XBOX News

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I'm starting a thread to post news pertaining to the 360!


From G4:

Xbox Live To Allow Purchases In Money, Not Microsoft Points
Posted by Stephen Johnson - Monday, June 08, 2009 8:01 AM



Microsoft has (finally) announced plans to let gamers buy content on Xbox Live with actual currency as opposed to Microsoft Points. Live is also rolling out a community rating system, so gamers will be able to offer their option, in star-form, on every piece of content the service offers, as well as a new avatar award system.

The actual currency purchases will launch with Microsoft's new Games on Demand service announced at the company's E3 press conference. The service allows the purchase of full-size, AAA games through download. So there is no real reason to ever leave your couch again. If, for some reason, you like paying in points instead of money, that option will still be there for you to enjoy.

Microsoft is also rolling out a new marketplace for avatars, in case you want to spend real money on fake clothing and accessories. Along with the purchasable avatar good, a new avatar award system is coming, where players will be given avatar-related rewards for in-game actions. This is totally separate from Xbox Live's achievement system, in case you were wondering. Way to increase the fake self-esteem with even more useless indicators of gaming prowess, Microsoft!

I've hated Microsoft Points since the launch of the system. We already have a system of "points" for determining the worth of goods and services: It's called "money." I'm glad that Microsoft is finally telling us what things are actually worth, so we don't have to convert an imaginary currency just to buy a damn game. As for the download of full-games: Love it. But yo know who hates it? Traditional, walk-into-the-store retailers!
 
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From G4:

Microsoft Discusses Hulu On 360 And Last.fm's Xbox Live Gold Exclusivity (Why?!)
Posted by Patrick Klepek - Monday, June 08, 2009 1:11 PM



There were several social and media partnerships announced at Microsoft's pre-E3 press conference last week, including Facebook, Twitter and music streaming service Last.fm. Most cynics expected Microsoft to adopt their already available Zune Marketplace into Xbox Live; instead, they're adding a way to listen to music at no cost. Well, that's not totally true -- it's no cost if you're already an Xbox Live gold member.

I quizzed Xbox exec. and corporate VP John Schappert last week about providing Xbox Live Silver users, can purchase content but locked out of multiplayer, the ability to purchase specific services. If Xbox 360 is moving towards becoming a multimedia device, do users really need to pay $49.99 a year just to access, say, Last.fm? Schappert's answer was cagey.

"There's more details to come on Last.fm," he said, pausing, "but what we did announce today was it will be free for Xbox Live [Gold] members in multiple countries coming this fall."

Could more customization for Xbox Live users be coming in the future? Schappert answer seems to suggest there's no reason to rule it out.

I couldn't leave our interview without asking the elephant in the room, though: Hulu. Rumors of a native Hulu application for the iPhone have lingered, and with Hulu launching a full-featured desktop application on PC and Mac, it's clear the networks are interesting in expanding where, when and how people access Hulu content. So, Hulu on Xbox 360?

"I will say that we are always -- I think as evidenced by our partnerships that we've announced -- we're always looking at new opportunities," said Schappert. "We want to offer the best entertainment on Xbox Live in as many countries as we can. But it takes a while to get these deals done, it takes a while to form these relationships, form these partnerships and find a great experience for [all] of our partners. Suffice to say, I don't think the Facebook, Twitter, Skye partnerships are gonna be the last ones we're going to announce, but nothing new beyond that."

That seems to be a clever way of saying Microsoft's looking into it.
 
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From G4:

Microsoft's Create-A-Game Tools (aka Kodu) Coming This Month
Posted by Patrick Klepek - Tuesday, June 09, 2009 2:57 PM

http://g4tv.com/videos/37357/Kodu-Game-Creator-Walkthrough/

Few companies have invested in providing newbie-friendly tools for creating games as Microsoft. XNA Game Studio let newcomers to jump right into PC and Xbox 360 development and resulted in the creation of Community Games, an indie games channel for Xbox 360. XNA still requires programming knowledge, though. What if you wanted to make a game without this seemingly crucial step? You need Kodu.

Kodu's designed to let your everyday gamer -- not programmer -- create whatever game is living in their head. This isn't a years-off tech demo, either; the Kudo blog claims the software is headed into the final stages of production and scheduled for a release before the end of the month. A specific date and pricing (if any), however, has not been set.

If you're not familiar with Kudo, make sure to check out TheFeed's Raymond Padilla's preview from GDC 2009.

