March 2015
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LIT Thurles Showcases Irish Gaming Industry

Leading gaming experts including Head of EA to participate in LIT/Microsoft Ireland event in Thurles.


Shannon Mostert and Ciara Bull from Nenagh, Co Tipperary

Some of the biggest names in the gaming industry will gather at the Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) campus here in Thurles later this month to participate in Games Fleadh 2015, an all-island games design and development competition for third-level students.

LIT Tipperary, whose alumni have worked on some of gaming’s biggest titles including ‘Call of Duty’, ‘StarCraft’ and ‘Guitar Hero’, has announced it will host Ireland’s largest gaming event on Wednesday March 11th.

Supported by Microsoft Ireland, EA Games and the Irish Computer Society, the 12th annual Games Fleadh will feature the ‘Direct X’ Endless Runner challenge, Robocode and the Game Studio ‘Endless Runner’ competition, the winners and runners up of which will present their games to Brenda and John Romero and the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) Greenlight Committee.

Games Fleadh 2015 – Open to the public for free

Brenda and John Romero have each more than 30 years experience working in the gaming industry, over 150 game titles such as DOOM and Quake to their credit, dozens of awards and have collectively founded nine game companies.

Games Fleadh will also feature games development and research talks by industry veterans such as Bryan Neider who will assist in the judging process for the various under graduate competitions. Neider is Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Electronic Arts (EA) labels, which collectively are responsible for producing some of the bestselling video game titles of all time including The Sims, FIFA, Battlefield and Madden NFL.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for students to create a prototype game, meet people from industry and make a name for themselves within the Irish game sector,” said Dr. Liam Noonan, Lecturer at LIT’s Game Design and Development degree in Thurles at the launch of Games Fleadh 2015.

“In terms of career development, participating in this competition is invaluable as students are adding to their portfolio of creative content and networking with students from other colleges and people from the games industry. It is these up and coming game developers and their innovative ideas that will act as the catalyst for job creation in the Irish game development sector,” added Dr. Noonan.

According to Dr. Noonan: “We were delighted and privileged to work with the Fulbright U.S. Specialist Award scholar Brenda Romero and her husband John back in September in our Thurles campus and they were very supportive of our Games Fleadh initiative. They suggested that the 2015 theme should be Endless Runner as this would allow students flexibility in designing either a 2D or 3D game.”

Commenting about Games Fleadh 2015, Brenda and John Romero said: “We are really excited to be involved in Games Fleadh this year. Having travelled all over Ireland and met hundreds of students and game developers, we know how much talent the country has and are looking forward to seeing this year’s results.”

Speaking ahead of his visit to Ireland, Mr. Bryan Neider stated: “I am looking forward to meeting the games design and development students at LIT Games Fleadh 2015, discussing their “Endless Runner” games and sharing our experiences at EA Games in the design and development of future titles.”

Stephen Howell, Academic Engagement Manager, Microsoft Ireland commented: “Microsoft is delighted to be on board sponsoring the Games Fleadh once again in 2015. We have demonstrated our commitment to the competition over the long term as it represents a fantastic opportunity to shine a spotlight on the immense third level games design talent in this country. It also plays a unique role in promoting knowledge-sharing, with international experts taking part and the latest research in the field up for discussion.”

Games Fleadh 2015 is open to the public for free. Online registration is available at

For more visit or search Twitter #gamesfleadh.

Full Fibre Broadband Facilities For Rural Tipperary

Some 79 rural Tipperary towns and villages are to be connected to a new state-subsidised fibre broadband service that will cost up to €1bn to build. Announcing this welcome news and major investment, North Tipperary Labour Minister for State Alan Kelly has stated that this is a significant development for the rural and remote areas of county Tipperary.

