TIME Video Games

Minecraft Is Getting a Story Mode

Minecraft
Young racegoers play in a Minecraft tournament during Ascot Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup and Concert at Ascot Racecourse on August 9, 2014 in Ascot, England. Miles Willis—2014 Getty Images

It's a big change for a normally open-ended game

This article was originally published on the Daily Dot.

The developer of Minecraft has partnered with another high-profile company on a major expansion to the popular online game.

Telltale Games on Thursday announced the development of Minecraft: Story Mode. Minecraft developer Mojang presented the news through a mini-game called Info Quest II.

Telltale is tapping into a game that is already rich in non-traditional narrative. Minecraft is about making your own stories—as in literally constructing them from the raw materials given to you by a world seed. The slew of popular Minecraft “Let’s Play” videos are all player-created stories; “Let’s Play” live-streams construct the story right before the viewer’s eyes.

Read the rest of the story from our partners at the Daily Dot.

TIME intelligence

White House Doesn’t Rule Out Cyber Counterattack in Sony Hack

Calls it a "serious national security matter"

The White House is treating the massive hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment as a “serious national security matter” and is currently devising a “proportional response” to the cyberattack, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday.

Earnest said there have been a number of daily meetings at the White House about the hack, and that there are “a range of options that are under consideration right now” for a response. Earnest would not rule out a U.S. cyber counterattack on those behind the Sony hack, saying officials are mindful of the need for a “proportional response.”

“This is something that’s being treated as a serious national security matter,” he said. “There is evidence to indicate that we have seen destructive activity with malicious intent that was initiated by a sophisticated actor.”

Read more: Everything we know about Sony, The Interview and North Korea

Earnest would not publicly name the “sophisticated actor” behind the attack, even as U.S. officials have linked North Korea to the hack—something Pyongyang has denied. “I’m not in a position to confirm any attribution at this point,” Earnest said.

The incident remains under investigation by the Federal Bureau Investigation and the National Security Division of the Department of Justice, and Earnest said those efforts are “progressing.” Earnest said it’s unlikely officials will be able to fully disclose the eventual response. “I don’t anticipate that we’ll be in a position where we’re gonna be able to be completely forthcoming about every single element of the response that has been decided upon,” he said.

Asked about Sony’s decision to pull the film The Interview from distribution in response to threats of 9/11-style attacks from hackers, Earnest said: “The White House stands squarely on the side of artists and other private citizens who want to freely express their views.”

Read more: You can’t see The Interview, but TIME’s movie critic did

“This is a decision that Sony should make,” Earnest added. “This is a private company.”

The hack exposed reams of employees’ data and embarrassing email exchanges between executives. It came as Sony was preparing to release The Interview, which has been fiercely criticized by North Korea for depicting a fictional assassination attempt of the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un. With a growing number of movie theaters saying they wouldn’t screen the film amid the threads of attack, Sony canceled its release late Wednesday.

“Administration officials were consulted about the film prior to its release at the request of the company that was producing the movie,” Earnest said, confirming that officials had screened the film.

TIME Nintendo

Duck Hunt Will Land On Nintendo’s Wii U on Christmas Day

Duck Hunt
Duck Hunt Nintendo

No plastic gun this time

Nintendo has a retro Christmas gift in store for people who own its Wii U console.

Duck Hunt, the legendary fowl-hunting, gun-slinging game originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985, is coming to Nintendo’s newest console on Dec. 25. The game will be downloadable on the Wii U’s virtual console, which brings classic Nintendo titles to the system.

The Wii U version of Duck Hunt replaces Nintendo’s classic light gun accessory with the Wii Remote, which players use to shoot birds or clay pigeons bouncing around their screen.

“Test your sharp-shooting skills as your targets take flight in this legendary NES classic,” reads Nintendo’s press release. “Be quick to knock them out of the skies, or your canine companion won’t hesitate to make you the laughing stock of hunters.”