What kind of game do you want to make? Kodu sounds absolutely fascinating, but I strongly suspect I'll treat it like LittleBigPlanet -- five minutes of playing around with my own thing, hours spent checking out what the rest of the world makes.
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

Microsoft Won't Commit To Real-Money Transactions Across Xbox Live
Posted by Patrick Klepek - Tuesday, June 09, 2009 11:21 AM



Unfortunately, Stephen Johnson might have jumped the gun a bit yesterday, when he applauded Microsoft (and rightly so!) for introducing real-money transactions for Xbox Live's upcoming "Games on Demand" service. The E3-announced feature allows users to purchase Xbox 360 games straight to their hard drive with a credit or debit card without Microsoft Points. Microsoft has since clarified to me that we shouldn't necessarily be taking that as a sign real-money transactions will be extended to the rest of Xbox Live.

"We're happy to offer our community the convenience of using either Microsoft Points, direct debit or credit card when purchasing full Xbox 360 titles through Games on Demand," said a Microsoft spokesperson in an e-mailed statement to me. "Other content on Xbox LIVE Marketplace, such as Game Add-ons, movies and music videos, will continue to be sold with Microsoft Points and we have no further announcements at this time."

There might be some hope for Stephen's joyous exclamations, though. Microsoft made sure to include "we have no further announcements at this time." Clearly, if users respond to the ability to pay without using points, Microsoft reserves the right to make it a service-wide feature.

You know, a feature that should have been there years ago.
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

Microsoft Is No Longer Shipping 360 "Coffins"
Posted by Stephen Johnson - Tuesday, June 09, 2009 11:10 AM



According to Joystiq, Microsoft is no longer providing cardboard boxes to gamers whose Xboxes take an electronic crap. The no-more-coffins policy began on May 26 "in an effort to expedite the repair process."

So if (when?) your Xbox red-rings, get ready to find a box yourself. Microsoft will, however, cover the shipping costs for you: "Customers can now ship their consoles themselves using an e-label provided by Microsoft and do not need to wait for an empty box to be shipped to them," the company said.

I suggest shipping your Xbox in something with flair, like old, cut-up pizza boxes, or, if you're really, really angry over your useless system, ship it in a lead box*-- if Microsoft is paying the postage, why not?

Here at TheFeed, we've had numerous experiences with differently bricked 360s. Share our pain at the links below:

Mike D'alonzo's non-red-ring death
Ray Padilla's broken console saga

*Do not actually do this.
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

EA Executive Believes Xbox 360 Is "Maxed Out"
Posted by Jake Gaskill - Tuesday, June 09, 2009 9:54 AM



It’s been just a week since Microsoft executive Shane Kim remarked to VentureBeat that his company believes the Xbox 360 has a 10-year lifecycle (thanks in large part to whatever Project Natal will eventually turn into). And yet today, we’re hearing something quite different from a major third-party player. Now, far be it from me to pontificate on the technological potentiality of the 360 over the next several years, so I’ll let senior vice president of EA Games Europe, Patrick Soderlund, do it for me.

During an E3 2009 interview, Soderlund told Official Xbox Magazine:

"Sony has a lot of good games this year. If you go to their booth, there's a very consistent, high quality product line-up and that will help them. I do think that we'll see developers inside the organization getting to understand the PS3 better and I think that we're getting more power out of PS3 right now... I think that we've maxed out the 360 but we haven't maxed out the PS3."
Rah! Rah! Flame bait! Flame bait! Yeah, I get it. Soderlund also said that the 360 is his favorite console, and that, “If I was Sony, I would have a headache,” so simmer down people. And just because Soderlund believes the 360’s technology can’t be pushed any more (which is a major accusation that would require hard data to prove, which Soderlund does not provide) doesn’t preclude the 360 from being capable of churning out quality titles for years to come, as shown by the perennial success of Sony's second console offering, the PlayStation 2.

But enough of my ramblings, what do you think about the Xbox 360 apparently topping out in its just its fourth year on the market?
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

I completely forgot about Kodu. I remember sites talking about it when it was shown at GDC. I'm interested to see reviews on it when it's released.
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

Xbox Live Down For Maintenance On June 16th
Posted by Stephen Johnson - Wednesday, June 10, 2009 8:42 AM



Get ready to panic, Xboxers: On Tuesday, June 16th from 7:01AM UTC (12:01 AM PST) Live will be down for maintenance for up to 24 hours. As if this wasn't insult enough, when the service resumes, you will not be enjoying any new features or content. The maintenance is to prepare for some of the new goodies that are coming later this year.

Personally, I plan on spending that day on the PlayStation 3... but if you're a single-system person, you can spend that 24 hours either playing single-player games or you can just imagine how great it will be when last.fm is available through Live, you can rate all the content on Live, you can shop in the Avatar marketplace, and buy full games through the new Games on Demand service.