Areas in the hinterland of Thurles who are expected to benefit from this exciting development will include; Ballingarry (South),  Ballinure,  Ballycahill, Boherlahan,  Bouladuff, Castleleiney, Clonoulty, Coalbrook, The Commons, Dovea, Drom, Drumbane, Dualla, Goold’s Cross, Horse & Jockey, Killea, Lisheen, Loughmore, Moyne, New Birmingham, Rossmore, Templetouhy, and Upperchurch, to name but a few.

Minister Kelly spoke of the project to yesterday, while attending at the launch of the new and exciting Derrynaflan developed tourism trail held in the Horse & Jockey Hotel, Thurles, Co Tipperary.

Derrynaflan Trail

Representatives from Littleton Development Association, Holycross Community Network, Slieveardagh Rural Development, Upperchurch Development, South Tipperary Development, Hidden Tipperary, together with senior political representatives who attended at the launch of the new “Derrynaflan Trail” tourism project yesterday.

Construction is expected to begin next year and close to 1,100 small rural towns and villages across Ireland will now gain access to fibre broadband for the very first time.

Mr Kelly said the Government was committing to some €512m funding to this project, with hundreds of millions in matching investment expected from tender-winning broadband operators. The money is being made available through €6.8bn from the Strategic Investment Fund, formerly known as the National Pension Reserve Fund, and the European Investment Bank and the plan would require final approval from the European Commission.

“This upgrading now signals this Government’s intention to subsidise/upgrade rural broadband, thus reversing an unacceptable growing divide between urban and rural Ireland,” Minister Kelly stated.

Nationally the plan envisages 900,000 of Ireland’s estimated 2.3 million premises gaining access to the new fibre network. This will be dominated by a target list of 1,100 small towns and villages that are identified as having no other high-speed broadband service available.

The list of these 1,100 small towns was the result of a mapping exercise conducted by the Government and both this list and mapping exercise could still be further expanded. “It should be noted that anywhere that industry is currently providing a high-speed service, same will not be included in our current rural areas to now be expanded and if infrastructure such as railway lines etc. could be further utilised to help distribute required fibre lines, the slow work of having to dig new trenches could be avoided,” Mr Kelly continued.

Mr Kelly said it had not yet decided whether the tender would initially seek one overall partner or whether it could be divided into separate tenders, based on regions.

This overall rural fibre broadband project is set to be complete by 2016 at the latest and will be welcomed particularly by small struggling rural businesses in Tipperary.

Happy Birthday To Le Cháteau / Choos Thurles Tipperary

Your Birthday Invitation from Le Cháteau Boutique and Le Cháteau Choos in Thurles!

Le-ChateauJoin Le Cháteau Boutique and Le Cháteau Choos for their birthday party, celebrating the anniversary of their respective openings. Same takes place next Saturday, (April 19th) from 10:00am to 7:00pm.  All are welcome to visit and enjoy a glass of ‘Bubbly’ and some ‘Tasty Treats,’ as you browse through the latest fashion trends or perhaps organize a voucher for that special someone.

As Tipperary fashionistas, in particular, will already know, Le Cháteau and Le Cháteau Choos together stock everything a lady needs for every occasion. Their exclusive designer clothing labels include; Annette Gortz, Oblique, Rundholz, Bleu Blanc Rouge, Airfield, Luisa Cerano, Backstage and Matilde Cano.

FIFA14-PS4Chateau Choos also here in Thurles have established and built a fine reputation for stylish and exclusive ladies footwear and are the proud stockists of brands; Mary Claud, Treacy Neuls, Alex by Mercury, Rovers, Goldmud, and of course Lario  Papucei.

Every desired matching accessory (Bags, Jewellery, Gloves, Wraps, Wallets, Scarves and Hats) is also available, with labels such as; Otazu, Olga, Maria Calderara, Totoborello, Gantebs, Amati Chic, Airfield, Lanzetti, Luisa Cerano, Oswald and Ganteb.

There will be something for everyone, including that ever patient boyfriend, partner or husband, left waiting around while you visit and browse, with your chance to entry him into a free draw to win a copy of FIFA 2014 for his PS4. (Winners details to be announced later.)

