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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) raised the threshold for a positive test for marijuana from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 nanograms per milliliter, significantly reducing the likelihood of detection for athletes who use the drug.
“We wanted to focus on the athletes that abuse the substance in competition,” said Julie Masse, WADA’s director of communications. “This should exclude cases where marijuana is not used in competition.”
Although marijuana is not considered a performance-enhancing drug, WADA included it on its initial list of prohibited substances in 2003 after caving in to pressure from U.S. sports officials.
“From a sports perspective, I was rather ambivalent (toward marijuana),” stated Richard Pound, an attorney who was WADA’s initial chief and still serves on the Foundation Board. “As we morphed into WADA, the USA was very keen to have it included.”
Although marijuana thresholds and testing are vague indicatives rather than precise measurements of use, WADA hopes that the new limit will lessen the chance that responsible recreational users will suffer disciplinary action. In recent years, a number of athletes, some of them legitimate medical marijuana patients, have faced suspensions and huge fines failing post-competition marijuana tests.
“There is no desire to go soft on the list,” WADA’s Athlete Committee announced, “but members want cheaters to be caught for cheating, not for recreational usage.”
Eador: Masters of the Broken World is too difficult to enjoy. Even on the easiest setting, it does everything it can to keep you from making progress. Whereas some games lay honest challenges and let you learn your way through them, Masters of the Broken World offers false information that’s difficult to plan around. It gives you the option to tinker with systems you can’t understand until the game offers a half-baked explanation. To make it worse, it’s so unstable that bugs and hard crashes frequently cut your adventures short, as if the game weren’t already oppressive enough.
The first thing you notice about Masters of the Broken World is the overwhelming number of buttons, as colorful and varied as a candy shop. This is a hardcore turn-based role-playing game with base management, provinces to capture, stats to improve, and a slew of things to always be concerned with. It’s overwhelming in an intense, classic PC game sort of way, and at its best it’s a gripping brain twister with high stakes and high rewards. The various worlds you must conquer are called “shards,” and each offers unique benefits that help you as you attack the next one. You are a god who manipulates mortal heroes to do your bidding and claim lands, which is a neat way for a game to justify its genre through fiction.
Combat takes place on a grid of hexagonal spaces. Various infantry units join your hero, who belongs to a powerful fantasy-standard class like a warrior or a mage. Before combat, you see how many and what type of foes to expect, and the game offers a battle prediction. This pre-combat assessment couldn’t feel less accurate, which is a huge problem because it’s often the deciding factor for whether you initiate a fight, negotiate, or retreat. Not only can the enemy outnumber your party, but nearly all of its soldiers might outlevel yours by five times. Yet the game might predict that “the enemy will be destroyed,” displayed in reassuring green type. This is bad information. Lost troops are gone forever once a battle is over, so the cost of a party wipe is staggering. New fighters must be purchased and trained again, which takes time and feels like a grind.
When forces are evenly matched, combat is a wonderful game of resource and land management. Moving a character forward to a hill offers range benefits, but it might be more useful to send weak units into a forest patch for defensive bonuses. Magic isn’t based on mana, but on a limited number of uses. This means you can’t just nuke everything in sight to win. You need to move units out of hit zones. You need to be concerned with draining enemy stamina. It feels like a deep board game, but with particle effects.
Sadly, the game frequently stops working. A few hiccups could be tolerated in a game with so many systems running simultaneously, but Masters of the Broken World is, well, utterly broken. Everything from combat to movement to construction happens as part of a chain of actions. When you finish queuing tasks, you hit the execute button, and the game jumps into motion… sometimes. More times than you would want, the execute button, as well as the entire bottom row, simply fails to work. When this happens in combat, the only options are to quit the game and lose progress or activate auto-battle mode, which rarely ends in your favor. Sometimes the weapon switch command doesn’t work. Sometimes your hero gets stuck in one province on the overworld map. And all too often, Masters of the Broken World just crashes completely.
There is satisfaction to be found in the game’s vast and deep strategy elements. Building up your city’s defenses and resource production rate helps you conquer other provinces and strongholds more quickly. Stationing guards can be an exciting gamble because the units can grow corrupt, stealing income or terrorizing townspeople. The problem is that you’re given access to features that you can’t understand because the game hasn’t yet taken the time to teach you. Granaries can be built in provinces, for example, and they give each sector a population boost. However, overpopulation can lead to unrest, which can lead to a rebellion. The game’s suggested counter is to build a guard outpost, which doesn’t work at all. Provinces inevitably fall, and you’re forced to battle and recapture areas you used to own. This isn’t fun, and doing work you’ve already done just to rectify something you don’t know how to fix is aggravating in all the wrong ways.
A system of karma and random events breaks up the typical bribe/fight/conquer gameplay. Sometimes a horde of enemies might attack one of your provinces, and you have to decide whether it’s worth your time and resources to help defend it. If you leave your people to die, you naturally lose karma. You might be the kind of person to never accept bribes, but if someone is offering a lot of gold and you have your eye on an expensive new structure for your base, maybe you’ll accept. Unfortunately, karma doesn’t seem to have a substantial effect on anything you do. You’ll appreciate the distraction from the core game mechanics, but a distraction is really all it is.