TIME Security

4 Things Every Single Person Can Learn From the Sony Hack

Most importantly: Never email your passwords

The massive cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment that resulted in thousands of employees’ emails and personal data being posted online may have been the work of expert hackers with North Korean support—but that doesn’t mean we can’t all learn something from the incident.

Reporting around the Sony hack revealed the company and its employees did little to keep passwords and other sensitive data secure. Here are four things we can all learn about data security from the Sony hack.

Never open suspicious links

While some reports suggest the Sony hackers had inside help, it’s just as likely they accessed Sony’s systems after a hapless employee clicked a suspicious link in what’s called a “phishing” email. Those emails increasingly target specific employees with very personal messages that make it look like they’re from somebody you trust, but clicking the links they contain can result in malware hitting your computer, infecting your company’s network and leaving it vulnerable.

Learn more about phishing emails and how to detect them on this helpful Microsoft site.

Don’t email your passwords

Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton’s assistants emailed him unencrypted reminders of his passwords for email, banking and online shopping accounts, according to the Associated Press. How does the AP know that? Because those emails were leaked by the Sony hackers along with troves of other data, exposing Lynton to a serious personal security problem. All a hacker with Lynton’s emails had to do was search the cache for “password,” and voila, tons of access credentials.

If you have to communicate passwords with family members or coworkers, the safest solution is a secure password manager like 1Password or LastPass.

Encrypt your most sensitive data

Every business has sensitive files, like contracts or employees’ medical information. Encryption basically makes files look like a jumbled mess to anyone who doesn’t have the right decoding software, meaning it would have made it much harder for hackers and journalists to get anything useful from Sony’s documents.

Most people don’t go the extra mile and encrypt their private files, but the Sony hack shows we really ought to do that. Lifehacker has a good list of encryption tools here, though top tech companies have increasingly been making encryption the default, especially on mobile devices.

Make sure you’ve got an ace security team

This tip is more for corporate executives than rank-and-file employees, but it’s crucial that your company’s IT team is up to snuff. Sony Pictures CFO David C. Hendler complained about the company’s poor security policies as recently as October, according to emails leaked in the hack. The Sony hack would have caught many companies flat-footed, but having better security and IT practices might have helped Sony ward off the worst of it—and rebuilding after a hack is far harder and costlier than deflecting one to begin with.

TIME legal

We Won’t See That Last Steve Jobs Video After All

Steve Jobs Introduces iCloud Storage System At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference
Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivers the keynote address at the 2011 Apple World Wide Developers Conference at the Moscone Center on June 6, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Judge denies media's request to copy and air the footage

The judge presiding over an antitrust lawsuit against Apple has denied media outlets’ request to release a deposition from Steve Jobs recorded six months before the Apple founder succumbed to cancer in 2011. The video is among the last times Jobs appeared on film before his death.

District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that the public already had sufficient access to the footage, which was played in the courtroom and transcribed for the public record. Enabling media outlets to copy and distribute the tape could infringe on the privacy rights of the defendant, Rogers ruled, adding that misuses of the tape could have a chilling effect on future depositions.

“If releases of video depositions routinely occurred,” she wrote, “witnesses might be reticent to submit voluntarily to video depositions in the future, knowing they might one day be publicly broadcast.”

TIME Crime

Uber Driver Accused of Raping Passenger in Boston

The alleged rape comes as Uber navigates intense scrutiny at home and abroad

An Uber driver in Boston was charged with kidnapping and raping a customer of the ride-sharing service, in another potentially damaging case for the rapidly expanding company.

Alejandro Done, 46, allegedly drove a woman he picked up to a secluded area and then assaulted her in the back seat earlier this month. He pleaded not guilty at an arraignment on Wednesday, the Boston Globe reports.

Uber says Done had passed a background check. “This is a despicable crime and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim during her recovery,” Uber spokesperson Kaitlin Durkosh said in a statement to CBS Boston. “Uber has been working closely with law enforcement and will continue to do everything we can to assist their investigation.”

