released in theaters on September 8, 2023. The new footage shown began with church bells ringing and thunder and lightning striking as the demon nun appears once more.

We then cut to young girls in a convent school that looks like early 20th century Europe. They sneak into a closed chapel they know is off limits and discover some dark passageways that are in ruins. They then start playing a game called Defy the Devil, which has players staring at the image of a goat in a stain-glassed window to get a demon to appear.

The youngest girl is told by the eldest to not look away, and shortly thereafter the nun appears behind her with glowing eyes. She tries to run, but the other girls lock her in and laugh.

The footage segues into the trailer with appears to be set in the 50s or very early 60s.

Oprah Stopped by CinemaCon 2023 to Reveal the First Footage of The Color Purple

Oprah Winfrey came by CinemaCon 2023 to talk about The Color Purple, the upcoming movie musical that is an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name that is based on the Alice Walker novel from 1982.

Winfrey starred in the 1985 film adaptation of The Color Purple, which was directed by Steven Spielberg, and she is serving as a producer on the film. Oprah said that the film is a "celebration of sisterhood" and that it's "not your mama's color purple." It is also said to "bring magical realism" to the musical.

The Color Purple will be released in theaters on December 25, 2023.

Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.

13 Apr 08:07

The Mandalorian Season 3, Episode 7 Easter Eggs - 9 Things You Missed In 'Chapter 23: The Spies'

This week on The Mandalorian, we got our biggest update ever on what the Empire's had cooking since they lost the war to the Rebel Alliance, the Mandalorians returned to Mandalore, and Moff Gideon finally made his move. The excellent "Chapter 23: The Spies," directed by series staple Rick Famuyiwa, is quite dense with lore--by and large, these Easter eggs are substantial updates on characters and situations we've wondered about for years.

Even better, some of these Easter eggs are introducing direct plot throughlines from Return of the Jedi to The Force Awakens the likes of which we've never had before. This is a big episode.

Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Chapter 23 of The Mandalorian, titled "The Spies."

Most of this week's episode concerns the return of the Manadalorians to their homeworld in force, but before that we had our first scene with Giancarlo Esposito's Moff Gideon this season--he's receiving an update from the spy Elia Kane within the New Republic about the threat that a united Mandalorian force might pose to the Empire's short-term plans.

As soon as that phone call ends, Gideon steps into a Zoom meeting with other Imperial leaders to talk about how to handle that Mandalorian threat--and also to talk about Thrawn, the blue Imperial Grand Admiral who's been missing since the series finale of Rebels.

From there, we move to the titular Mandalorian Din Djarin and the massive new army of fighters from Bo-Katan's old crew and Din's Mando cult. And this combined force immediately makes its big move toward Mandalore. There they meet even more Mandalorians--survivors of the Purge of Mandalore who have just been living down there the whole time--and then they all walk right into Moff Gideon's trap.

This episode is easily the best of the entire series, and it's got plenty of Easter eggs--but these are largely meaty and substantial references to the greater franchise that hold serious big-picture story implications. Let's dive in.

1. Imperial Shadow Council

In the second scene of the episode, Moff Gideon meets with a group he refers to as the "Shadow Council." This is a secretive Imperial leadership group that was established by Imperial Admiral Gallius Rax immediately after the Emperor's death in the Aftermath trilogy of novels. The group was formed to serve as an oligarchy that secretly ran the Empire behind a figurehead, but it looks like they currently secretly run the Empire while pretending they have no manner of combined leadership at all.

Only one member of the original Shadow Council is still around in the new one. We'll talk about him in a moment.

2. Grand Admiral Thrawn

Thrawn on Rebels

Originally created by author Timothy Zahn for the Expanded Universe novel Heir to the Empire in 1991, Thrawn was conceived as an unrivaled tactical genius who nearly managed to keep the Empire together after the Emperor's death. Thrawn was brought into Disney's Star Wars continuity as a major antagonist on Rebels, and he's been missing since the Rebels series finale--but apparently he now runs the remnants of the Empire through his representative on the Shadow Council, Captain Pellaeon. While we didn't actually see him in this episode, this is the first time he's been mentioned in live-action Star Wars. And we already know he'll be here soon enough.

3. Captain Pellaeon

Pellaeon himself is also an interesting pull, because he also originated in Heir to the Empire as the captain of Thrawn's flagship, the star destroyer Chimaera. But aside from one very brief cameo in the Rebels finale and a new backstory in one of the Thrawn novels, he hasn't really been much of a part of the Disney timeline. Until now, anyway. Pellaeon is played by TV veteran Xander Berkeley, who isn't really the sort of actor you hire for a cameo--it would be very unsurprising if we saw him again, either in the Mandalorian season finale next week or on the Ahsoka series later this year.

4. Commandant Hux

You remember General Armitage Hux, that First Order guy in the sequel trilogy who screamed that speech about order before blowing up the New Republic capital planet? Well, this is his dad, the previously mentioned only surviving member of the original Shadow Council from the Aftermath novels. Commandant Brendol Hux goes on to help found the First Order, and then eventually he's killed by Captain Phasma on behalf of his son--he wasn't a great dad.

General Hux was played by Domhnall Gleeson in the sequel trilogy, and here his father, Commandant Hux, is played by Gleeson's brother Brian.

5. Project Necromancer

Cloning tanks on Exegol, in The Rise of Skywalker

We learn that Commandant Hux is in charge of something called Project Necromancer, which involves cloning and is intended to provide a new leader for the remnants of the Empire. This has to be the project to resurrect Emperor Palpatine's spirit in a clone body that is strong enough to support it. If it isn't that, then this would have to be something new we haven't heard about before.

6. Praetorian Guard

During this scene, Gideon manages to convince Pellaeon and Hux to provide him with reinforcements for his losses against the Mandalorians, as well as the use of three members of the Praetorian Guard. And we didn't have to wait too long to see these badass Praetorians in action, because they duke it out with Paz Viszla at the end of the episode. If these guys look familiar, it's because we previously saw the Praetorian Guard protecting Supreme Leader Snoke in The Last Jedi--until Kylo Ren and Rey killed them and Snoke, anyway.

7. Fake Chess

Star Wars has a lot of different versions of chess, like the one with holographic monsters they played on the Millennium Falcon in A New Hope. And this one that we see Paz Viszla and Axe Woves playing in this episode is a new chess-like game that was invented for The Mandalorian. Though in Star Wars these are not actually variations on chess--in this universe, all of these chess-like games and chess itself are derived from a board game called Shah-tezh. This is not an important fact, but it is a fun one.

8. Ankylosaurus

We were all waiting for our merry band of Mandos to fight the mythosaur that we saw at the beginning of the season, but instead they had to face a different gigantic lizard monster with a massive spiked tail. While we never got a full-body shot of this guy, everything we did see looked like this was a kaiju-sized ankylosaurus--a real dinosaur that existed on Earth during the late Cretecaous Period. On Earth, though, these things were only a couple dozen feet long, rather than the size of a large building.

9. Beskar stormtroopers look more like First Order stormtroopers

Moff Gideon didn't just bomb Mandalore to smithereens and then move on with his life--no, he set up a base there to mine beskar ore, and he's been outfitting stormtroopers with beskar armor and jetpacks. But this new stormtrooper armor isn't just better at protecting the wearer. It also looks different. In fact, the helmet looks a lot like they crossed Mandalorian stylings with the helmets of the First Order stormtroopers from the sequel trilogy.

And, as Poe Dameron once said: They fly now.

12 Apr 09:29

How Classified Pentagon Documents Spread Through a Minecraft Discord Server

by Logan Plant

The United States military is facing a massive information crisis after top secret U.S. documents regarding the war in Ukraine were leaked through multiple Discord servers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the documents reportedly contain details about the war in Ukraine, U.S. allies, American penetration of Russian military plans, and more. Dozens of documents have surfaced so far with many bearing "Top Secret" or "Secret" labels, according to the report.

What's even more surprising is the path the information took across the internet. The documents apparently first appeared in a small Discord server with mostly American users. The information eventually passed through a Minecraft Discord server, with screenshots obtained by BBC dating the posts to early March. The classified information continued to spread, making its way through 4chan, Twitter, and Russian social network Telegram, before U.S. officials launched an investigation last week.

According to investigative news site Bellingcat, the leak may have started on a Discord server called WowMao, which is run by the YouTuber of the same name. A member of the server posted over 30 documents across March 1 and March 2, predating their appearance in the Minecraft server by a couple of days. It wasn't until April 7 that the documents were removed from the Discord server.

However, Bellingcat's report notes that the leak also may have originated as early as January in a now-deleted Discord server known as Thug Shaker Central. However, the report noted that it's impossible to verify the authenticity of these claims given that the server no longer exists.

The Minecraft server in question is called Minecraft Earth Map. On March 4, two users were apparently arguing over Minecraft maps and the war in Ukraine, prompting one user to write, "here, have some leaked documents" while posting 10 documents about Ukraine. It seems the documents sat in this server unnoticed by government officials for over a month.

WSJ's report says the U.S. is assessing the damage of the leak, calling it "one of the most significant leaks of highly classified U.S. documents in recent history". Defense officials have said some of the documents appear authentic, but others may have been altered. The original source of the leak is currently unknown.

Now, Discord is working with law enforcement to investigate the leaks. In a statement to Kotaku, a Discord spokesperson said in part, "It is Discord’s highest priority to ensure a safe experience for our users. When we are made aware of content that violates our policies, our Safety team investigates and takes the appropriate action, including banning users, shutting down servers, and engaging with law enforcement.”

Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over six years of experience in the gaming industry with bylines at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.

09 Apr 06:49

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary Funko Pops Are Up for Preorder

by Chris Reed

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the sci-fi classic Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi -- the third film in the original trilogy hit theaters in 1983. To commemorate the anniversary, Funko is releasing a new line of Star Wars figures, and they’re available for preorder now. There are quite a few coming out, so let’s take a look.

Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary Funko Pops

The core set, available at numerous retailers, is comprised of many of the characters you’d expect (with the strange omission of Han Solo). You can get Luke, unmasked Darth Vader, C-3P0, Wicket, and two versions of Leia — including one in the rad Boushh disguise.

But the showpiece entries are Jabba and Salacious Crumb, plus one featuring the Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader lightsaber battle scene. Good stuff, both of them.

