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PlayStationFirst opens Europe’s largest teaching lab at Abertay University

Abertay University has opened Europe’s largest teaching laboratory of Sony PlayStation consoles .

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PlayStation 4 Blue Light

The PlayStation lab has now permanently installed PlayStation Vita development kits alongside their existing PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 dev kits.

Every programming student at Abertay has access to the development kits as part of Abertay University’s partnership with PlayStationFirst, Sony’s Academic Development Programme. The programme offers development kits to universities identical to those used by professional game studios to create games for PlayStation.

Dr Maria Stukoff, Head of Academic Development at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, said: “The next generation of PlayStation-savvy developers are now in education and Abertay University is at the forefront of bringing young and talented developers to our platform.

“It is these students who will influence the future of video games and we are delighted to work with Abertay University to make this a PlayStation training hub.”

Professor Louis Natanson, Head of the School of Arts, Media and Computer Games at Abertay University, said: “Abertay is very proud to have the largest teaching laboratory of PlayStation consoles in Europe, and it’s something our students benefit hugely from.

“Having access to professional Sony development kits is incredibly exciting for students learning how to design and build games, and we’ve seen a real jump in the enthusiasm of our students since we created this lab.

“Students are routinely staying after class to work on their own projects, with many immediately aspiring to releasing their own games for PlayStation.”

All undergraduate students at Abertay University take part in a major third-year project to build a game, working with professional mentors. Student artists, designers, programmers and audio engineers are brought together, exactly as if they were running a small business.

As part of the PlayStation lab, two student teams totalling 22 people have been working with FuturLab co-founders James Marsden and Kirsty Rigden. One team is building on FuturLab’s successful Velocity series of games with another pitching a completely new idea to the company.

James Marsden, FuturLab co-founder, said: “We think this initiative is fantastic. It’s great for us because we’re able to effectively triple our workforce developing new prototypes, and it’s great for students because they get valuable experience working as a project team all the way from concept development and pitching, through to a playable demo suitable for pitching to a publisher.”

Thomas Garnerone, Abertay student game designer, said: “The PlayStation Vita is an interesting platform as it is a very powerful handheld game console. By combining regular buttons and new features such as the touch screen, the console offers a new gameplay experience to players.

“As a student in game design, I really like the fact that players can discover new ways to play video games.”

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Thumbsticks editor and connoisseur of Belgian buns. Currently playing: Dragon Quest XI, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Transistor.

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Classic Final Fantasy games up to 50% off in a Nintendo Switch sale

You’ll find big discounts on classic Final Fantasy games – including 7 through 10 – in a sale on the Nintendo Switch.

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Final Fantasy Nintendo Switch sale
Nintendo / Square Enix / Thumbsticks

You’ll find big discounts on classic Final Fantasy games – including 7 through 10 – in a sale on the Nintendo Switch.

The Nintendo Switch does feature new games – every week! Bookmark our new releases page to stay up to date on that front – but it’s the console’s credibility as a retro machine that gets people excited.

Everything is getting ported to Nintendo Switch. Everything. Even PC games at both ends of the joke – Doom at the low-end, to Crysis at the high – are getting a run-out on Nintendo’s little handheld that could.

It’s a combination of that lovely form factor and the ease of portability, with a little help from a lovely 720p screen, that makes the Switch feel so good as a remaster-wielding retro machine. (And of course, Nintendo’s stellar back catalogue, from a raft of NES and SNES games with Nintendo Switch Online to the recently-released Super Mario 3D All-Stars.)

At the top of my list of things I wanted to see on the Nintendo Switch was “every Final Fantasy game ever, please,” and, sure enough, Square Enix and Nintendo are obliging. But they’re rarely cheap. You’d think for all the times I’ve bought and re-bought Final Fantasy VI, VII or IX over the years, I might get some sort of loyalty discount. Maybe a Final Fantasy equivalent of Nectar points? But no. They cost quite a lot, even if Square’s ports aren’t always that hot.

Which is why a Square Enix sale on the Nintendo eShop – featuring a bunch of Final Fantasy games, but also, more! – at discounted prices is so exciting. There’s up to 50% off, as well, which is a cracking discount.

Here’s everything included in the Square Enix Nintendo Switch publisher sale.