The ride-sharing company is coming under increasing scrutiny in the U.S. and abroad over regulatory and safety concerns as it expands to more than 50 countries. Several countries have moved to outlaw Uber services, and New Delhi banned Uber earlier this month days after a female passenger accused her Uber driver of rape.

The ride-sharing service said yesterday that it was boosting safety measures and revamping its background checks abroad.

[The Boston Globe]

TIME Media

You Can Visit The Colbert Report’s Set on Google Maps

Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert hosts Comedy Central's "Indecision 2008: America's Choice" at Comedy Central Studios on November 4, 2008 in New York City. Brad Barket—Getty Images

Check out the set on Street View

Even though The Colbert Report is ending its run Thursday, the show’s set will live on through Google Maps.

The entire iconic stage is rendered in 3D through Google’s service (though sadly, Colbert himself isn’t present). You can get a close-up look at some of the show’s famous gags, like the portrait of Stephen Colbert standing in front of a portrait of Stephen Colbert standing in front of a portrait of Stephen Colbert.

There are also plenty of goodies on Colbert’s bookshelf that you may have never noticed before, like a Captain America shield, a Rock’em Sock’em Robots game and a solemn photograph of Hugh Laurie.

Check out the set in all its glory here.

TIME podcasts

7 Great Podcasts To Get Hooked On Now That Serial’s Over

Sarah Koenig
Sarah Koenig, host and executive producer of Serial Meredith Heuer

Serial is over (for now)—but there’s no reason to kick your addiction to downloadable stories.

Anyone who’s ever heard a public radio pledge drive knows that a “driveway moment” is when the show you’re listening to is so good, you’ll sit parked in your car until it’s over. Now, with great podcasts flooding the digital airwaves, downloadable stories have spread “driveway moments” all over the world — to gyms, subways, kitchens, and, well, more driveways.

Serial, the weekly podcast that explored the murder of a young Baltimore woman, was the most recent show to capture everyone’s ears. The last episode of Serial’s first season dropped Thursday, but there are a lot of other great podcasts worth a listen.

Here are seven podcasts to tide Serial fans over until the show returns for a second season:

Slate’s Serial Spoilers

Can’t get enough of Serial? Neither could the folks at Slate Magazine, who created a complimentary podcast to discuss and dissect the details of each week’s episode. Designed to be listened to following the corresponding episode of Serial, this show is also weekly, and features hosts David Haglund and Katy Waldman nit-picking over the case’s finer points, as well as how Serial’s producer Sarah Koenig has crafted the narrative. (Warning: Spoilers, obviously).

Welcome to Night Vale

Part Twilight Zone part A Prairie Home Companion, this fictional, bi-weekly podcast takes the form of radio broadcasts to the Southwestern desert town of Night Vale, where eerie (and often humorous) occurrences pop up all the time. Performed by a central narrator (or news reporter) named Cecil, the show has periodic guest voices, winding, recurring storylines, and — even better, for new listeners — almost 60 episodes under its belt (and counting) to binge on before you get throttled by its first and 15th of the month broadcast schedule.

Criminal

Digging deep into the areas where the law doesn’t dare tread, this podcast talks to everyone from cooks to coroners in its pursuit of the story. From tales of the mysterious — like the Venus flytrap kidnapping ring — to cold-blooded drive-by shootings, these episodes, which last around 20 minutes each, will keep you on the edge of your seat, while locking you in with masterful, expert-level audio production. It’s true crime at its finest.

Thrilling Adventure Hour

This highly entertaining, live recorded podcast evokes the golden age of radio through a variety of segments, including fictional ads, one-off sketches and periodic updates from recurring stories, like the tales of diva detective Desdemona Hughes, the campy adventures of Captain Laserbeam, and the story of a time-traveling Amelia Earhart who faked her death.