Although Major Nelson doesn't say it, I hope that maintenance also solves some of the lag problems and other issues Live has been having for some people as well.

So how will you spend your day apart from Xbox Live?
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

Microsoft's Kudo Tsunoda Showing Project Natal On Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Posted by Raymond Padilla - Wednesday, June 10, 2009 2:16 PM

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon has been aggressively covering videogames. The show has already reported on E3 2009 and interviewed Double Fine's excellent Tim Schafer on Brutal Legend. The gaming goodness isn't stopping there though. 1Up's Sam Kennedy (Mr. Kennedy!!!) has reported that Microsoft's Kudo Tsunoda will be on tonight's show to demo Project Natal.

I'm thrilled that Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is giving a lot of time to videogames. The exposure is brilliant for the business. Schafer and Tsunoda are both fantastic spokesmen for gaming. Certainly the exposure is great for Double Fine, EA, and Microsoft, but everyone involved in gaming should be happy that the industry is getting this type of coverage.

How do you feel about a late show covering games? Is it a sign of how far the business has come? Do you think it's just the flavor of the week? Or is it simply a matter of Fallon's team (hi Gavin!) being the right age and the right demographic? Most importantly, can Fallon possibly use Project Natal without looking like a tool?
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

WOW, the maps look awesome.
Why didnt they add more then one map pack for CoD4? CoD5 sucks compared to 4 yet more and more goodies are avail for it.

(Zombie modes, 2 map packs)
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

Microsoft's Project Natal Launch To "Conceptually" Rival That Of The Xbox 360
Posted by Jake Gaskill - Thursday, June 11, 2009 12:37 PM

Even if Microsoft and Sony are actually using the same motion-sensing technologies that Nintendo supposedly rejected when it was developing the Wii, that will most likely have absolutely zero effect on how successful and game changing those motion-controlled technologies will be once they’re finally released. For Microsoft, the risk/reward ratio for its Project Natal is significantly higher than Sony’s own motion-based project, given that Natal is attempting to make hands-free gaming a reality.

If that sounds like a massive undertaking will the potential to reach the same level of importance and technological significance usually reserved for next-gen console launches, that’s because it could be, according to Microsoft executive Shane Kim.

Kim told Kotaku during E3 2009:

"Conceptually, the launch of Natal will be like the launch of Xbox 360. It's going to be that big. We're not just going to ship it when the hardware and software are ready. We have to make sure that there are enough content experiences that are really good. That's similar to how you would think of the launch of a new console. It's got to have a great launch line-up. That's the same thing here."


Given what Microsoft is looking to achieve with Natal, both within the gaming space and beyond, there’s no reason to think it won’t be a major deal when it’s finally released in a few years. Will people be lining up for days ahead of time to be among the first to get their hands on it? Perhaps, but as Kim points out, a successful console launch is wholly dependent on the software that launches with it, and that will be triply true for Natal. Maybe as we learn more about what exactly gamers can expect from Project Natal, it will become easier to envision massive lines of people waiting to get their hands on the premier hands-off tech of this, or any, generation.
Will you be lining up a week ahead of time to get your hands on the first Project Natal bundle?
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

Jimmy Fallon Demos Project Natal
Posted by Stephen Johnson - Thursday, June 11, 2009 11:29 AM
As Raymond told you yesterday, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon had an early look at Microsoft's controller-less control system codenamed Project Natal. Now here's the video. So click the vid and watch Fallon and Microsoft's Kudo Tsunoda try out the new tech:

http://www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com/video/clips/project-natal-demo-6109/1123102/

So what do you think? Did Fallon look like a tool or did he pull off the demo?

Now that the "big three" hardware makers' tech cards are on the table -- Microsoft's Natal, Wii MotionPlus, and Sony's wand-thinger -- it remains to be seen which will work best.

My pick: Sony. Sony's PlayStation 3 gizmo seems to combine some of the best elements from Natal and the Wiimote. It works by mixing the EyeToy camera with a lighted, accelerometer-laden wand, and I think the combination of the two technologies is likely to provide the most stable, reliable control. Although early reports are very positive about the Microsoft system, I wonder whether it will actually be able to deliver on the promises these early tech demos show.

Who do you think will win this upcoming battle in the console war?
 
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From G4:

Xbox LIVE Community Games Out, Xbox LIVE Indie Games In
Posted by Jake Gaskill - Thursday, June 11, 2009 2:13 PM



Wow. A second indie game-related story in one 24-hour span? So that’s why I’ve been feeling underappreciated and overlooked all day. Huh. Anyway, for anyone out there steeped in the world of Xbox LIVE Community Games, then you’re probably aware that Microsoft has just released XNA Game Studio 3.1, the newest version of its free game development software.