Retailer-Exclusive ROTJ 40 Funkos

It wouldn’t be a Funko release without a bunch of retailer-exclusive Pops. At various outlets you can also pick up characters like Emperor Palpatine, Max Rebo, and a glow-in-the-dark Luke. There’s also a pair of Target exclusive figures that go together featuring Luke and Chewie on Jabba’s skiff.

Chris Reed is a deals expert and commerce editor for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @_chrislreed or on Mastodon @chrislreed.

09 Apr 06:33

Three Samsung employees reportedly leaked sensitive data to ChatGPT

by Kris Holt

On the surface, ChatGPT might seem like a tool that can come in useful for an array of work tasks. But before you ask the chatbot to summarize important memos or check your work for errors, it's worth remembering that anything you share with ChatGPT could be used to train the system and perhaps even pop up in its responses to other users. That's something several Samsung employees probably should have been aware of before they reportedly shared confidential information with the chatbot.

Soon after Samsung's semiconductor division started allowing engineers to use ChatGPT, workers leaked secret info to it on at least three occasions, according to The Economist Korea (as spotted by Mashable). One employee reportedly asked the chatbot to check sensitive database source code for errors, another solicited code optimization and a third fed a recorded meeting into ChatGPT and asked it to generate minutes.

Reports suggest that, after learning about the security slip-ups, Samsung attempted to limit the extent of future faux pas by restricting the length of employees' ChatGPT prompts to a kilobyte, or 1024 characters of text. The company is also said to be investigating the three employees in question and building its own chatbot to prevent similar mishaps. Engadget has contacted Samsung for comment.

ChatGPT's data policy states that, unless users explicitly opt out, it uses their prompts to train its models. The chatbot's owner OpenAI urges users not to share secret information with ChatGPT in conversations as it's “not able to delete specific prompts from your history.” The only way to get rid of personally identifying information on ChatGPT is to delete your account — a process that can take up to four weeks.

The Samsung saga is another example of why it's worth exercising caution when using chatbots, as you perhaps should with all your online activity. You never truly know where your data will end up.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
07 Apr 13:10

Catan creator Klaus Teuber has passed away at 70

by Lawrence Bonk

Klaus Teuber, who created the board game sensation Settlers of Catan, has passed away at the age of 70. According to the official Catan website, Teuber died on April 1st after a “brief and severe illness.” He is survived by his wife Claudia and their two sons, Guido and Benny, all of which are involved with publisher Catan Studios.

It is hard to do justice to how important Catan was (and is) to the board game space. Teuber invented the multiplayer resource-trading game in 1995 and is one of the first European board games to achieve massive success throughout the rest of the world. As of 2020, over 32 million copies of Catan in 40 different languages have been sold globally.

It’s not just board games. The popularity of Catan has allowed for multiple digital versions available for smartphones, video game consoles and PCs. The game has also left quite a pop culture footprint, inspiring countless references in media properties like The Big Bang Theory, Parks and Recreation, Supergirl and South Park. It even inspired a short film in 2014, The Lord of Catan, starring Amy Acker. There have also been rumors of a forthcoming Sony-produced feature film floating around since 2015.

Teuber may be best known for creating Catan, but the designer also had his hand in many popular board games like Barbarossa, Wacky Wacky Wacky and more. All told, he won the Game of the Year award a whopping four times. Not bad for a former dental technician who didn’t even begin developing games seriously until the 1990s, when he was in his 40s.

“I developed games to escape,” he told The New Yorker in 2014. “This was my own world I created.”

Teuber also founded publisher Catan Studios, which posted a memorial tweet today urging the title’s many fans to honor his impact on the world of gaming by “being kind to one another” and pursuing their dreams to the fullest.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
07 Apr 12:29

Star Wars Celebration 2023: Everything Announced So Far

by Adam Bankhurst

From three new live-action Star Wars movies from James Mangold, Dave Filoni, and Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy to Daisy Ridley's return as Rey in a film set after The Rise of Skywalker to Ahsoka's official trailer, Lucasfilm's Studio Showcase at Star Wars Celebration 2023 was filled with a ton of exciting reveals from that galaxy far, far away.

The weekend isn't over yet though, so IGN has gathered every news announcement in one place so you can keep track of it all, and we'll continue to update this page with every fresh reveal from throughout the weekend.

Let us know your favorite announcement and which project you are most looking forward to in the comments below!

Lucasfilm Announces Three Live-Action Star Wars Movies From Directors Dave Filoni, James Mangold, and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

Star Wars fans have been waiting since 2019's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker for the franchise to return to the big screen, and Star Wars Celebration has finally confirmed that return will happen with three films directed by James Mangold, Dave Filoni, and Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy.

James Mangold, the director of Logan and the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, will create a film that "will go back to the dawn of the Jedi".

Dave Filoni's film will explore a more familiar era for Disney+ subscribers and "focus on the New Republic" Among many other things, Filoni was the creator of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, an executive producer, episodic director, and writer on The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, and is the creator and executive producer on Ahsoka.

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the Academy Award- and Emmy Award-winning director behind Ms. Marvel, Saving Face, and more will lead a film "set after the events of Rise of Skywalker" that will "feature Daisy Ridley back as Rey as she builds a new Jedi Order."

Daisy Ridley Returning to Star Wars in Movie Set After Rise of Skywalker

As mentioned in the blurb above, Daisy Ridley will officially be returning to Star Wars as Rey in a new movie set 15 years after the events of The Rise of Skywalker. Directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the movie will see Rey will attempt to rebuild the Jedi Order as a Jedi Master.

"I’ve always been attracted to the hero’s journey and the fact that the world needs many more heroes," said Sharmeen. And the excitement was almost too much for Ridley.

"My heart is pounding," she said as she walked on stage to a screaming crowd at Star Wars Celebration. "I'm very thrilled to be continuing this journey."

Kathleen Kennedy Says New Star Wars Films Are 'Pretty Far Along' in Development

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has said the three newly announced Star Wars films are "pretty far along" in development.

Speaking to IGN at Star Wars Celebration, Kennedy made clear that the new films from Dave Filoni, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, and James Mangold aren't just ideas being thrown around at Lucasfilm but have been in development for a considerable amount of time.

"We're pretty far along," Kennedy said. "These are things, as you can imagine, certainly looking at what Dave's been doing with Ahsoka, that'll be at least six, seven years building to what it is we're going to be doing in a movie.

Star Wars Finally Looks Back to a Beloved Era as the Old Republic Returns to Canon

Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of the most beloved eras in the extended universe, but it has been left largely untouched by Disney's movies and television shows. That may be about to change, though, if a timeline shown during Star Wars Celebration is anything to go by.

Shortly before announcing several new Star Wars movies, LucasFilm studio head Kathleen Kennedy took the stage to share her vision for what Star Wars will look like in theaters.

That means "broadening the timeline," Kennedy says, as an image appeared highlighting seven major eras, which includes The Old Republic.

Dave Filoni on Whether His Star Wars Movie Is Mandalorian Finale: 'The Next Logical Step'

LucasFilm announced a new film by Dave Filoni, which many expect to be a grand finale for The Mandalorian. But will it? The answer is complicated.

Speaking with IGN in a new interview, Filoni said he thinks of the period where the movie is set as less of a "Mandalorian era" and more of a "New Republic period."

"I don't know if I'd call it [a finale]. I think of the time period now as the New Republic time period, and it's something that has existed long before we were ever making the Mandalorian.

"The idea that after Return of the Jedi there was a New Republic, and that the heroes still had to defend that Republic from the remnant Empire is a very old idea that we brought into the first season of the Mandalorian. Because it's what was always there."

Ahsoka Gets Release Window and Trailer, Season 2 Teased

Star Wars: Ahsoka will officially be released on Disney+ in August 2023, and Star Wars Celebration released the official trailer for the much-anticipated series. Furthermore, a second season was hinted at.

"If this does well, maybe we'll get a second season," said star Rosario Dawson. "It's up to y'all. I'm ready if you are."

The trailer was as action-packed as you'd expect and also saw the return of Star Wars: Rebels characters including Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), and Chopper. Mon Mothma was also shown.

While we didn't get to see him in full, we did get our first glimpse of live-action Grand Admiral Thrawn. "I started hearing whispers about Thrawn's return," Ahsoka said. "as heir to the Empire."

Rosario Dawson Teases the Search for Thrawn in Ahsoka

Speaking of the devil, one of the major plotlines of the live-action Ahsoka series will be the titular character’s hunt for Thrawn and star Rosario Dawson has teased what that journey might be.

During a dedicated Ahsoka panel, Dawson talked about the search and what’s driving Ahsoka so strongly in it. “Though she is not a Jedi, she has so much of that at heart for her. She’s driven by trying to do good,” Dawson said during the panel. “She sees a threat other people aren’t seeing."

Thrawn is one of the most beloved Star Wars characters in the extended universe, and though he appeared in Rebels, this will arguably be his first appearance in a mainstream Star Wars show, and definitely his first in live-action.

Grand Admiral Thrawn Will Be Played by Rebels' Lars Mikkelsen

Lucasfilm has finally revealed that Lars Mikkelsen will be playing the live-action version of Grand Admiral Thrawn in Star Wars: Ahsoka, the same actor who voiced the villain in Star Wars Rebels.

The arrival of Thrawn in live-action has been something fans have been waiting a very long time to see, and Star Wars Celebration 2023 finally gave them the answer as to who will be bringing the villain to life.

As far as we know so far, this is the only Rebels actor to make the jump to live-action, with other characters Hera Syndulla now being played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Sabine Wren being played by Natasha Liu Bordizzo.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead Playing Live-Action Version of Beloved Star Wars Rebels Character in Ahsoka

Mary Elizabeth Winstead has finally revealed her role in Ahsoka, confirming she will play the live-action version of beloved Rebels character Hera Syndulla.

Winstead was also briefly shown in her full costume as Twi'lek, which can be viewed in the tweet below. We've known since May last year that Winstead would be joining the cast, though didn't know who she'd be playing until now.

It does make sense, however, as fellow Rebels character Ezra Bridger was confirmed to be appearing in the show, played by Eman Esfandi.

Ahsoka Cast Explains How They Brought Beloved Rebels Characters to Live-Action

When Ahsoka arrives on Disney+ in August 2023, it will come complete with many character fans of the galaxy far, far away loved from Star Wars Rebels, including Hera Syndulla, Sabine Wren, and, obviously, Ahsoka Tano.

These characters originated in animation with different actresses and are now being brought to life in live-action by Mary Elizabeth-Winstead, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, and Rosario Dawson, respectively.