Packed with cameos by voices you’d no doubt recognize, like Joe Mantegna, Neil Patrick Harris, and Alison Brie, it’s a great way to see (well, listen to) your favorite actors in a whole new light. But get it while you can — sadly, after 10 years of monthly shows, the Thrilling Adventure Hour will be ending in April 2015.

Here Be Monsters

Unpredictable, dark, and absolutely enthralling, this podcast sets out to explore the unknown and does so with a great staff of radio producers from literally all over the world (one even lives in Antarctica). In its most popular episode, the show follows a woman who, in the wake of losing her daughter, seeks alternative treatment for her extreme grief by taking highly powerful hallucinogens that can only be found in the Amazon rainforest. Other episodes are also strange trips, from explorations of white supremacist churches to covering the ways that crows mourn their dead, they take listeners down unexpected avenues, to places where they’d never venture otherwise.

This American Life

Arguably the radio show that launched the entire genre of podcasts, this public radio show launched Serial as a spin-off, but had considerable success on its own for more than 15 years. In that time, it’s put out more than 500 episodes and given the world fantastic stories by Ira Glass (the show’s host), David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, Mike Birbiglia, Jon Ronson, and others. Its top-notch audio production has been aped by many podcasts since, but none have ever matched its popularity. In fact, while weekly episodes of This American Life are available for download, past episodes can be accessed through the show’s official app, something few other podcasts can boast.

How Did This Get Made?

A bit off topic from the true crime and great story podcasts listed above, this weekly comedy download takes an up-close, highly-critical, and wickedly funny look at terrible flicks that Hollywood pumps out, and rips them to hilarious shreds. Hosted by Paul Scheer and packed full of guests like Adam Scott, Dan Harmon, and Amy Schumer, the host and guests dissect films like Pamela Anderson’s Barb Wire, Miley Cyrus’s LOL, and even Sylvester Stallone’s classic, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. And since there’s no stopping the movie industry from making bombs like these, you can’t expect this podcast, soon to be in its fifth year, to quit any time soon.

Read next: Everything We Know as Serial’s Season One Ends

TIME Security

Everything We Know About Sony, The Interview and North Korea

What we know, what we don't know, and how a movie got pulled

Sony Pictures Entertainment said late Wednesday that it’s pulling The Interview, a comedy about two journalists tasked with killing North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un. Sony’s move came a day after a cryptic message appeared online threatening attacks against theaters that played the film, and several weeks after hackers first breached Sony’s system and posted troves of private emails and other data online.

Shortly after Sony decided to scrub The Interview, a U.S. official confirmed to TIME that American intelligence officials have determined North Korea was behind the Sony hack, though no evidence has been disclosed.

Here’s everything we know for sure about the Sony hack, up until now.

What happened?

On Nov. 24, Sony employees came to work in Culver City, Calif., to find images of grinning red skulls on computer screens. The hackers identified themselves as #GOP, or the Guardians of Peace. They made off with a vast amount of data (reports suggest up to 100 terabytes), wiped company hard drives and began dumping sensitive documents on the Internet.

Among the sensitive information the hackers divulged: salary and personnel records for tens of thousands of employees as well as Hollywood stars; embarrassing email traffic between executives and movie moguls; and several of the studio’s unreleased feature films. More is likely to come, as Sony Pictures Co-Chair Amy Pascal said the hackers got away with every employees’ emails “from the last 10 years.”

MORE: The 7 most outrageous things we learned from the Sony hack

And the attack has already affected other companies: Secret acquisitions by photo-sharing app Snapchat, for instance, have been made public thanks to leaked emails from Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton, who sits on Snapchat’s board.

Who did it?

That’s the million-dollar question. For a few reasons, suspicion has zeroed in on the North Korean government or a band of allied hacktivists. The hermit kingdom is apoplectic over The Interview, in which Seth Rogen and James Franco play journalists who land a face-to-face with Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, only to be asked by the CIA to assassinate the reclusive leader. The comedy features graphic footage of the dictator’s death, which didn’t go over well in a country built on a hereditary personality cult.