Masters of the Broken World has a Hot Seat mode, which has two players taking turns in the chair in front of the computer as they battle each other. It’s a great idea, and it’s fun when it works, but it’s not immune to the bug problems found in the single-player campaign. There’s also an online mode, but finding a reliable match is a miracle. You might wait half an hour to play a single skirmish, only to have the connection fail before a game starts. When you could cook dinner in the time it takes to find an opponent, something is very wrong.
Any enjoyment derived from Eador: Masters of the Broken World is buried beneath a landslide of inexcusable technical issues. Building up a home base and expanding into the world should be rewarding, but frequent and unfair bugs make any progress feel less like victory and more like a stroke of good luck. Some serious patches could uncover the game buried beneath the flaws, but as of right now, playing Masters of the Broken World not worth the headache. In this high-fantasy world of trolls, archers, and the undead, it’s a shame that your most dreadful enemy is the game itself.
Matt Flynn’s Sydney-based Random Cow Pictures and Reliance MediaWorks Ltd. have announced they will partner on a new 3D animated theatrical feature, titled It’s a Dog’s World. The production will take place at Reliance’s Mumbai and Chennai Studios in India, with pre-production scheduled to begin this month.
The family action comedy will follow an eight-year-old autistic boy named Willie Welby who travels to a parallel universe where all dogs can talk. The script, written by Matt Flynn and Linda McKinley, promises “a magical world where danger—and comical characters—are around every corner.” Flynn will be directing the pic, with Edward Jarzobski of Panthera Film Finance and creator Kathy Tessalone—a former Hollywood make-up artist whose experience teaching special education inspired the project—executive producing. Thomas Sulka is co-producing.
“The story is fresh, funny, and tugs at your heartstrings. The audience will fall in love with Willie Welby and his colorful canine companions. We are all excited to be working with Reliance MediaWorks,” says Flynn.
Naresh Malik, President – Media & Creative Services of Reliance MediaWorks added, “Being an end-to-end service provider helps us offer our clients a one stop solution. It’s a Dog’s World will be an excellent showcase of everyone’s talents.”
Gas Powered Games has found economic refuge in the embrace of World of Tanks maker Wargaming, the companies announced today. The studio behind Dungeon Siege and Supreme Commander will be purchased by the rapidly expanding free-to-play firm for an undisclosed sum.
It’s the second Western studio acquisition in as many weeks for the Belarusian publisher, which bought out FEAR 3 and MechAssault developer Day 1 Studios for $ 20 million in January. Wargaming will absorb Gas Powered Games and bring on its remaining developers, including founder Chris Taylor.
“Wargaming’s growth in recent years has been tremendous, and we’re looking forward to joining one of the fastest growing gaming companies in the world,” Taylor said in a release from Wargaming.
It’s a quick resolution to Gas Powered Games’ woes; Taylor canceled the Wildman Kickstarter on Monday, saying fan interest gave the studio a second chance despite the failed campaign. The nearly 15-year-old studio will survive, albeit without its independence, which is more than anyone could say for sure just weeks ago.
CHICHEN ITZA, Mexico |
CHICHEN ITZA, Mexico (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of mystics, hippies and tourists celebrated in the shadow of ancient Maya pyramids in southeastern Mexico on Friday as the Earth survived a day billed by doomsday theorists as the end of the world.
New Age dreamers, alternative lifestyle gurus and curious onlookers from around the world descended on the ruins of Maya cities to mark the close of the 13th bak’tun – a period of around 400 years – in the Maya Long Calendar.
Dismissing a widely disseminated myth that the Maya had predicted some kind of apocalypse on December 21, 2012, they celebrated what they hope is the start of a new and better era for humanity.
After the sun rose in Mexico and the world continued to spin, the visitors to the Maya heartland gave thanks.
“It is a transformation, the dawning of the age of Aquarius,” said Jonah Bolt, 33, a radio show host from North Carolina who had brought a large quartz with him to “download” energy from the sacred spot.
“We hope that everyone’s intention and love and light focused on this day will just help awaken others to just a better way of living.”
The end of the 13th bak’tun in the 5,125-year-old Maya calendar had inspired pockets of fear around the world that the end was nigh or that lesser catastrophes lay in store.
A U.S. scholar said in the 1960s that the end of the 13th bak’tun could be seen as a kind of Armageddon for the Maya. Over time, the idea snowballed into a belief by some that the Maya calendar had predicted the Earth’s destruction.
Fears of mass suicides, huge power cuts, natural disasters, epidemics or an asteroid hurtling toward Earth had circulated on the Internet, especially in recent months.
In the end, there were no reports of natural or man-made catastrophes linked to the doomsday predictions.
To the people congregating in the imposing ruins of the city of Chichen Itza, a focal point for the celebrations in Mexico, it was a day for celebrations.
“It’s not the end of the world, it’s an awakening of consciousness and good and love and spirituality – and it’s been happening for a while,” said Mary Lou Anderson, 53, an information technology consultant from Las Vegas.