IGN had the chance to speak to all three of the actresses at Star Wars Celebration 2023, and they shared with us how they are bringing their characters to life in live-action.

Ahsoka Star Rosario Dawson Trained 14 Hours a Week to Recreate Animated Show Stunts

Ahsoka star Rosario Dawson trained for 14 hours a week to recreate the acrobatic combat style and stunts performed by the titular character in The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series.

Speaking to IGN at Star Wars Celebration, Dawson explained the challenges of taking a character that had once only existed in animated shows and bringing them to the live-action universe.

"I think there's definitely difficulties there, even just for the entire stunt team watching the animation, because we'd be working off of just the most amazing feats that someone could draw or imagine," she told IGN. "And then it was like, how do we actualize that in real life? And so the team of it was just really remarkable."

Mon Mothma Actress Reacts to Ahsoka Trailer Appearance

Mon Mothma actress Genevieve O'Reilly sat down with IGN at Star Wars Celebration 2023 to discuss not only her exciting appearance in the Ahsoka trailer, but also how her character has grown through hardships in Andor's first season.

Starting off with Ahsoka, we catch a glimpse of Mon Mothma in a hologram as Rosario Dawson's Ahsoka talks about the whispers of the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Mon Mothma has been a part of Star Wars since Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and now she'll get a chance to stand in the spotlight once more and O'Reilly couldn't be happier.

Andor Season 2 Is Aiming for an August 2024 Premiere Date

While we didn't get an exact date as to when Andor Season 2 will arrive on Disney+, series creator Tony Gilroy has confirmed the team is planning on having it ready for an August 2024 premiere date.

“We started shooting in November," Gilroy said. "We’re about halfway through. We’re going to shoot through August. We’re on the exact schedule. Finish in August, spend another year on post. I suppose we'll come out the following August."

We were also given a few clips from Season 2, and we hear Mon Mothma say, "If we do not stand together, we will be crushed." It also showed Cassian, Dedra, Syril, and Bix.

The Acolyte Is 'Frozen Meets Kill Bill,' First Details and 2024 Release Window Revealed

Star Wars: The Acolyte, the upcoming Disney+ series set during the end of the High Republic era, will make its way to Disney+ in 2024. While we weren't given an exact date, the cast and crew behind the series stopped by Star Wars Celebration to share a few details as to what fans can expect.

Star Wars: Acolyte's series creator Leslye Headland shared that she had always wanted to "delve into the Star Wars universe and tell the story of this entire world that I loved so much from the perspective of the bad guys."

"What I pitched to Kathleen Kennedy was Frozen meets Kill Bill. Shockingly, she didn’t kick me out of the building," Headland said. "It's High Republic near the beginning of the prequels and an exciting part of the timeline. This is when the bad guys are outnumbered. They are the underdogs. I’m really excited for you guys to see things you haven’t seen in live action yet.”

The Acolyte's Showunner Is Here to Challenge the Star Wars Universe

The Acolyte showrunner Leslye Headland is here to take on the Star Wars universe, and it's not just because her show is told from the perspective of the Sith.

Speaking to IGN at Star Wars Celebration, Headland explained that she started brainstorming The Acolyte by challenging the status quo.

"You just go, 'Well, where's the part that nobody's going, what about that?' And so to me, the institution of the Jedi was that," Headland said. "So they trained children and that seems super complicated of a thing. It's not criticism. It's just like, 'well, that seemed strange.'"

She even questioned decisions made by Lucasfilm previously, and ones regualrly brought up by fans, such as how Palpatine became supreme chancellor without Yoda knowing.

The Acolyte Showrunner Gets Emotional at Star Wars Celebration: 'Star Wars Saved My Life'

If any Star Wars fans were in doubt that the mind behind The Acolyte, the first live action show set during The High Republic era, was a big fan too, they might want to think again.

Speaking on the Star Wars Celebration main stage, The Acolyte showrunner Leslye Headland got emotional when talking about her appreciation of Star Wars, saying the franchise saved her life.

"I just have to say it is such an honour to be here," she said. "Star Wars saved my life." Headland took a moment before continuing, equally to let the crowd stop cheering and to hold back tears.

Star Wars The Acolyte Showrunner Breaks Down Which Part Is Frozen, Which Is Kill Bill

Following on from her earlier comments that The Acolyte was pitched as part Froze, part Kill Bill, The Acolyte showrunner Leslye Headland broke down what the heck that means.

Headland told IGN: "So much of it was about the sister relationship, so much of it was about the villain actually being a powerful, misunderstood woman. There was just so much of it that I couldn't believe what I was watching. I couldn't believe that it was a cartoon with music. It was hitting me on such a deep level and yet servicing the genre so well."

As for Kill Bill: "I think it's a really good reference for the modern day martial arts film," Headland explained. "Obviously, Tarantino took inspiration from a lot of the movies that our action team and a lot of our design team pulled from — which is stuff from the Shaw brothers to Akira Kurosawa in his samurai films, but also films like Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

Skeleton Crew Gets First Reveal at Star Wars Celebration

Star Wars: Skeleton Crew is an upcoming Disney+ series that is set to arrive in 2023. Star Wars Celebration has yet to reveal an exact date, but it did share the first trailer.

The trailer for Skeleton Crew, which stars Jude Law and is focused on a younger cast of characters, honed in very much on the show's Goonies inspirations. This was shown with kids in class, going through a residential area, running through a forest, and much more.

Lucasfilm also confirmed the directors for the series, and they include on Jon Watts, David Lowery, The Daniels, Jake Schreier, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Lee Isaac Chung.

Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi Is Officially Getting a Second Season

Dave Filoni has confirmed that Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi will officially be returning for a second season.

Filoni shared the news at the end of a panel celebrating the 15th anniversary of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and he revealed he just loved working on the first season so much that he wanted it to continue.

"Tales of the Jedi was so fun the first time, I decided to do some more," Filoni said simply.

Bad Batch Gets Third and Final Season Announcement

It’s official – The Bad Batch will return for Season 3, but it will be its last. The Mandalorian's Fennec Shand will also star in the show alongside the regular cast of characters.

During a panel at Star Wars Celebration in London, the popular Star Wars animated show was officially renewed for a third season.

“I can say that the story's not over," said the show's writer, Jennifer Corbett. "The Bad Batch will be back for a third and final season."

Star Wars Visions Volume 2 Gets First Look and New Info at Star Wars Celebration

Disney and Lucasfilm have given fans a first look at Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 at Star Wars Celebration in London.

A trailer for the new season, which gives the Star Wars license to creators from all over the world to produce their own unique stories, shows a ton of different art styles coming to the Visions world. These include CGI, hand drawn, and even what looks to be claymation.

Volume 2 is also set to bring more of a global perspective to Visions when it premieres on Disney+ on May 4, stepping away from the Japanese centric first volume.

The Lando Calrissian Series Is Definitely Still Happening

The Star Wars Lando Calrissian series is definitely still in the works at Disney, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has confirmed.

Speaking to IGN at Star Wars Celebration, Kennedy revealed that the long dormant show (probably) starring Donald Glover is still happening, though didn't share much as to when we might see more.

"I can just tell you it's still happening, and he's very excited about it," she said, all but confirming that Glover is definitely on board."

Taika Waititi 'Is Still Working Away' on His Star Wars Film

Taika Waititi's Star Wars film hasn't been scrapped by Disney despite it's absence Star Wars Celebration 2023.

Speaking to Variety at the event, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said "Taika is still working away" on the film, and it's just taking a while because he doesn't want anyone else helping with the script.

"He’s writing the script himself," Kennedy said. "He doesn’t really want to bring others into that process and I don’t blame him. He has a very, very unique voice."

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Gets Final Gameplay Trailer Ahead of Launch Later This Month

Star Wars: Jedi Survivor has received its final trailer ahead of its launch on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, and PC later this month.

Showing of a ton of gameplay footage alongside some new story cutscenes, set against an ominous yet hopeful monologue, the trailer was released during Star Wars Celebration 2023.

Cal Kestis is the main focus, and we see gameplay of him in a bunch of different fights. These include against Stormtroopers, Destroyer Droids from the prequel trilogy, and even a Rancor. We also see one gnarly scene where Cal throws a Scout trooper from a speeder straight into a TIE fighter.

Coruscant Is a Playable Planet in Star Wars: Jedi Survivor, but It May Not Be Open World

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor director Stig Asmussen has revealed Coruscant to be one of the planets featured in the sequel, though it may not be a fully explorable open world area.

Sharing the news at Star Wars Celebration, not long before he released the final gameplay trailer for Jedi: Survivor, Asmussen confirmed Coruscant was in the game.

"We're taking our Metroidvania approach a step further and, just to talk about another planet, we're going to have Coruscant as well," he said. "I think there's been a lot of speculation on that, and [I'm] just confirming it here."

Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau Discuss Their Star Wars Film, Ahsoka, and More

The Star Wars canvas keeps getting bigger for Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, the dynamic duo behind the success of The Mandalorian.

During Star Wars Celebration, Kathleen Kennedy took to the stage to formally announce Dave Filoni’s Star Wars movie, which will be set during The New Republic. For Filoni and Favreau, it’s the “next logical step” and a case of “where the rubber hits the road,” though they’re hesitant to call it a finale for The Mandalorian.

In a new interview with IGN, which you can watch below, Filoni and Favreau talk about the new project; their evolving understanding of how to approach the Star Wars universe, and Filoni’s giant whiteboard featuring the Star Wars timeline.

The Mandalorian: Season 3 Episode 7 Clip Teases the Return of a Beloved Star Wars Character

While the cat is now out of the bag, guests in attendance at Lucasfilm's Studio Showcase were treated to a clip from next week's seventh episode of The Mandalorian's third season, and it teased the return of a beloved Star Wars character.

Spoilers ahead for Season 3, Episode 7 of The Mandalorian!

The clip begins with Elia Kane speaking to Moff Gideon on hologram, and she tells the character played by Giancarlo Esposito that "Karga was aided by Mandalorians." Gideon then says he will deal with them before speaking to Captain Pallaeon about the whereabouts of Grand Admiral Thrawn.

"Grand Admiral Thrawn is missing," Moff Gideon said. "With respect, our one hope for success relies upon the secrecy of his return," Pallaeon replied.

"I never hear a word of Thrawn. You've spoken of his imminent return. Perhaps it's time that we look to new leadership."

Mandalorian Producer Confirms Din Djarin is No Longer the Only Main Character

The Mandalorian began as a show about Din Djarin and Grogu, though fans have begun asking if that's still the case as Season 3 explores more of the Mandalorians as a people instead of just a person.