From a forensic perspective, the hack had hallmarks of North Korean influence. The attackers breached Sony’s network with malware that had been compiled on a Korean-language computer. And the effort bore similarities to attacks by a hacking group with suspected ties to North Korea that has carried out attacks on South Korean targets, including a breach of South Korean banks in 2013. That group, which is alternately known in the cybersecurity community as DarkSeoul (after its frequent target) or Silent Chollima (after a mythical winged horse), often uses spear-phishing—a cyber-attack that targets a specific vulnerable user or department on a larger network.

MORE: U.S. sees North Korea as culprit in Sony attack

That does not necessarily mean the North Korean government, or even the same hacker collective, is responsible. In the world of cyberwarfare, hackers will often dissect and imitate successful techniques.

Even the clues that point toward Pyongyang could be diversions to deflect investigators. For example, the perpetrators could’ve manipulated the code or set the computer language to throw suspicion on a convenient culprit. Pyongyang has denied involvement.

Why did Sony scrub The Interview?

People who may or may not have been tied to the hackers posted a vague message Tuesday threatening 9/11-style attacks against theaters that chose to play the film. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said there wasn’t any evidence of a credible threat against American movie theaters, but several major chains, including AMC and Regal, decided to play it safe—all told, chains that control about half of the country’s movie screens decided against playing The Interview. Sony then followed suit, pulling the movie entirely.

Were theaters really in danger?

It’s tough to say for sure. North Korea has made lots of bloviating threats toward the U.S. before, so anything that comes out of Pyongyang should be taken with a grain of salt. But again, no concrete proof has been made public yet that these attacks or the threat came from North Korea—or even that they came from the same person or group.

Will we ever get to see The Interview?

Probably. The movie cost about $44 million to make, according to documents leaked by the hackers. The ad campaign so far has cost tens of millions on top of that, although Sony has pulled the plug on further TV spots. A total loss on that investment would be a tough pill for Sony to swallow.

MORE: You can’t see The Interview, but TIME’s movie critic did

What will most likely happen is some limited release in the future when everything calms down, perhaps bypassing theaters and going right to Blu-Ray/DVD and on-demand services. There’s also a chance Sony could release the film online. That would eliminate pretty much any safety risk to viewers, but could further enrage whoever hacked Sony—assuming they actually care about The Interview and it’s not just a red herring. It would also let Sony capitalize on all the sudden interest in the film generated by the hack and threats. Don’t expect to see it soon: Sony said late Wednesday it’s not planning any kind of release. But it could, of course, be leaked online.

In an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, President Barack Obama called the hack against Sony “very serious,” but suggested authorities have yet to find any credibility in the threat of attacks against theaters.

“For now, my recommendation would be that people go to the movies,” Obama said.

How did the hackers do it?

We don’t know exactly. Cyber-security experts say the initial breach could have occurred through a simple phishing or spearfishing attempt, in which the hackers find a soft spot in the company’s network defenses. That can be a coding error or an employee who clicks on an infected link. These breaches occur all the time. FireEye, the parent company of the cybersecurity firm Sony hired to probe the hack, studied the network security of more than 1,200 banks, government agencies and manufacturers over a six-month period ending in 2014, and found that 97% had their last line of defense breached at some point by hackers.

“Breaches are inevitable,” says Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike. “But that just means they’ve gotten in the door. It doesn’t mean they’ll be able to walk out with the crown jewels or set fire to the building.”

Once inside, hackers will try to gain elevated security privileges to spread across the network. What made the Sony hack different was the fact that it wasn’t detected until large quantities of data had been swiped. And what stood out, several analysts say, was not the sophistication of the breach but the havoc the culprits sought to wreak. “The attack was very targeted, very well thought out,” says Mike Fey of the network-security firm Blue Coat Systems, who believes the hackers “planned and orchestrated” the attack for months.