Yes ladies, trust me when I say Le Cháteau Boutique and Le Cháteau Choos have left no stone unturned in their planning for next Saturday’s big ‘Birthday Bash.’

Xbox One An Expensive Entertainment Swiss Army Knife

Microsoft ushered in their own brand of next-generation home entertainment last night with the highly-anticipated reveal of the “Xbox One,” their third Xbox console and the all-encompassing successor to the world conquering Xbox 360.

I really don’t use the phrase “all-encompassing,” too lightly here.  As it is, Xbox One is seemingly more interested in being an expensive entertainment Swiss Army Knife than that of a mere video game console, the basic premise that made the Xbox brand what it is today.

Under the hood, Xbox One packs some incredibly impressive features for a console – a Blu-ray drive, 500GB of storage space, the ability to interact with live TV, a new Xbox dashboard interface controlled using your voice and the inevitable evolution of their hands free Kinect controller. Throw in Skype, cloud saves, evolving game achievements, an expanded Xbox Live service and impressive first and third party support for the console – and on paper, Xbox One seems like an impressive evolution of brand Xbox. Microsoft clearly want this new Xbox to have more of a relationship with your living room and with your day to day life, an impetus that they have been eluding for the last couple of years with Xbox 360.

Based on last night’s reveal, you can’t help but feel that games, the reason that most of us actually made space below our heavily cluttered TV units for an Xbox to begin with, has now been relegated to the sidelines to some extent. While the architecture is clearly impressive and the huge next-generational games that we all expect from this new console will no doubt be announced and revealed in the coming months, last night Microsoft only managed to alienate the core demographic of gamers, who made them who they were to begin with. Apart from the fact that they had very little in terms of games that we didn’t already know about like a new ‘FIFA,’ and a new ‘Call of Duty,’ to show us last night, it was revealed that Xbox One will support a pre-owned “fee,” to play games.

What this means is that individual games will be tied to individual accounts – meaning your titles can only be played elsewhere on another Xbox One if the second user ‘chokes up,’ an additional fee. Paying the fee means both users now own the game, and the disc isn’t needed going forward. So basically the days of getting a new game on Christmas morning, trying it on your Xbox and then bringing it over to your cousins house, after your dinner, to try it on his new Xbox, are gone, unless of course your cousin is happy to incur a pre-owned fee. PC’s have been locking games to people’s hardware or on-line accounts for years now. Consoles have always had an advantage over PC’s in so much as you can take one single retail disc and do whatever you please with it. Xbox One just relinquished this advantage.

Xbox 360 Games Not Backwards-Compatible With Xbox One

In addition, your current catalogue of Xbox 360 games are not backwards-compatible with Xbox One, meaning you cannot play your current 360 games on Xbox One. There was no suggestion of Xbox 360 games being made available through another on-line service or the cloud. As you can imagine, these announcements, coupled with a seemingly everything but the game-centric entertainment energy, have made the game playing public very unhappy.

And then there’s the question of always on-line connectivity and the suggestion that the new Xbox requires you to be always connected to the internet to play and interact with its it fruitful features. Thankfully, it does not require an always on-line connection, BUT it still requires an internet connection and it still needs a connection to the web at least once a day. You know, in this day and the age of Smart-phones, 3G, high power fibre-optic broadband and enhanced connectivity; it’s easy to forget that not everyone has a connection to the internet readily available to them where they live. God knows Ireland’s greater broadband issues are by now well documented. Xbox One will reportedly require an internet connect once every 24 hours. If you don’t have an internet connection, then your Xbox One is rendered unusable it would now appear.