Executive producer Rick Famuyiwa has addressed those questions in an interview with IGN, and yes, the fans are right to question it. Turns out, the titular Mandalorian is no longer considered to be just Din.

"I think that's been interesting as we've been on the journey of the show, and now that we're at this point, is that, what does that title mean?," Famuyiwa told IGN.

Mandalorian Showrunners on Ahmed Best's Celebrated Return to Star Wars: 'It Was a Big Decision'

The Mandalorian showrunners Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni stopped by Lucasfilm's Studio Showcase to discuss the "big decision" to cast Ahmed Best as Jedi Master Kelleran Beq in The Mandalorian and have him be the one to save Grogu from the events of Order 66.

“Ahmed walked out on stage [at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago in 2019] and just the outpouring of appreciation," said Favreau. "The opportunity for this role came up, and we knew we had to have someone – who was gonna be the one who rescues Baby Grogu? We were talking about that process of, who would it be and who should it be?”

“It was a big decision, but I don’t think there is anybody better than Ahmed," said Filoni. “The appreciation when he appeared on screen was such a wonderful moment, also the fact that we kept it all a secret until it came out. It was tremendous outpouring of appreciation, that was as much fun as the episode itself.”

Return of the Jedi Influenced The Mandalorian

Return of the Jedi wasn’t just the end of a trilogy, it was the beginning of a new way of filmmaking.

During a panel at Star Wars Celebration in London, Star Wars creatives discussed the influence of this 40-year-old film on the most recent Star Wars projects.

“For all of our new films now, I always try to add that new component of something new,” said Lucasfilm executive creative director, Doug Chiang. “Star Wars design is very defined in terms of that box that George [Lucas] created but within that box, there’s a lot of freedom, and I love to push the envelope in terms of what that box is.”

Ewan McGregor 'Really Wants' Obi-Wan Season 2, But Lucasfilm Doesn't Just Yet

Star Wars prequel trilogy star Ewan McGregor is apparently eager to make another season of the Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ series.

Speaking to Variety at Star Wars Celebration 2023, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy explained how the Obi-Wan actor (and the fans) might want another season, but it's not something the studio is considering just yet.

"That is not an active development," Kennedy said of Season 2. "But I never say never, because there’s always the possibility. That show was so well-received and [director] Deborah Chow did such a spectacular job."

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen on those Big Lightsaber Duels

Obi-Wan Kenobi stars Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen have opened up about their big lightsaber duels from the show’s first season.

During a panel at Star Wars Celebration in London, the two Star Wars prequel stars discussed what it meant to return to the franchise – and to take each other on once more.

“It’s a great bit of Star Wars and a really important scene,” said Christensen. “Not just to the tragedy of the character of Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader but the tragedy of the relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan.”

Star Wars Rogue Squadron Could Still Happen, Says Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has said the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron film could still happen despite its production fizzling away at Disney.

Speaking to IGN at Star Wars Celebration, Kennedy gave fans disappointed by the film's supposed cancellation a little hope.

"Rogue Squadron, that definitely is something that we still talk about," she said, though alluded that it may not return in the same way. "Whether it's a movie, or whether it ends up being in the series space, that's definitely something."

Rian Johnson's Star Wars Trilogy Is 'Not Actively' in Development

The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson's Star Wars trilogy is not being actively developed, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has revealed.

Speaking to Variety at Star Wars Celebration 2023, Kennedy gave an update on some of the previously announced Star Wars films that have seemingly taken a back seat to the three newly announced movies.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Gets New Trailer

Indiana Jones is back in a new glimpse at Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. the new trailer gives us a closer look at what's going on in the upcoming Indiana Jones sequel, with hints of an artifact that can change the course of history.

Harrison Ford returns as famed archaeologist Indiana Jones in a new adventure alongside Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Helena Shaw, Indy's goddaughter and partner in crime during his upcoming adventure.

There's also a brief glimpse of Mads Mikkelsen's villainous Jurgen Voller who seems to be aiming to bring about the return of Hitler and the Nazis. "Hitler made mistakes," he says. "And with this, I will correct them all."

Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.

30 Mar 11:10

The Mandalorian Season 3, Episode 5 Easter Eggs: 6 Things You Missed In Chapter 21: The Pirate

The plot is really starting to ramp up on Season 3 of The Mandalorian. Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) has managed to ingratiate herself pretty well with Din Djarin's Children of the Watch. Nevarro and Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) are once again under attack, this time by pirates, and a New Republic pilot wants to help--but the Republic itself doesn't. And Djarin himself (Pedro Pascal) and his cult-ish Mando pals seem very much like they're ready for more action after the battle with the lizard bird last week.

Warning: This article contains major spoilers for the March 29 episode of The Mandalorian, Chapter 21: The Pirate.

Remember in the Season 3 premiere when a few pirate thugs threatened Greef Karga and Mando, and then Mando had to kill all but one of them before sending the last one away with a warning for the pirate king Gorian Shard? Well, that creepy seaweed man has brought his big ship to Nevarro and has the planet under siege.

Karga manages to get off a message to the New Republic pilot Carson Teva, who has popped up several previous times on The Mandalorian. Teva wants the Republic to intervene, but they won't--and so he tells Djarin and the other Mandalorians about the situation in hopes that they'll deal with it. Inspired by an impassioned speech from Paz Vizsla and Karga's promise of land on Nevarro, the Children of the Watch embrace the chance to flex their muscle against the pirate king.

While Season 3 of The Mandalorian has certainly not thrown around references to other Star Wars things as often as past seasons did, we've still got a healthy collection of nods to not just the greater Star Wars universe but also to our own. You can check out this week's selection of Easter eggs below.

1. Greef Karga loads up an astromech droid with a distress message like Princess Leia did

It's an iconic shot from the original Star Wars film: Princess Leia leaning over R2-D2 after recording her message asking for help from Obi-Wan. Near the beginning of this episode, we get an odd visual reference to that moment with Greef Karga leaning over another astromech droid in identical fashion to start recording his message of distress for Carson Teva.

2. Zeb from Rebels

When Teva receives the message at whatever remote New Republic base he's living on, we see him chatting with a large CGI alien guy--this is Zeb (Steve Blum), one of the main characters from the Star Wars animated series Rebels. He doesn't get to actually do anything here, but the fact that they did the work to animate him should give Rebels fans hope that he'll appear elsewhere in this show or the upcoming Ahsoka series in the future.

3. Cameos by Deborah Chow, Dave Filoni and Rick Famuyiwa

In that very same scene, we have blink-and-you'll-miss-them cameos by three major real-world power players behind Star Wars television: Dave Filoni, showrunner for The Clone Wars, Rebels, and The Bad Batch animated series; Deborah Chow, showrunner and director of the Obi-Wan series; and Rick Famuyiwa, producer and director on The Mandalorian. The three of them are hanging out on the opposite end of the bar from Teva and are very easy to miss--the shot above with them out of focus in the foreground is our clearest shot of them during this scene.

4. Tim Meadows

When Teva travels to Coruscant in person to convince the Republic to help Nevarro (there's no way this was actually faster than calling), the person he hits up is a colonel played by the ever delightful comedian and SNL alum Tim Meadows.

5. Carson Teva knew R5-D4 from the Rebellion

When Teva flies to the Mandalorian covert to ask them to help Nevarro, Din Djarin wonders how he found them. "Someone I served with in the Rebellion is amongst your ranks," Teva says, before R5-D4 announces himself as the spy. While we have no idea about the specifics that Teva is referring to in this timeline, this is a clear nod to R5's obscure history in the old defunct Expanded Universe. After the incident with R2 and the Jawas in the old continuity, R5-D4 worked as a spy for a Republic intelligence officer on Tatooine for years.

That officer wasn't a character in a story, though, but rather the in-universe author of a bunch of Star Wars Role Playing Game sourcebooks. Believe it or not, those sourcebooks actually were canon and helped establish a lot of baseline aspects of the Star Wars universe.

6. Echoes of the Super Star Destroyer crashing in Return of the Jedi

At the end of this episode's big battle between Gorian Shard's pirates and the Mandalorians, Din Djarin and Bo-Katan take out the engines on Shard's large flagship, sending it toward the ground in flames just like the Super Star Destroyer plummeted into the Death Star during the battle at the end of Return of the Jedi. But this isn't just a visual reference. This episode of The Mandalorian also borrows the sound of the Super Star Destroyer falling--a tone that gradually increases in pitch as the ship approaches the surface.

30 Mar 11:05

The Mandalorian: How Zeb Orrelios and Bo-Katan's Star Wars: Rebels History Means Trouble for the Resurgent Empire

by Jesse Schedeen

Warning: this article contains full spoilers for The Mandalorian: Season 3, Episode 5! If you haven't already, be sure to check out IGN's review of "The Pirate."

The Mandalorian is set years after the events of Return of the Jedi, in a time of relative peace and prosperity. But if we learned anything from the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, it’s that this peace is doomed to end eventually. And thanks to The Mandalorian: Season 3, we have a much clearer picture of why the New Republic fails to stop the rise of the First Order.

Season 3, Episode 5 lays even more puzzle pieces into place. The final scene both confirms that Moff Gideon has escaped and strongly hints that the Republic is about to come into conflict with the Mandalorians. This episode also serves as the live-action debut of another fan-favorite Star Wars Rebels character - Steve Blum’s Zeb Orrelios.

Here’s a closer look and what we learned, why there seems to be a war brewing and why Zeb and Bo-Katan may be the heroes the galaxy needs right now.

Zeb Orrelios in The Mandalorian

The biggest development in “The Pirate” is easily the unexpected but very welcome cameo from another Star Wars Rebels character. Steve Blum’s Zeb Orrelios joins Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka Tano and Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan Kryze in making the jump to live-action. And with Natasha Liu Bordizzo confirmed to be playing Sabine Wren in the upcoming Ahsoka series, we’re getting closer to having every main character from Rebels make that journey.

In Rebels, Zeb was one of the regular crew members of Hera Syndulla’s ship The Ghost (which itself had a brief cameo in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker). He’s a member of the Lasat species, which is inspired by artist Ralph McQuarrie’s original character design for Chewbacca and the Wookiees.

Like all his fellow Spectres, Zeb was a key figure in the early days of the Rebel Alliance. Zeb joined the Rebels after seeing his homeworld of Lasan destroyed by the Empire. Hotheaded by nature, Zeb nevertheless proved his mettle again and again and even wound up befriending the ex-Imperial agent Alexsandr Kallus.