Square Enix Nintendo Switch publisher sale

  • Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY!
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Final Fantasy VIII Remastered
  • Final Fantasy IX
  • Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD
  • Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
  • Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD
  • Final Fantasy Explorers (Nintendo 3DS)
  • I Am Setsuna
  • Lost Sphear
  • Oninaki
  • Romancing SaGa 2
  • SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions
  • Spelunker Party!
  • Star Ocean: First Departure R
  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call (Nintendo 3DS)
  • World of Final Fantasy Maxima

The picks of the litter are obviously the mainline Final Fantasy games. Final Fantasy VII is obviously brilliant; the remaster of Final Fantasy VIII is splendid; Final Fantasy IX is secretly the best one; Final Fantasy X/X-2 is another excellent remaster; Final Fantasy XII isn’t great (but the Zodiac Age remaster makes it much more bearable); and Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is… also on sale. There’s a reason the Final Fantasy VII Remake is so great, and it’s because it steals its best ideas from these earlier iterations.

The recent remake of Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon – subtitled EVERY BUDDY!, their emphasis, not ours – is also well worth checking out, even if it is a bit of a peculiar curio. Romancing SaGa 2 is also well worth checking out, while I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear are modern-developed indie games published by Square Enix.

These deals are only available until September 30, so you’d better get on that.


Bookmark our sales and freebies pages for the latest video game promotions. You can also follow Thumbsticks on FlipboardFacebookGoogle News, and Twitter for daily news updates.

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New PlayStation 4 releases (Sept 28-Oct 2, 2020)

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time and Star Wars: Squadrons headline the list of new PlayStation 4 releases.

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New PlayStation 4 game releases
Sony / Thumbsticks

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time and Star Wars: Squadrons headline the list of new PlayStation 4 releases.

Here at Thumbsticks, we pride ourselves in being some of the finest gaming armchair analysts around. But, we’re only human and have to confess that the popularity of Activision’s Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy took us by surprise. With over 10 million copies sold it’s now over to Toys for Bob to bring the franchise up to date with Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. First impressions are positive, and the recently revealed N’ Verted mode should give the game a venue to experiment with some wild new ideas.

EA’s history with the Star Wars licence has had its ups and downs, but following Battlefront II (eventually) and Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order the publisher has found some consistency. The strong run looks set to continue with Star Wars: Squadrons, a game that sets out to do one thing well, and from early accounts achieves it capably.

Speaking of licensed products, we’re also hopeful for The Walking Dead Onslaught, the new PSVR survival game from Survios. It’s about time the franchise had another decent tie-in.

Other new PlayStation 4 releases include Orangeblood, Genshin Impact, and Re:Turn – One Way Trip. There’s also a chance that the promising future racing game Pacer will be released on PS4 following a short delay.

Here’s the full lineup of new PS4 games confirmed so far. Check back throughout next week for details of any late additions.

New PlayStation 4 releases: Sept 28-Oct 2, 2020

Monday, September 28, 2020

  • Genshin Impact
  • Undead Darlings: No Cure for Love

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

  • Commander ’85 – TBC
  • Pacer – TBC
  • Re:Turn – One Way Trip
  • The Walking Dead Onslaught
  • Warsaw
  • Projection: First Light
  • Umihara Kawase BaZooKa!
  • Until You Fall

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

  • No new games today!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

  • FIFA 21 (EA Play First Trial)
  • Orangeblood

Friday, October 2, 2020

  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
  • Star Wars: Squadrons

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Visit our new releases page for weekly updates on the latest games. You can also follow Thumbsticks on Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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New Xbox One releases (September 28-October 2, 2020)

Crash Bandicoot, Star Wars and FIFA (sort of) headline this week’s list of upcoming Xbox One releases.

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New Xbox One game releases
Microsoft / Thumbsticks

Crash Bandicoot, Star Wars and FIFA (sort of) headline this week’s list of upcoming Xbox One releases.

Do you know which Star Wars games are the absolute best? No, it’s not that new one with Archie Andrews off Riverdale as a Jedi, nor is it Episode I: Racer, or even Knights of the Old Republic. It’s the classic PC flight sims, the ones that came on half a dozen floppy disks: X-Wing, Tie Fighter, and X-Wing vs Tie Fighter.

With that in mind, we are perhaps most excited about Star Wars: Squadrons, a Star Wars space combat flight sim with all the pew! pew! you’d expect. Squadrons has pedigree, too; it’s developed by EA’s Motive Studios, the crew behind the brilliant Star Wars Battlefront II. (That’s the modern, multiplayer Battlefront II with lots of cool ships to fly, not the middling shooter from 2005.)

The other big name on the Xbox One Releases this week is Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Developed by Toys for Bob, the company behind the excellent remasters, publisher Activision hopes that the return of its mascot platformer will emulate the successful return of its other late-90s icon, Tony Hawk.