You might ask yourself just what Microsoft is thinking about with these features, but in truth, any gamer will tell you that these revelations aren’t as surprising as you think. They’re actually merely reinforcing the precedents already firmly established in this industry. Paid un-lockable content already on the shipped game disc, micro-transactions in games, games that require an on-line connection to actually play and paid subscription services to do things like browse the web, go on social media or play on-line (things that are already free to begin with) have become stalwarts of this industry – and its continuously getting worse. If you have money, games companies and publishers will try and put both hands in your pocket, because they know that you’re a sucker for your favourite game or your favourite gaming franchise.

Your Move Sony

You must wonder what Sony, Microsoft’s biggest rival in the games industry arena, makes of all of this. In the wake of the Xbox One Sony reveal their financial stock actually rose significantly. Last February they were the first to weigh in with their new next-generation console, the PlayStation4.  What did they confirm? Yes games and lots of them. That’s what gamers want. Yes, PlayStation 4 will use different applications, watch movies, play music, allow you to browse on-line and do all the other things that you expect it to do, but if PS4 is anything like PS3, you won’t have to pay for the privilege. As it is, on-line services on PS3 via the PlayStation Network are free – No subscription required and if you do want a little more “bang for your buck,” you can subscribe to PlayStation Plus, a completely optional ‘Games on Demand Service,’ that grants the user access to dozens of free games every year for a flat €50 a year entry fee. The service is a unanimous success and you never feel like you’re paying for something you shouldn’t be. Sony has also confirmed that PlayStation 4 will not discourage pre-owned games users, so don’t expect any kind of entry level fee to play a game you don’t actually own unlike with Xbox One. But Sony must come out and reaffirm this stance. The ball is squarely in their court.

In early June at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angles, both Sony and Microsoft will fully reveal their final console wares, ahead of the Xbox One and PS4 releases this holiday. For Microsoft you would think, it’s an operation in damage control and in saving some face on last night. If they can justify all of the confusion and unnecessary fees that surround their new console with big exclusive games that people want and need to play, they might just be able to get the gaming public behind them again.

As for Sony, if they’re clever enough, they could rub further salt into Microsoft’s wounds. If they stick to their guns, keep their console free to use on-line and don’t block or discourage used games, while continuing to deliver on their promise to release a games console ahead of all else, there might be no way back for the Xbox One. Microsoft appear to be more interested in gaining customers and not passionate gamers.

As we say at Chess, “Your move Sony.”

Both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are both expected in time for Christmas this year in Ireland. Which “one” will you choose?

Thurles Company To Benefit From Competitive Start Fund

Good news for Thurles today as North Tipperary TD Noel Coonan welcomes the announcement of funding to NeverMind Games Ltd, Thurles, under the Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund. This new Thurles enterprise, situated in the Thurles Chamber Enterprise Centre, on the LIT Tipperary Campus, Thurles, is one of 30 successful companies recently awarded funding.

The Competitive Start Fund provides young companies with the critical early stage funding to test the market for their products and services and progress their business plans for the global marketplace.

Deputy Noel Coonan

Deputy Noel Coonan

The local Fine Gael TD stated: “This brings to 60 the number of innovative early stage start-ups supported under this fund in 2012. Access to early stage funding is vital for Tipperary’s community of entrepreneurs and we are working to nurture their ideas and enterprises. NeverMind Games Ltd is an innovative video game development studio based in Thurles and the entrepreneurs involved in the initiative have been rewarded for their creativity in this sector.Over the past year we in Government have developed a series of new finance instruments, including the Micro Finance Scheme, the Credit Guarantee Scheme, the €700million Seed and Venture Capital Scheme and the €850million NPRF funds.”

In announcing the news Deputy Coonan today also urged companies to apply for the first round of the 2013 fund, which is currently seeking applications.

“Fifteen companies are expected to benefit under this round, with a total of €750,000 available for investment. The closing date for applicants is Wednesday 23 January at 3pm.  This call is open to start-ups from both ICT and Industrial sectors including sub-sectors such as Internet, Games, Apps, Mobile, SaaS, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Software, Life-sciences, Cleantech and Industrial Products,” concluded Deputy Coonan.

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