Zeb also happens to be friends with Bo-Katan, a character who played a key role in later seasons of Rebels. That alone suggests his appearance in Episode 5 may be more than a quick nod to Rebels. The Empire is clearly looking to start a new war, and Zeb and Bo-Katan could be the key to foiling that plan.

Zeb and Bo-Katan’s History

Zeb and Bo-Katan have some experience fighting the Empire together. In Star Wars Rebels, Mandalore is wracked by civil war after Bo-Katan is ousted as the planet’s regent and replaced by the Imperial sympathizer Gar Saxon. The Spectres join the fight against Saxon after House Wren (of which Sabine Wren is a member) rise up in opposition to Saxon’s forces.

Zeb plays his part in liberating Mandalore and overthrowing Saxon. In the end, Bo-Katan accepts the Darksaber from Sabine and becomes the rightful ruler of Mandalore. Though as we’ve seen over the past two seasons of The Mandalorian, her reign was tragically short-lived. Still, she’ll always have an ally in Zeb, and someone who can vouch for her in the New Republic's ranks.

Moff Gideon’s Escape

The Mandalorian: Season 2 ended with Din Djarin defeating Moff Gideon in a one-on-one duel and winning the Darksaber. Gideon was taken into New Republic custody at that point, and we haven’t seen him resurface yet in Season 3. However, recent episodes hinted that Gideon escaped New Republic custody before he could be brought to a war crimes tribunal.

“The Pirate” confirms as much in its final scene. Paul Sun-Hyung Lee’s Carson Teva comes across a derelict transport shuttle confirmed to be the one carrying Gideon. He finds evidence that Gideon was “extracted” during the attack, leaving us to assume Gideon is now free and back in control of the Imperial Remnant.

The only clue as to the identity of the attackers is traces of Beskar ore left behind on the ship. This would seem to suggest that a group of Mandalorians intercepted Gideon’s shuttle. It’s always possible this was actually the case. Maybe there’s a rogue group of Mandalorians out there who either don’t mind aiding the Empire for the right price or decided to take revenge on Gideon themselves.

However, the more likely scenario is that the Beskar was planted as a red herring. Gideon is a crafty guy, hence why he’s managed to stay in control of the rapidly deteriorating Empire for so many years. With his own resources dwindling, Gideon probably decided the best way to handle his two enemies is to manipulate them into fighting each other.

With “evidence” that the Mandalorians attacked a New Republic vessel and killed several soldiers, the New Republic may have no choice but to go to war against Pedro Pascal’s Din Djarin and his people.

This conflict comes at an especially awkward time for the Mandalorians. They’re just beginning to reunify under Din and Bo-Katan. They finally have a home again on Nevarro and are no longer so difficult to track down. They may have just painted a target on their backs right as the New Republic is beginning to regard them as a threat. Gideon must be pretty pleased with himself.

The New Republic and the Mandalorians in Star Wars Legends

With The Mandalorian canon-izing so many elements from the pre-Disney Star Wars Expanded Universe, you may be wondering what those old stories revealed about the relationship between the New Republic and Mandalore. Did these two forces go to war in the EU as well?

Quite the opposite, actually. After the fall of the Empire, it’s Boba Fett who unifies the people of Mandalore (Din Djarin doesn’t exist in the EU). Mandalore ends up becoming a key ally in the New Republic’s devastating war against the Yuuzhan Vong, as chronicled in the New Jedi Order series of novels. Later, Boba himself helps train Han and Leia’s daughter Jaina as she fights to overthrow her Dark Side-corrupted brother, Jacen. Clearly, this is one area where Disney’s Star Wars and the Expanded Universe don’t align.

Elia Kane: Imperial Spy

“The Pirate” reminds us about another important Season 3 development thanks to the return of Katy M. O’Brian’s Elia Kane. Previously, we learned Kane is among the Imperial soldiers recruited into the Republic’s Amnesty Program, though Episode 3 casts serious doubt on the idea that Kane has genuinely reformed. Her actions in betraying Omed Abtahi’s Dr. Pershing and wiping his mind suggest she’s still working as a deep cover agent for Moff Gideon.

We can see in this episode the subtle ways in which Kane is still trying to manipulate events in the Empire’s favor. She convinces Tim Meadows’ Captain Tuttle not to intervene in the conflict on Nevarro, effectively arguing that Nevarro needs to pay the price for not joining with the New Republic when it had the chance. We may continue to see Kane pop up at key moments, using her position and friendly demeanor to manipulate hapless New Republic officials.

Kane’s return is another uncomfortable reminder that the New Republic is far too guilty of employing the same methods as the Empire. Tuttle didn’t act out of malice - he’s more of a haggard middle manager trying to do too much with too little - but there’s still something deeply troubling about the idea of letting a world suffer before extending a helping hand. And as we saw in “The Convert,” the Republic is relying on the same brainwashing/mental conditioning tech the Empire once used. The New Republic may have nobler intentions in mind, but we all know how the saying goes…

How Zeb and the New Republic’s Rangers Fit In

The Mandalorian is showing us that the Empire is still a real threat to the galaxy at this point in the timeline, even if this organization is a shadow of its former self. And we know that it’s only a matter of time until the Imperial Remnant morphs into the much stronger First Order and brings the New Republic to its knees.

Unfortunately, Carson Teva seems to be the one man in the entire New Republic even remotely aware of this growing threat. We’ve seen him repeatedly allude to a new threat amassing on the far reaches of the galaxy. This episode shows how his superiors turn a deaf ear to his warnings of caution and vigilance.

With Teva being the one to find proof of Gideon’s escape and the supposed involvement of the Mandalorians, it’s enough to wonder if he’s going to become more of an antagonistic figure in the series. Is Teva going to wind up leading the war against the Mandalorians?

Everything we’ve seen of Teva so far suggests not. He’s too smart to be fully convinced by the convenient evidence left behind. He’s had dealings with Din in the past. He knows that the Mandalorians came to Nevarro’s aid when the New Republic wouldn’t. If anything, Teva seems likely to be the one soldier pushing back against a war against the Mandalorians. We may see even more friction between Teva and his commanding officers. Season 3 seems to be setting up Carson and his team as good soldiers struggling to do what’s right in a galaxy where right and wrong are no longer so clearly defined.

This may be where Zeb Orrelios comes in. Teva will probably have his doubts about the Mandalorians’ role in this conflict, but Zeb is someone who can personally vouch for Bo-Katan, having fought the Empire alongside her. If these two characters end up reuniting in Season 3, that could be the alliance that ruins Gideon’s warmongering. And who knows? Maybe their reunion will help set the stage for the Ahsoka series.

It’s also enough to wonder if the show is drawing on plans for the Rangers of the New Republic spinoff series. That show’s fate seems to be in doubt thanks to the firing of Cara Dune actress Gina Carano, but certain plot elements could be working their way back into The Mandalorian now.

Whatever the case, there’s a new war brewing in the galaxy, but it’s not the one the New Republic should be waging. When Mandalorians fight the New Republic, the only one who wins is Moff Gideon. Let’s hope Zeb can save the day once again.

For more on The Mandalorian, find out why the series desperately needs a sense of urgency and learn about a possible link to Star Wars: The Bad Batch.

Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.

29 Mar 08:19

Amazon begins flagging ‘frequently returned’ products

by Will Shanklin

Amazon has begun displaying a warning about frequently returned items as the company tightens its belt in response to shaky finances and an uncertain economy. Industry-wide e-commerce returns skyrocketed during pandemic lockdowns. Although they’ve declined, they’re still well above pre-pandemic numbers.

The retailer’s new badge reads, “Frequently returned item: Check the product details and customer reviews to learn more about this item.” However, it doesn’t appear visible to everyone (my Amazon account doesn’t show it when viewing the record player and dresses that The Informationreported on). That may suggest Amazon is deploying a gradual rollout or a limited test. In addition, the tagged products all appear to be from third-party vendors fulfilled by Amazon.

An Amazon product page for a record player with an orange and yellow
Amazon / The Verge

Product returns and exchanges are a convenience businesses use to help customers shop confidently, but they can also be expensive. Return-related costs include shipping, processing the returned inventory and other miscellaneous expenses. The company likely hopes the label will nudge sellers to modify their listings or products, as a prominent alert could seriously damage an item’s sales. Of course, retailers factor returns into their pricing, but with rates higher than usual as companies cut spending (Amazon has announced layoffs for 27,000 employees this year), it makes sense it would crack down.

Some sellers have said their customers return items at a higher clip on Amazon than when bought from other outlets, a discrepancy they chalk up to Amazon’s easy checkout process and fast Prime shipping. The retailer has already passed on some of the extra expenses to vendors, as it raised fees for “Fulfilled by Amazon” sellers earlier this year.

“We’re currently showing return rate information on some product detail pages to help our customers make more informed purchase decisions,” Amazon spokesperson Betsy Harden confirmed to The Information this week. It isn’t the first time Amazon has highlighted sales data publicly: The company recently began displaying a badge showing how many sales a product made (for example, “100K+ bought in past month”).

In December, the National Retail Foundation (NRF) reported that online return rates rose to 18 percent in 2020 — when customers tallied $428 billion in returned merchandise — from a mere 8.1 percent in 2019. They only dropped slightly to 16.5 percent last year. Unfortunately, bogus returns are another concern: The NRF says retailers lose $10.40 to return fraud for every $100 in returned merchandise.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
23 Mar 10:23

Who saved Grogu from Order 66 in The Mandalorian season 3 episode 4?

by (Tom Power)

Huge spoilers follow for The Mandalorian season 3 episode 4.

The fourth episode of The Mandalorian season 3 has debuted on Disney Plus – and it contains an unexpected cameo from a deep-cut Star Wars character.

Titled The Foundling, this season's fourth chapter puts the focus back on Grogu, with the youngster introduced to Mandalorian combat training for the first time. As the episode's events unfold, Grogu – also known as Baby Yoda – has a flashback to Order 66, aka the Galactic Empire's genocidal masterplan to wipe out every Jedi in the galaxy, which takes place in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

With The Mandalorian taking place in the years after Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi, though, Grogu clearly survived. And he has a particular Jedi Master to thank for escaping the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, which is where Grogu and his fellow Jedi Padawan were training before Order 66 was executed.

Major spoilers follow for The Foundling. Turn back now if you're not caught up!