There’s one other big game this week, but it’s not for everyone. Literally. If you don’t have EA Play, you won’t get to play FIFA 21 on October 2; you’ll have to wait until October 9 like everyone else. But if you do have EA Play – and remember, it’s now included with Xbox Game Pass – you’ll get to try out EA’s big footie sim, FIFA 21, a week before your mates.

Other games of note include Feather, a zen exploration game with beautiful flight, Commander ’85, an intriguing cold war mystery, and Inertial Drift, a racing game with an innovative twin-stick control scheme.

Each new game can be purchased from the Xbox One digital games store or the Microsoft web store. We’ll update this post throughout the week with any late additions to the lineup.

New Xbox One releases: September 28-October 2, 2020

Monday, September 28, 2020

  • No games for you!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

  • Bartlow’s Dread Machine
  • Projection: First Light
  • Re:Turn – One Way Trip

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

  • Birthday of Midnight
  • Commander ’85
  • Feather
  • Inertial Drift
  • Swordbreaker

Thursday, October 1, 2020

  • FIFA 21 (EA Play First Trial)
  • Orangeblood

Friday, October 2, 2020

  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
  • Star Wars: Squadrons
  • Dragon Lapis
  • Warsaw

Visit the Thumbsticks new releases page for the latest games. You can also follow us on Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Left 4 Dead 2 is having a free-to-play weekend

If you enjoy Left 4 Dead 2 during its free weekend, you’ll be able to pick it up for just $2 / £1.43.

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Left 4 Dead 2 free-to-play weekend
Valve / Thumbsticks

If you enjoy Left 4 Dead 2 during its free weekend, you’ll be able to pick it up for just $2 / £1.43.

Valve, the company that famously does not make threequels, released Left 4 Dead 2 almost 11 years ago, in November 2009. It’s a co-op zombie first-person shooter and, well, it’s really good.

Unsurprisingly, Valve stopped releasing content updates for it years ago – the last one was the addition of the first Left 4 Dead’s campaign to the sequel in 2010, if memory serves? – but that doesn’t mean Left 4 Dead 2 has been left fallow.

Thanks to Valve’s famously open Source engine (that’s a “famously open engine called Source”, not “Open Source” in the licensing sense), however, fans of Left 4 Dead 2 have been able to keep the updates coming. One of the biggest was Cold Stream, released for PC in 2012 and Xbox 360 in 2013.

Then, just this week, another community-created update – called The Last Stand – was released for Left 4 Dead 2. Once again, Valve gave the community creation its blessing and, as a result, The Last Stand is a very official unofficial update.

To celebrate, Valve is hosting a free-to-play weekend for Left 4 Dead 2 on Steam. The game, including all single- and multi-player modes, will available to play for free all this weekend. Even better, if you enjoy it, you’ll be able to pick up Left 4 Dead 2 for the princely sum of $1.99 / £1.43 until September 28, 2020.


You like free stuff, right? Bookmark our free games page and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for regular free stuff updates.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Rocket League goes free-to-play, promptly breaks concurrency records, servers

Rocket League shows the perils and potential of going free to play with its server issues and huge player numbers.

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Rocket League free to play concurrency records
Psyonix

Rocket League shows the perils and potential of going free to play with its server issues and huge player numbers.

September 23, 2020, marked a shift in the life of the multiplayer hit, Rocket League. As well as making the move from Steam to the Epic Game Store, it made its football-with-cars antics free-to-play on every platform. Existing Steam players can still use the Steam version, however, and updates will continue.

Rocket League’s move from mid-priced game to free-to-play inevitably disrupted the servers in a big way, however.

It was exacerbated by the shift coinciding with a “new competitive season”. Rocket League took to Twitter to announce that “Tournaments, Challenges, and other Rocket League features are impacted by this degradation”. Whilst they managed to get the servers stable that day, it might have concerned regulars about the game long-term.

It’s been mere days, but the future now looks even brighter for the already beaming game. 

Corey Davis, the co-studio head of Psyonix Studios, took to Twitter to announce that the game had reached a new milestone of 1 million concurrent players. Commenters claim it went as high as 1.4 million. That comes with the caveat that all platforms are being counted given its crossplay support. It encapsulates the PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One, Steam and Epic Game Store populations. If you support cross-play, I think you can be permitted the boast.

It’s a big boost in player population for a game that’s mostly averaged 60,000 to 80,000 on Steam since it was released five years ago. Even on Steam, Rocket League has now hit an all-time player high of 129,060 within the last 24 hours. 

For those who somehow have never partaken or just like a good deal, as we reported yesterday you can now secure yourself a £10 coupon if you redeem the game on the Epic Game Store.


Follow Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard for more video game news.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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