What are investigators doing to find out who’s responsible?

Sony has brought in experts at Mandiant, a top security firm, to lead the probe of the hack. Their investigation, outside security experts say, will be similar in some ways to the forensic analysis that follow a murder: studying data logs, reviewing network communications, poring over code, matching clues to potential motives. It may involve probing bulletin boards on the Dark Web, where hackers sometimes go to seek advice on technical troubles.

“There’s a lot of detective work you can do,” says former Department of Justice cybercrime prosecutor Mark Rasch. “Are they native English speakers? What programming language do they use? The code will have styles, signatures and tells.”

And investigators are tracking the IP addresses from which the attack was launched, which in the case of the Sony hack included infected computers in locations ranging from Thailand to Italy.

What happens if it was North Korea?

It’s tough to say. It’s unprecedented for a state actor to conduct a cyberattack of this scale against a U.S. corporation. If that turns out to be the case, however the U.S. decides to respond will set the tone for a whole new kind of cyberwar.

Could the Sony hack happen to other companies?

It’s increasingly likely. Sony is unusual in large part because the attackers appear to have been driven by a desire to cause destruction, rather than financial motives. And the strange geopolitical overtones of the hack add a dollop of intrigue. “It’s a milestone because it’s such a large-scale destructive attack that is rooted in this bizarre political messaging,” says security researcher Kurt Baumgartner of Kaspersky Lab.

But cyber-warfare is a growing threat for which most companies are ill-prepared. Joseph Demarest, assistant director in the FBI’s cyber division, testified to a Senate panel earlier this month that the malware used in the Sony hack “probably [would have] gotten past 90% of the net defenses that are out there today in private industry.” Banks and government agencies tend to have better security, but in recent months major retailers like Target and Home Depot have been hit. When targeted by competent and persistent hackers, corporate defenses will often be outmatched. “This is a great wakeup call,” says Kevin Haley, a director at Symantec Security Response. “We need to get better at securing our organizations.”

-Additional reporting by Sam Frizell

Read next: You Can’t See ‘The Interview,’ but I Did

TIME intelligence

U.S. Sees North Korea as Culprit in Sony Hack

Fallout prompted studio to pull The Interview

American officials have determined the government of North Korea is connected to the hack that left Sony Entertainment Pictures reeling and eventually prompted it to pull a movie critical of the country’s leader, a U.S. official confirmed Wednesday.

Much remains unclear about the nature of North Korea’s involvement. The country, while lauding the hack against Sony, has denied being behind it. There were conflicting reports Wednesday evening, and officials are expected to unveil their findings Thursday. But the U.S. official confirmed to TIME that intelligence officials have indeed determined North Korea was behind the hack, one of the worst cyberattacks ever against an American company.

The New York Times, citing senior Obama Administration officials, reported that intelligence officials have determined North Korea was “centrally involved.” NBC News, also citing unnamed U.S. officials, reported that the Americans believe the hacking came from outside North Korea itself, but that the hackers were acting on orders from Pyongyang.

MORE: The 7 most outrageous things we learned from the Sony hack

The hack exposed reams of company data, including employees’ emails and salaries. A group calling itself the Guardians of Peace claimed credit. And analysts have speculated North Korea was behind an attack that came before the scheduled release of The Interview, a Sony movie that depicts American journalists enlisted by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (North Korean officials have criticized the movie.) Threats of 9/11-style attacks against theaters that show the movie led many theaters to say this week that they wouldn’t screen it, which prompted Sony to cancel the scheduled Christmas Day release altogether.

“We are deeply saddened by this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees and the American public,” Sony said in a statement. “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

In an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, President Barack Obama called the hack against Sony “very serious,” but suggested authorities have yet to find any credibility in the threat of attacks against theaters.

“For now, my recommendation would be that people go to the movies,” Obama said.

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