Four Jedi prepare to defend the temple in The Mandalorian season 3

The Foundling reveals how Grogu survived Order 66. (Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney Plus)

Who is Kelleran Beq, the Jedi that rescued Baby Yoda?

Jedi Master Kelleran Beq #Grogu #AhmedBest #jedi #KelleranBeq #TheMandalorian 22, 2023

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So, who's the individual that saves Grogu from being slaughtered alongside his Jedi Padawan brethren? That would be Kelleran Beq, who's portrayed by Ahmed Best. Yes, that Ahmed Best. The same actor who played the much maligned Jar-Jar Binks in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

It's okay if you haven't heard of Beq before. As I said, he's a deep-cut character in the Star Wars universe – and one who actually made his debut in that famous galaxy far, far away in a kid-friendly Star Wars game show, which was titled Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge.

Released in June 2020 on and the sci-fi franchise's YouTube channel, the 10-part series put its young contestants through a number of Jedi-based challenges to test their aptitude and ability to become a Jedi. The show was hosted by – yep, you guessed it – Best's Beq, who was accompanied by his droid companion AD-3.

What's this got to do with The Mandalorian? Well, as a Jedi Master who trained Force-sensitive youngsters in the ways of the Force, it makes sense that Beq would be someone charged with protecting the Jedi Temple's Padawan charges. With Emperor Palpatine's Order 66 putting those kids in mortal danger, Beq would do anything to keep them safe from harm and ensure they live to fight another day.

As The Foundling shows, not many Jedi Padawan made it out alive. Baby Yoda was one of the lucky few, however, with Beq – aided by some sympathetic Royal Naboo security forces, AD-3, and his astromech droid LX-R5 – smuggling Grogu out of the Jedi Temple. 

Kelleran Beq stares at something off-camera in The Mandalorian season 3 episode 4

Kelleran Beq rescues Grogu in The Mandalorian season 3 episode 4 (Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney Plus)

It's Beq's heroic moment that inevitably leads to Grogu and Din Djarin – the titular Mandalorian, played by everyone's favorite dad pal Pedro Pascal – meeting in the TV series' premiere episode. With the intervention of Beq, whose nickname is the extremely cool sounding 'The Sabered Hand', Baby Yoda wouldn't have Force-jumped into our lives and hearts.

Without Beq, Best wouldn't have had the heart-warming Star Wars redemption story he deserved, either. Although, given the horrific abuse he endured post-The Phantom Menace, it's debatable whether he needed to redeem himself or not.

In July 2018, the actor tweeted (as reported by The Huffington Post) that he thought about taking his own life after the vitriolic backlash he endured from the franchise's fanbase in the wake of playing Binks in Star Wars: Episode I. Thankfully, in the years since, many fans have seen the error of their ways and Best is still here. Now, almost 25 years on from the lowest point of his career, Best has played two iconic characters in the Star Wars universe – both of whom had major says in good triumphing over evil.

For more Star Wars-based content, find out how to watch the Star Wars movies in order. Additionally, read our exclusive chat with The Mandalorian season 3 director-executive producer Rick Famuyiwa, read up on what we know about Star Wars: Ahsoka, and check out which Star Wars TV shows made it onto our best Disney Plus shows list.

17 Mar 22:46

Lance Reddick, Star of The Wire and John Wick, Dies at 60

by Logan Plant

Lance Reddick, the actor known for roles in The Wire, John Wick, and Horizon Zero Dawn, has died at age 60. Reddick's representatives shared a statement with IGN following the actor's passing:

"Acclaimed actor Lance Reddick passed away suddenly this morning from natural causes.

Lance was best known for his roles in “The Wire,” “Bosch," Netflix’s “Resident Evil” and the John Wick films.

He is survived by his wife Stephanie Reddick and children Yvonne Nicole Reddick and Christopher Reddick.

Donations in his memory can be made to in Baltimore, his hometown.

Lance will be greatly missed.

Please respect his family’s privacy at this time."

Reddick was best known for his role as Cedric Daniels in The Wire, which he starred in from 2002 to 2008. Recently, Reddick starred in the John Wick franchise as Charon. Reddick was in the middle of a press tour for John Wick: Chapter 4, where he will appear as the Continental Hotel's concierge once more. The actor also appeared as Chef Irvin in Amazon Prime's Bosch, along with recurring roles in Lost, Oz, and more.

The actor also had prominent roles in a number of high-profile video games. He played Sylens in Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West, Commander Zavala in the Destiny franchise, and Martin Hatch in Quantum Break. Reddick also appeared as Albert Wesker in last year's live-action Resident Evil series.

Reddick had multiple projects in the work, including a role as Zeus in Disney+'s upcoming Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, as well as a part in Amazon Prime's The Legend of Vox Machina.

Reddick studied music at the University of Rochester before earning a Master of Fine Arts defree from the Yale School of Drama in 1994.

Image Credit: Rich Polk / Stringer

Editor's note: This story was updated to include the statement from Reddick's representatives.

Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over six years of experience in the gaming industry with bylines at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.

14 Mar 11:38

Those lovely Samsung phone moon photos derided as 'AI fakes'

by Chris Smith
Samsung Moon shot
Image credit: u/ibreakphotos on Reddit

The lovely pictures of the moon you’ve taken using the 100x ‘Space Zoom’ feature on your Samsung Galaxy smartphone are ‘fake’ according to a reddit user who has investigated the oft-debated matter.

The Redditor u/ibreakphotos believes the photos users see in their camera roll (like the one above) are simply overlaid with more detail using, (yep, you guessed it) AI and machine learning techniques.

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Samsung is taking the blurry moon photos (which the sensor and zoom capabilities are actually capable of capturing) and adding the moon detail at the back end, using a neural network trained on thousands of images of the moon to “recover/add texture” according to the Redditor.

The investigation concluded: “The moon pictures from Samsung are fake. Samsung’s marketing is deceptive. It is adding detail where there is none (in this experiment, it was intentionally removed).

“…they mention multi-frames, multi-exposures, but the reality is, it’s AI doing most of the work, not the optics, the optics aren’t capable of resolving the detail that you see. Since the moon is tidally locked to the Earth, it’s very easy to train your model on other moon images and just slap that texture when a moon-like thing is detected.”

Image credit: u/ibreakphotos on Reddit

That isn’t something that’s been acknowledged by Samsung, which says “no image overlaying or texture effects are applied when taking a photo.” However, if you turn off the “scene optimiser” you just get a standard blurry picture of the moon you’d expect from a smartphone camera.

However, in a post on Samsung’s community page last year (translated from Korean and via The Verge), the company does say: “Since the Galaxy S10, AI technology has been applied to the camera so that users can take the best photos regardless of time and place.”

“From Galaxy S21, even when you take a picture of the moon, AI recognises the target as the moon through learned data, and multi-frame synthesis and deep learning-based ai technology when shooting. The detail improvement engine function that makes the picture clearer has been applied.”

Samsung has used moon photography was a major marketing tool for its flagship phones in recent years, including this commercial for the S23 Ultra. However, it appears Samsung could be a little bit more upfront about how it gets to the end results.

We have contacted Samsung seeking clarification.

The post Those lovely Samsung phone moon photos derided as 'AI fakes' appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

02 Mar 14:28

2023 BMW iX5 Prototype First Drive Review: The future isn’t (battery) electric

by Ronan Glon
01 Mar 15:56

Decentralised Twitter rival Bluesky arrives with Jack Dorsey backing

by Jon Mundy

A new Twitter rival has hit the market in the shape of Bluesky, which has the distinction of coming with the backing of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

While the app has landed on the App Store, the service itself is only available as part of a private beta, which means that you’ll require an invite code to join up.

Bluesky looks to be a fairly faithful Twitter-like social media app, with the ability to share brief posts and pictures, as well as comment and like. Indeed, the project actually started life within Twitter’s walls, though it spun off as its own separate company last year and added deposed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to the board.

The key distinguishing feature of Bluesky over something like Twitter is its decentralised nature, powered by the so-called Authenticated Transfer Protocol, aka the AT Protocol. This is the real launch here, providing so-called “federated social network”, with many separate sites able to communicate with one another, rather like how email works.

The benefit of this approach is account ownership and portability, with no one corporation owning your online identity. Imagine if, when you reached the end of your tether with Twitter, you could have just moved your account wholesale to a completely different service, retaining all your data.

Another benefit that Bluesky touts is algorithmic choice. Don’t like the recommended posts that the service is surfacing for you? Tweak that algorithm to suit.

The Bluesky app is basically being treated as the ‘browser’ sitting on top of that AT Protocol. The company rather grandly likens it to launching a web browser alongside the World Wide Web.

You can join the Bluesky beta invite waiting list here.

The post Decentralised Twitter rival Bluesky arrives with Jack Dorsey backing appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

28 Feb 08:49

You can now fly the largest aircraft ever built in 'Microsoft Flight Simulator'

by Kris Holt

One year ago today, the largest aircraft ever built was destroyed during the early days of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Now, the Antonov An-225 Mriya is once again taking to the skies — albeit in Microsoft Flight Simulator. What's more, if you buy the add-on, you could help restore the only real-life Mriya that was ever completed.

The Ukraine-built Mriya was an ultra-heavy lift jet transport aircraft with six engines. It was the heaviest aircraft ever built and it had the largest wingspan of any plane at 290 feet. The Mriya, which had its first flight in 1988, was used to transport things like Soviet space shuttles, tanks, diesel locomotives and dozens of cars at a time.

An Antonov An-225 Mriya cargo plane, the world's biggest aircraft, destroyed by Russian troops amid Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, is seen at an airfield in the settlement of Hostomel, in Kyiv region, Ukraine August 10, 2022. REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi
Stringer . / reuters

A second Mriya was in the works, but it was never finished. There are plans to reconstruct the plane by using parts of the destroyed Mriya and pieces from the unfinished airframe. The project is expected to cost over $500 million.

The Microsoft Flight Simulator version of the Antonov An-225 Mriya is available in six liveries, including an Xbox Aviators Club one. It's in the in-game marketplace on PC today and will be available for the Xbox Series X/S and cloud versions later this month. The Mriya costs $20, with all proceeds going to the Antonov Corporation's Mryia reconstruction efforts. Meanwhile, iniBuilds, the team behind the virtual Mriya, has released a manual and other details about the plane on its forums.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
28 Feb 08:39

The Night Manager Is Finally Coming Back for a Second Season

by Michaela Zee

A second season of The Night Manager is finally in the works according to Deadline, with Tom Hiddleston set to return as Jonathan Pine.

The John le Carré adaptation is expected to receive a two-season order from Amazon Prime Video and the BBC. Production on the second season will begin later this year in London and South America.

The Night Manager follows Pine, a night porter of a luxury Cairo hotel and former British soldier, who is recruited by an intelligence operative to infiltrate illegal arms dealer Richard Roper’s (Hugh Laurie) inner circle. Season 2 will reportedly open with Pine learning that Roper died two years ago, and he now has to face a new, more dangerous challenge.

Directed by Susanne Bier, the first season aired on AMC and also starred Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander, David Harewood, and Elizabeth Debicki. David Farr, who wrote the original six-part miniseries, is back to write Season 2.

The Night Manager scored two Emmy wins for best direction and musical composition, and Hiddleston, Laurie, and Colman each nabbed a Golden Globe for their performances in the series. The Ink Factory, which is run by le Carré’s sons Simon and Stephen Cornwell, will produce the upcoming season.

Michaela Zee is a freelance news writer for IGN. You can follow her on Twitter at @michaelakzee.

25 Feb 21:33

Microsoft tries ChatGPT on robots and the results are impressive

by Sharron Bennet
Researchers at Microsoft recently tested ChatGPT on robot arms, drones, and home assistant robots. The company shared that the general conclusion of the experiment delivered excellent results, signifying a bright future for ChatGPT in the robotics realm. The arrival of ChatGPT signaled the birth of the modern AI era globally. After Microsoft announced integrating the […]
24 Feb 08:44

Amazon Fire TV devices get an amazing upgrade for hearing implant users

In arguably one of the most genuinely beneficial software updates we’ve seen in a while, Amazon has launched a new feature that enables audio to be streamed directly from its Amazon Fire TV devices to hearing implants.

A collaboration with hearing device maker Cochlear, the feature makes use of the open source Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA) protocol and marks the first time that a smart TV device can stream sound directly to a hearing implant processor.

The feature is now available for Fire TV Omni Series, Fire TV Omni QLED Series, Fire TV 4-Series, Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen) and Fire TV Cube (3rd Gen) devices and can work in conjunction with Cochlear Nucleus 8, Nucleus 7, Nucleus Kanso 2 and Baha 6 Max sound processors.

Cochlear already offers direct sound streaming to its Nucleus Sound Processor devices from iPhone or Android phones.

According to Amazon, the new accessibility feature will offer Cochlear users a more comfortable way to watch their favorite movies and TV shows as well as use Alexa, listen to music, and hear navigational sounds.

The new Cochlear feature follows Amazon’s recent move to offer ASHA support on Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen) for Bluetooth hearing aids made by Starkey, the company which manufactures the Audibel, NuEar, MicroTech and Audigy brands.

A blog post and accompanying video featuring hearing-impaired Amazon software engineer Michael Forzano who helped test the feature, highlights just how much of a profound effect the new functionality could have for Cochlear users.

In the posting Forzano, states he didn’t watch TV because he’d miss “40–50% of the words thanks to echoing and poor sound quality.” Using his implant in conjunction with Fire TV appears to have had a real impact in terms of quality of life improvement, with Forzano stating: “I’m really excited for the world that this is going to open up for me”.

The back of a man's head, with the Cochlear implant in place. A TV is visible in the background

With direct streaming to implants such as this one, watching TV just got a lot easier for some people – from compatible Fire TV devices, at least. (Image credit: Amazon)

Analysis: Amazon support is an encouraging sign for those affected by hearing loss

With as many as 430 million in the world currently living with some form of hearing impairment according to the World Health Organization, and a recent report warning that one billion young people worldwide could be at risk of hearing damage from listening to headphones at too-loud volumes, it does therefore seem like something of a missed opportunity that more consumer tech manufacturers aren’t tapping into the accessibility benefits these new devices are offering.

Apple has led the way to a certain extent with a host of accessibility features offered to Made for iPhone compatible hearing aids, while the Live Listen feature on AirPods mean they can be used as makeshift hearing devices

This latest move by Amazon arguably goes a step further with its support for Cochlear implants likely to make a world of difference for users. Fingers crossed today’s news will prompt a flow of tech firms getting on board – how great would it be to see Cochlear audio streaming compatibility for Apple TV 4K (2022) or Chromecast with Google TV… or from any smart TV, really.

14 Feb 14:05

Amazon's Zoox is now operating its purpose-built autonomous taxi on public roads

by Steve Dent

Amazon-owned Zoox has started offering driverless robotaxi rides in California after receiving a testing permit from the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), the company announced. Unlike the autonomous vehicles from Cruise and Waymo, Zoox's vehicles are purpose built for driverless taxi rides, so they have no steering wheel or pedals.

On February 11th, shortly after receiving the permit, Zoox conducted the "first run of its employee shuttle service in Foster City, California, marking the first time in history a purpose-built autonomous robotaxi without traditional driving controls carried passengers on open public roads," it wrote in a press release.

To get to that point, the company completed what it called "rigorous" testing with the vehicles on private roads. It also ran its L3 test fleet (hybrid Toyota Highlanders with safety drivers) over a million autonomous miles on data-gathering missions in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Seattle. 

Zoox has been developing its unique vehicles since it launched nine years ago, and was acquired by Amazon in a $1.2 billion merger in the summer of 2020. Its robotaxis, introduced later that year, are relatively tiny at 3.63 meters (11.9 feet) long, have passenger bench seats that face each other, four-wheel steering and can drive in either direction. That makes them highly maneuverable, but they can also travel at speeds up to 75 MPH and run 16 hours on a charge thanks to the immense 133kWh battery packs. 

Zoox will now offer full-time employees robotaxi rides between its Foster City offices during business hours. "As the company continues to advance its progress and secure additional government clearances, it will expand its service to the general public," the company wrote. 

14 Feb 11:37

Microsoft’s next-gen Bing uses a ‘much more powerful’ language model than ChatGPT

by Igor Bonifacic

Microsoft's oft-forgotten search engine is about to get a new lease on life. As expected, the tech giant announced on Tuesday that it is partnering with OpenAI to enhance Bing with the company's AI technology. However, Microsoft also had a surprise up its sleeve: the next release of Bing will feature a new next-generation large language model the company claims is "much more powerful" than ChatGPT and designed specifically to excel at search. 

Underpinning the search engine is a new proprietary technology Microsoft is calling the Prometheus Model. Among the benefits of Prometheus are more relevant search results. Microsoft claims the model will also make using Bing safer and allow the company to update search results more quickly.    

A screenshot of Bing's new

The new Bing offers a chat function and an expanded search bar that allows you to input up to a thousand characters. In one demo Microsoft showed off during its event, Yusuf Mehdi, the company's consumer chief marketing officer, asked Bing to compare the most influential Mexican artists and their best-known paintings. Bing displayed its response in a new side panel that featured annotations and weblinks. Later, Mehdi asked the search engine to compare three pet vacuums while listing the pros and cons of each model. Mehdi said Bing could also help with questions where there might not be a precise answer. That said, in instances where Bing doesn't know the answer to a query, the search engine will still try to point you to useful information. Microsoft is also adding a button to allow users to share feedback on the search engine's new functionality. "I think of this as Search with your own personal helper," Mehdi said. 

The chat feature is there for when you want to use the generative capabilities of OpenAI's technology. For example, say you want to start planning a trip to Hawaii. You can ask Bing to create a five-day itinerary for you. In its response, the search engine will include links to accommodations, flights and things you can do on the islands. The new Bing is available to preview starting today. Microsoft says anyone can visit to try a few sample queries and sign up for the company's waitlist. "We’re going to scale the preview to millions in the coming weeks," Microsoft said. A mobile preview is coming soon as well. 

14 Feb 11:30

A Japanese conveyor-belt restaurant will use AI cameras to combat 'sushi terrorism'

by Kris Holt

wtf is wrong with kids these days

A viral video trend in Japan has got sushi conveyor-belt restaurants racing to prevent food tampering. One chain, Kura Sushi, said it will use artificial intelligence to look for "suspicious opening and closing of sushi plate covers," Nikkei Asia reported this week.

Kura Sushi plans to start upgrading existing cameras, which are used to track the dishes customers take from conveyor belts to determine their bill, by early March. If the system detects suspicious behavior, it will alert employees.

"We want to deploy our AI-operated cameras to monitor if customers put the sushi they picked up with their hands back on the plates,” a spokesman told CNN. “We are confident we will be able to upgrade the systems we already have in place to deal with these kind of behaviors.”

Many folks in Japan have been outraged by a trend dubbed "sushi terrorism." Videos have shown people carrying out unhygienic acts, such as licking the spoon for a container of green tea powder. Other videos have shown patrons dumping wasabi onto sushi as it passes by on the conveyor belt.

Another video, which apparently has more than 98 million views on Twitter, showed a person licking the top of a soy sauce bottle and the rim of a teacup before putting them back at a branch of the Sushiro chain. They also licked a finger and touched a piece of passing sushi. The clip and the response to it caused the stock of Sushiro's parent company to drop almost five percent.

Sushiro said it replaced all the soy sauce bottles and cleaned every cup at the affected restaurant. Like other conveyor-belt sushi chains, it's enacted other policies like only making food to order to deter tampering and assure hygiene-conscious customers that restaurants are clean.

Kura Sushi has used AI in other ways. In 2020, it emerged that the company was using an app that can grade tuna. At least at the time, Kura Sushi was buying most of its tuna from outside of Japan. The app was said to help it evaluate the quality of the cuts without having to travel in the midst of a pandemic.

09 Feb 11:55

The Last of Us developers, HBO creators on building the world around Joel and Ellie

by Jonathon Dornbush

The Last of Us revolves around the story of Joel and Ellie, but their story is a constantly moving one. From one location to the next, the pair learns how many parts of the United States have weathered the Cordyceps outbreak while coming into contact with survivors and their encampments, from those squatting in the ruins of major cities while others have built up new communities in suburban areas or even out in nature.

The world they, and players, explore can be a cruel and unforgiving one, but also a world filled with beauty and light amidst the struggle for survival. Players are met with two distinct but clear examples of how life has transformed in this post-pandemic world early in the adventure of The Last of Us Part I – the Boston Quarantine Zone and Bill’s Town. The dichotomy of these locations demonstrates the human and natural threats around every corner, as well as the bright spots of humanity struggling to survive in this world. With both locations recently featured on The Last of Us on HBO, as well as recently remade in The Last of Us Part I on PlayStation 5 console and available March 28 on PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store, let’s dive into what makes these locations so essential to Joel and Ellie’s journey, and how the HBO adaptation tackled Joel and Ellie’s viewpoint of the world around them.

