Fully Charged: No more paid mods on Steam, and an International Space Station laser gun?

Load up on quick-hit tech news bits in our afternoon roundup

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Valve removes paid mods from Steam

Last week, leading PC digital distribution service Steam made a huge change in policy: it allowed users to start making money from their modifications of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, including levels and weapons and such. Mods are traditionally free content, so the idea of paying people for their effort was naturally alien to many fans.

Gamers, often known for being very vocal about their dislikes, rebelled hard against the change, amassing 130,000+ signatures on a petition and flooding social media with their invective. And just like that Valve changed course, removing the feature from the marketplace, refunding any money spent, and chastising itself for good measure.

“Stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the right place to start iterating,” reads the post from Valve’s Alden Kroll. “We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there's a useful feature somewhere here.”

[Source: Steam]

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A laser for the International Space Station?

International Space Station

If there’s one thing that scientists hate, it’s space debris mucking up their best-laid plans amongst the stars - so they’ve put their brilliant minds to work on a new plan to solve that problem. And it involves lasers, as most of the best ideas do.

According to The Independent, researchers at Japan’s Riken Institute have proposed fitting the International Space Station (ISS) with a laser to blast away dangerous space debris. The idea is that the current Extreme Universe Space Observatory (EUSO) telescope could work in concert with a laser to spot and eliminate threats, but it all sounds very science fiction for now. We’re eager to see if it becomes science fact before long.

[Source: The Independent]

Minecraft gets a female lead


The “hero” in Minecraft is known as Steve, but the game is a massive worldwide sensation with more than 50 million players - a large chunk of whom aren’t men (or boys). So Mojang will finally issue a skin for a new default female character named Alex this Wednesday on consoles.

“Jolly old Steve doesn’t really represent the diversity of our playerbase. For that reason, we’re giving all players opportunity to play with an Alex skin instead. She brings thinner arms, redder hair, and a ponytail,” says Mojang’s Owen Hill. Good on them for the update.

[Source: Mojang]