Around 50,000 people visited Mexico’s main archaeological sites by early afternoon, authorities said.
A few minutes before the north pole reached its position furthest from the sun on Friday, a spotlight illuminated the western flank of the Temple of the serpent god Kukulkan, a 100-foot-tall (30-meter) pyramid at the heart of Chichen Itza.
Then a group of five tourists dressed in white made their way across the plain, dropped their bags and faced the pyramid with their arms raised before park officials cleared them away.
As the sun climbed into the sky, a man with dreadlocks played a didgeridoo – an Australian wind instrument – at the north end of the pyramid. Nearby, groups of tourists meditated on brightly colored mats.
Visiting the Yucatan peninsula on Friday, new President Enrique Pena Nieto sought to harness the energy of renewal to give Mexico and its economy a boost.
“Today a cycle of the Mayan calendar closes, and some thought it meant a fatalistic end, but we and the Mayans are sure it’s the start of a new era,” he said. “May this spirit of renewal infect us all.”
In Turkey, thousands of tourists flocked to Sirince, a picturesque village east of the Aegean Sea that believers in a potential cataclysm had said would be spared on Friday.
At 1:11 p.m. local time (1111 GMT), visitors to Sirince gathered in the town square to await the return of Noah’s Ark on a nearby hill. They counted down from 10 and applauded when the vessel failed to appear and the world did not end.
In Bugarach, France, a village that was said to be harboring an alien spacecraft in a nearby mountain that would enable people to survive an apocalypse, authorities cordoned off the area, fearing an influx of doomsday believers. But on Friday journalists and partygoers outnumbered the survivalists.
Meanwhile in New York, Buck Wolf, executive editor of crime and weird news for the Huffington Post, organized an end of the world party at Manhattan’s Hotel Chantelle on Thursday night.
Wearing a gray T-shirt with a black Maya calendar on it, Wolf said he was inspired by a similar party he had attended in 1999 related to Nostradamus’s doomsday prophecies. “It’s all a big scam,” Wolf said. “You might as well throw a good party.”
In China, the United Nations issued a tweet on its official Weibo microblog denying it was selling tickets for an “ark” in which people could escape the apocalypse after such tickets were offered for sale online, albeit apparently as a joke.
Maya experts, scientists and even U.S. space agency NASA had insisted the Maya had not predicted the world’s end.
“Think of it like Y2K,” said James Fitzsimmons, a Maya expert at Middlebury College in Vermont, referring to the year 2000. “It’s the end of one cycle and the beginning of another cycle.”
Companies have also had fun with the date.
On Friday, the makers of Mini cars placed a full-page ad in the New York Times headlined, “Well, So Much For The 2014 Models.” It suggested customers hurry to their local dealership in case time was running out to buy the car.
The New Age optimism, stream-of-consciousness evocations of wonder and awe, and starry-eyed dreams of extra-terrestrial contact circulating on the ancient sites in Mexico this week have left many of the modern Maya bemused.
“It’s pure Hollywood,” said Luis Mis Rodriguez, 45, a Maya selling obsidian figurines and souvenirs shaped into knives like ones the Maya once used for human sacrifice.
The Maya civilization reached its peak between AD 250 and 900 when it ruled over large swaths of what is now southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras.
The Maya developed hieroglyphic writing, an advanced astronomical system and a sophisticated calendar that helped provide the foundation for the doomsday predictions.
The buzz surrounding the Maya “end of days” has generated massive traffic on the Internet, but the speculation stems from a long tradition of such prophecies.
Basing his calculations on prophetic readings of the Bible, the great scientist Isaac Newton once cited 2060 as a year when the planet would be destroyed.
U.S. preacher William Miller predicted that Jesus Christ would descend to Earth in October 1844 to purge mankind of its sins. When it did not happen, his followers, known as the Millerites, referred to the event as The Great Disappointment.
In 1997, 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult, believing the world was about to be “recycled,” committed suicide in San Diego in order to board an alien craft they said was trailing a comet.
More recently, American radio host Harold Camping predicted the world would end on May 21, 2011, later moving the date forward five months when the apocalypse failed to materialize.
Sporting a long gray beard, dark glasses and a cowboy-style jacket, Raja Merk Dove, a self-proclaimed “interplanetary ambassador” from Asheville, North Carolina, said he believes aliens helped the Maya build Chichen Itza, for centuries a major Mayan metropolis, trading hub and ceremonial center, and he is hoping they will drop by.
“I envision on a higher plane, or whatever our reality is, that extraterrestrials and their spaceships will come and land on top of the pyramid or wherever the landing site is, and that they will come and mingle with the people, bringing new information, new knowledge, new blessings,” he said.
“This is one of those dates. If humanity is ready for that, it can happen today. If humanity is not quite ready, it will happen at a future date.”
(Additional reporting by Ece Toksabay, Ben Blanchard, Morade Azzouz, Martin Howell, Peter Rudegeair, Jilian Mincer, Gabriel Stargardter, Bernd Debusmann Jr and David Alire Garcia; Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Kieran Murray, Simon Gardner and Eric Beech)
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