Play Video The Last of Us developers, HBO creators on building the world around Joel and Ellie

Cruel world

On the note of viewpoint, when playing The Last of Us, despite wherever the adventure takes you or the characters you meet, the team endeavored to tell this story quite specifically.

“We gave ourselves this rule when we were making it, everything is either seen through Joel’s perspective or Ellie’s perspective, and that’s it, because we want you to spend a lot of time with them moving from space to space in real time and becoming them,” Naughty Dog Co-President Neil Druckmann said.

That perspective feeds into how players are introduced to and informed of The Last of Us’ world and characters. That’s not only true of how The Last of Us’ unforgettable opening communicates its emotional stakes, but also in how players are introduced to the post-outbreak landscape via Joel’s time in the Boston Quarantine Zone, a heavily militarized community overseen by FEDRA, where civilians are just trying to eek by in a harsh world.

“In The Last of Us, when nature takes over society again, we tried to bring out the beauty of natural lighting, and the tone and atmosphere of that,” Naughty Dog Art Director Erick Pangilinan said. “When we show the QZ, we take out all the plants. We take out all the natural life. You won’t see a lot of trees in the QZ, you won’t see a lot of grass. Everything is very sterile, everything is man-made, and you can see the misery of what’s happening in the QZ.”

“It’s very oppressive in the Boston QZ, and we want to express that right away with everything you see. As soon as you walk out onto the street, you see men with guns, fences up everywhere keeping you from walking anywhere other than where the government wants you to be,” Lead Cinematic Animator Bryant Wilson said.

The Naughty Dog team, both originally for The Last of Us’ debut in 2013, and for The Last of Us Part I remake, had to consider how first impressions could immediately communicate the tone and mood of the Boston QZ, and by proxy the way of life so many survivors were facing.

“That first street [in the QZ] does a lot of work creating that world they’re in. The people who are pulled out of their homes, and they’re being forced to take an infected test. When you play through that, you’re given the option to sit and watch it or just walk on by, and it’s not something that we force you to look at, and that’s on purpose,” Wilson said. “It’s a reality of this world.”

“The QZ is man trying to control other people, and how to maintain control over the world and over nature,” Pangilinan said. “A lot of the materials in the QZ are very angular and hard. We like to create that tension of how this oppressive organization is controlling day-to-day life.”

Evoking the tone of this portion of the world, and the difficult realities survivors face under the thumb of FEDRA, is conveyed through every artistic choice, every animation and moment the development team produces to bring the post-pandemic world to life.

“The lighting in that area is very bluish and very overcast. We like to create this atmosphere like you’re in a prison… in the QZ, the people are very frustrated. We wanted to bring out their frustration, their hopelessness,” Pangilinan said. “And you can also see this in the marketplace where, when we tried to design it, we wanted to make sure that the place felt very desperate, very scarce, and people are selling rats and scrap metal because this is what they’ve got, and they’re trading things just to get by.”

The Boston QZ serves an important function in the context of The Last of Us’ story as the players’ introduction to the state of the world in this new era. When considering how to both preserve and refine that experience for The Last of Us Part I, the development team endeavored to bring the world to life with richer detail, but not for the sake of simply adding more.

“The first thing we always do is ask, ‘What was the original intent of this scene,’” like, for example, the QZ marketplace. It’s so easy to just clutter that with goods,” Pangilinan said. “But, in fact, the goal of that scene was to show the scarcity of living in the QZ and how desperate people were. It was important to show what they were eating or what they were selling, and how the whole thing is set up, where everything is just made to pack up and run once they get caught.”

A refinement and improvement of details, rather than a surplus of new ones, helped guide the team in ensuring the remake maintained the tone and emotional honesty of Part I’s original story.

“If there’s any animation that could be improved upon we would, but we didn’t want to add too much to it, mainly because we don’t want to ruin the feeling of the original,” Wilson explained. “Every animation in that sequence has been retouched, redone, reworked and improved, even in ways that may not be noticeable right away.”

HBO’s The Last of Us introduced viewers to the Boston QZ in its premiere, and, as Executive Producer Druckmann explained, offered one of the many opportunities to showcase TLOU’s world from multiple vantage points.

“With the show…we had this opportunity to unplug from our main characters and plug into these other characters,” he said. “You get to see Marlene talking with this new character, Kim, and we get to flesh [Marlene] out some more and see how she deals with the situation of being the leader of the Fireflies in a way that we didn’t get to see in the game. We heard about it offhandedly, but now we get to see the drama of what this character is wrestling with and the push and pull she’s feeling between different parts of her duty.”

“One of my favorite things was being able to walk out certain things about her life and her experiences that were only locked in my imagination,” Merle Dandridge, who plays Marlene both in the game and show, explained. “Obviously, we’d had a ton of conversations, we had imagined, dreamed and thought about who she was and where she had been. But some of these things that the audience is going to get to see are fresh to them in some ways butt still steeped in the truth of who she is and where she came from.”

Even with familiar locations like Marlene and the QZ, the HBO series finds new ground to examine the world of The Last of Us through a new lens. And that idea is particularly true of another environment game fans will be familiar with.

Beauty in the danger

Compared to the sharp-edged buildings, nature-less city streets, and gloomy palette of the QZ, Bill’s Town as seen in The Last of Us Part I is a breath of fresh air, albeit one with danger still lurking in the brush. An abandoned Massachusetts town, the titular Bill has, essentially, created an intricate maze of traps and alarms to keep himself safe in an area largely devoid of human life, but filled with the potential danger of the Infected.

But even with that looming threat, Bill’s Town is an opportunity for players to see the world of The Last of Us come alive – beautiful natural light drenches abandoned homes overgrown with natural flora.

“This is the world that one guy has been curating, and it gives the player a little bit of time to breathe, to look at this beautiful area,” Wilson explained. “This is what freedom looks like now. It’s dangerous, but it has this beauty to it, where the natural world has come back and overtaken it.”

“Bill’s Town has its own isolationist feeling, it’s a person’s castle and it’s his domain. He controls what he lets in and out. And nature is one of those things that can go in and out of it. So we wanted to create Bill’s Town in a warm setting, with the sunset shining through nature and the buildings,” Pangilinan said. “It creates this different aesthetic to contrast where you just came from, the tunnels and the sewer, which is very dark and dangerous.”

But just like with any decision about the artistic ambitions for a given portion of The Last of Us, the world around the player reflects back on the story and characters at the heart of it.

“In Bill’s Town, he lets nature takes it course, but he also has built this into his sort of small QZ. And we wanted to create this mixture of how nature and man balances out,” Pangilinan said. “But Bill’s Town is also representative of Joel. It’s representative of his psyche and his isolationist and paranoid side of his personality. That’s why we represent it with, with walls, with traps, a lot of things that trigger and, and fights back and pushes back so that they can be on their own.

Of course, as those who have watched The Last of Us on HBO’s third episode will know, Bill’s Town is still depicted, in essence, as Bill’s personal fortress, but the way viewers experience it is quite different from the game. Rather than via Joel and Ellie’s perspective, the show flashes back to let us watch Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett) fall in love and live out their lives. It changes the experience of how fans learn of this corner of the world, but it retains the characters and pathos in a format that better suits its new medium.

“Bill’s Town is an interesting one because that section was great in the game, but it’s very much a great encounter. You go to this interesting place that is an environmental change from the QZ that you’re in. It’s a small Massachusetts town. You meet a guy who’s funny and cranky and weird, and then there’s gameplay,” Executive Producer Craig Mazin explained of the shift in direction for the show.

“There’s a philosophical argument between these two characters of Bill and Frank that was touched on in the game and is really expanded on in the show, which is, yes, you could survive but to what end,”  Druckmann said. “That’s where these two philosophies are presented, where Bill’s position is, ‘That is the end. The end is survival.’ And then Frank is like, ‘No, there’s more to life than this.’ In the game, they have a falling out, and Frank leaves. And in [Craig’s and my] conversations, we thought it could be interesting to show the opposite of that in the show.”

“I thought there’s another way of thinking about this [section of the game and its message], which is that Joel and Ellie are two people that love in different ways,” Mazin explained. “And there’s a good argument to be made that you need both kinds of people, people who love outwardly and then people whose love is protective, both of which can get you into trouble, and that there was an interesting opportunity to just expand the Bill and Frank storyline to tell a story that we didn’t see [in the game].”

The depictions of this portion of The Last of Us diverge, giving fans of the game something entirely new to experience in the episode, while those introduced to Bill and Frank in the show can come to understand their corner of the world in a different way by playing the game. But they’re all rooted in the same desire to bring forth these memorable characters, what their stories mean, and how these relationships impact their lives. And it’s an alternative take that Druckmann welcomed when Mazin presented it, especially as it allowed the show to showcase more perspectives of the world beyond Joel and Ellie while still reverberating through to their story.

“I was terrified when I sent it to Neil because… talk about wandering off the path, and he loved it. I mean he was just like, ‘This is my favorite one so far,’” Mazin said. “Which is a testament to… how much space he created for me to play around and think of some new things.”

“The tragedy of that episode is the note that Bill leaves Joel, which is to say, ‘This is your job. This is what you have to do with Tess,’ and Joel gets that message too late, and that’s when that shift happens,” Druckmann said. He’s like, ‘Well, it was too late for Tess. Maybe it’s not too late for this kid,’ and that’s the mental shift he makes at the end of that episode. Without saying it, that whole Bill and Frank episode reflects back onto them and makes you understand this significant choice that Joel is making at that point.”

And for Druckmann, it was all about adapting the story the Naughty Dog team had worked on in a way that best fit its new medium. In doing so, he hopes it’s an experience that can impact playing The Last of Us for those who have watched it.

“There’s no core [gameplay] loops in a TV show other than viewers sit there, watch and enjoy it. But the drama has to be elevated because of that,” Druckmann explained. So, that allowed us to, in some ways, enrich the world and the characters, and I’ve now heard from a couple of people that have watched the whole show and went back to play the game, and they said the game feels richer now having watched the show.”And whether you’ve already begun to, or are planning to jump back into the game, The Last of Us Part I is now available on PS5, and available for pre-purchase for PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store for release on March 28. For more on The Last of Us and its adaptation to TV, be sure to check out our deep-dive into The Last of Us’ unforgettable opening, and a breakdown of how Naughty Dog brought The Last of Us’ Clickers to life.