In addition to plenty of tweaks and updates on the technical side, Microsoft is also planning to do a little cosmetic work on XNA's image as well. Starting today, the company begins the process of transitioning the name "Xbox LIVE Community Games" to the practically unrecognizable "Xbox LIVE Indie Games." The name isn't scheduled to be officially applied until late July, but if you don’t want to alienate yourself from your indie developer friends, you should probably start using the new name immediately.

Anyone here used XNA’s SDK to build their own games? If so, can we play them?
 
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From G4:

Steven Spielberg Not Necessarily Making Project Natal Games
Posted by Patrick Klepek - Thursday, June 11, 2009 3:24 PM

There was quite a bit of commotion at Microsoft's pre-E3 press conference last week when acclaimed film director Steven Spielberg emerged on stage to talk about Project Natal, Microsoft's new camera-based take on motion control. Just because he endorsed the possibilities of Project Natal, however, doesn't mean he's working with Microsoft on making anything, as he's done with Electronic Arts on Boom Blox.

"He's excited about Natal," said Xbox exec. and corporate VP John Schappert in an interview with me after the conference. "I think you should speak to him on specifics."

"We actually went out and showed him [Spielberg] our technology when we were out in LA [Los Angeles] a few months ago," explained Schappert, "and he got so excited that he played Burnout [Paradise] -- I think it was 20 minutes. And he loved it, just loved it. And of course, he's involved in our industry, working with some our partners to make games, so he couldn't be more excited. So when we told him we were going to unveil it on stage, he wanted to be part of it and we're proud to have him."

Microsoft seemed to be hinting if Spielberg were to produce a game for Project Natal, it would come from outside their group. Considering EA has publicly declared support for both Microsoft and Sony's motion initiatives, that seems likely.

"Steven's been an ardent support of controller-free gaming," concluded Schappert. "Everyone can go to the movies, everyone can watch a movie, not everyone can play a game."

Who wouldn't want to play a version of Boom Blox using the Project Natal camera?
 
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From G4:

Is Project Natal A Wii HD Spoiler?
Posted by Stephen Johnson - Thursday, June 11, 2009 3:25 PM



Video game industry analyst Michael Pachter has an interesting theory about Microsoft's Project Natal. Pachter thinks the launch of Microsoft camera-assisted control system will act as a spoiler for an HD Wii, predicted for release in 2010.

"We do not see Project Natal as a Wii killer; rather, we think that Microsoft intends to introduce it at the same time as the launch of the Wii HD, and hopes to hold off Nintendo’s plans to encroach on Xbox 360 turf after 2010."

Pachter also said that his company sees Natal as less a game control scheme than as an "easy-to-use dashboard control scheme."

Woah, back up a sec there, Pachter. I'm no professional analyst or anything, but I'm going to go ahead and look into my crystal ball anyway: I don't think there will be a Wii HD in 2010, if ever. If the success of the Wii has proven anything, it's proven that most people (not gamers, now; regular people) don't care about having the most advanced graphics. It might be a huge deal to you that Wii games are only 480p, but trust me, your mom and your 8 year old brother do not care. As long as the Wii is seen as the Fun, Happy, Goodtime console (and that's how folks view it), I don't know why Nintendo would change their strategy and end up making a more expensive system. Instead, look for price-cuts next year when sales flag, as well as Wiimotes that integrate the MotionPlus coming standard with all Wii's.


Also, how much do the markets for the Wii and 360 really overlap? Why would Nintendo be targeting the 360's market, when they could just introduce more unlikely segments of the non-gaming world to the Wii instead? I don't see it like the 360 trying to hold onto its market share from the Wii. It's just the opposite: Both Microsoft and Sony are desperately trying to grab some market-share from Nintendo. Each is trying to out-Wii the Wii. The Wii is not trying to out-hardcore its two competitors. Why enter an expensive, three-way fight for such a small part of the consumer base?

Of course if Nintendo is trying to pair some of Microsoft's consumers away, I'm not sure it would work. Just as your mom likely doesn't care about technical advancement and won't buy a 360, Johnny Hardcore Gamer isn't going to buy a Wii over a 360 just because it's HD... unless there are more games that cater to his gaming needs, of course. But the place Nintendo would likely start (if going after the hardcore was their strategy) would be with a robust and free online network.

So, in summary: I don't think we'll see a Wii HD in 2010. The next, full console re-launch for Nintendo will feature HD, of course, but that's some years off. Also: I think we'll see Project Natal on the market in November 2010. Feel free to disagree with in our comment section, as always.
 
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From G4:

It's 'Possible' Mass Effect Squad Members Could Appear In Mass Effect 2 Lineup
Posted by Patrick Klepek - