roblox

Roblox Hires Online Safety Expert as Director of Digital Civility

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Fortnite is getting all the attention, but online free-to-play game Roblox is still one of the most popular gaming destinations for young people around the world, with an active user base in the millions. Much of that crowd is under 18. Roblox Corporation has made numerous steps to ensure online safety, a top concern for parents whose kids enjoy exploring virtual worlds.

The Roblox Corporation has recently hired British online safety expert Laura Higgins as its Director of Digital Civility (the staff page lists her as Online Safety Operations Manager). Higgins has 20 years of experience working with online safety and educational organizations like the South West Grid for Learning. Higgins will work to create a safe, fun, productive environment for players, as well as develop educational resources for parents.

“Because Roblox is rapidly growing into one of the most popular places for kids and teens to hang out and play online, we have a duty to make sure that when they use our platform they can explore their creativity freely and safely,” said Higgins. “We have an opportunity to engage with young people in a unique way, and I hope that by listening to them and giving them a voice, we can help shape their positive behaviors both online and offline. I am beyond delighted to be joining this world-class team of innovators, and I look forward to working with external partners around the world.”

Roblox’s new Digital Civility Initiative will work to improve programs for parents, enhance user experience, and extend Roblox’s educational work with schools.

Roblox originally launched on PC way back in 2006 as a building creation game using Lego-like blocks. It’s also available on mobile devices and Xbox One. The ESRB has rated the Xbox One version E10+ for Fantasy Violence.

rocket league

Cross-Platform Support Now Available for PS4 in Rocket League

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In an update this week Psyonix has officially announced a highly requested feature for multiplayer sports-car game Rocket League: Cross-platform support for PlayStation players. The PlayStation Cross-Play Beta is live now for Rocket League. Players on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch can matchmake and play with each other, regardless of platform.

Rocket League had previously supported cross-platform play between Xbox, Switch, and PC. Sony was notoriously the last holdout, refusing to support cross-platform play even while other companies, like Microsoft and Nintendo, played nice. Leave it to the incredible popularity of Fortnite to finally change Sony’s stance last fall, as they started the PlayStation Cross-Play Beta program.

The Cross-Play Beta is enabled by default in Rocket League. To double check, head to the Options section of the main game menu to ensure that Cross-Platform Play is checked off.

Cross-platform play is supported in both random matchmaking and private matches. Psyonix is planning on releasing a cross-platform party system as their first update of 2019. The party system will allow for players to team up with friends across any platform.

“Today’s announcement is an important one for us here at Psyonix, because we know how much our community has wanted full cross-platform support for quite some time,” states the announcement post. “It’s because of you, our fans, and our generous partners on all systems and services that have made this possible in the first place. On behalf of the entire team, thank you for your passion and persistence as we continue to do our best to make Rocket League the best experience we can.”

Rocket League is available on PC (Win, Mac, Linux), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch. It originally launched in 2015 and remains a popular multiplayer sports game, replacing traditional soccer players with customizable cars. It’s rated E for Everyone.

furiends

Walk Your Virtual Dog with Furiends AR Mobile Game

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Furiends is a mobile AR game designed to motivate players to get up and move around. Instead of hunting for Pokémon, however, you’re walking the dog.

“Furiends offers the one-of-a-kind experience of adopting a dog in augmented reality,” said Kyra Constam, Blue Goji. “These virtual dogs can go on any adventure, making for some unreal photos along the way. We encourage players to play, train, and take their best shot.”

The goal is to play and walk with your furry friends as much as possible. Stars are rewarded for playtime while Coins are rewarded for taking steps using your smart phone’s step tracker. Stars and Coins can be traded in to gift your pet with food, toys, clothes, and accessories for photos.

Players are encouraged to upload their AR dog pics to Furiends’ official Instagram account for a chance to win prizes.

Furiends will be playable at PAX South this weekend, taking place in San Antonio, TX. The mobile game is currently free to download on iOS, and supported by in-app purchases to buy more toys, accessories, and other items for your virtual pet. Blue Goji is donating a portion of the proceeds to non-profit pet rescue organization Austin Pets Alive.

An Android version is set to arrive later this year. Furiends has a rating of 4+ on the App Store.

new super mario bros

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe Bounces Onto Switch

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Nintendo’s premiere Mario 2D sidescroller on Wii U has been re-released with new content on the Switch. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is available now. And arriving on Nintendo 3DS is another Mario remaster: Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey.

“After a strong 2018, both Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS add to their large and diverse libraries with two solid games starring Mario and friends,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior VP of Sales and Marketing. “Nintendo is giving fans on both platforms good options to kick off their entertainment in 2019.”

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe includes the original New Super Mario Bros. U and its more challenging sequel, New Super Luigi U, for a total of 164 levels.

Both games feature up to four player simultaneous local co-op. Players can choose between Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, and newcomers Nabbit and Toadette. Both Nabbit and Toadette are geared for younger gamers, offering an assist mode. Nabbit is un-phased by enemies and earns extra lives, while Toadette can turn into Peachette, letting her double jump, float, and bounce up from pitfalls.

Note that you’ll need additional controllers to play with three or four players.

The recently arrived Nintendo 3DS version of 2009’s Bower’s Inside Story features revamped graphics and gameplay. The new mode, Bowser’s Jr.’s Journey, puts Bowser’s kid in the limelight as he gathers an army and wrecks havoc. Bowser’s Inside Story is fully compatible with the Nintendo 2DS and 2DS XL.

Both games are rated E for Everyone.

destiny 2

Bungie and Activision Getting a Divorce, Bungie Keeping Destiny

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Bungie, best known for creating the Halo series and more recently the Destiny games, has announced they are splitting from parent company Activision after eight years. As part of the deal, Activision will transfer ownership rights of Destiny to Bungie, who will become an independent publisher.

“We have enjoyed a successful eight-year run and would like to thank Activision for their partnership on Destiny,” states the official update post. “Looking ahead, we’re excited to announce plans for Activision to transfer publishing rights for Destiny to Bungie. With our remarkable Destiny community, we are ready to publish on our own, while Activision will increase their focus on owned IP projects.”

Bungie has a history of independent development as well as partnerships with large corporations. After developing PC games in the 90s, Bungie was acquired by Microsoft in 1999 after showing its new first-person shooter, Halo: Combat Evolved. Halo became an Xbox exclusive and was instrumental in catapulting the new console’s success throughout the early 2000s.

In 2007 Bungie split from Microsoft, but Microsoft would retain the rights to the Halo franchise. Bungie continued to develop Halo games for Microsoft, releasing Halo 3: ODST and Halo Reach.

Then in 2010 Bungie announced a 10-year publishing agreement with Activision, which included letting Bungie keep the intellectual property rights of any new games. The Destiny series was born from that agreement. “We had a vision for Destiny that we believed in, but to launch a game of that magnitude, we needed the support of an established publishing partner,” states the post.

Destiny and its sequel, Destiny 2, have enjoyed critical and commercial success, with numerous content updates and DLC over the years. Bungie promises to continue this trend as they resume life as an independent developer. “We’ll continue to deliver on the existing Destiny roadmap, and we’re looking forward to releasing more seasonal experiences in the coming months, as well as surprising our community with some exciting announcements about what lies beyond,” states the post. “We know self-publishing won’t be easy; there’s still much for us to learn as we grow as an independent, global studio, but we see unbounded opportunities and potential in Destiny.”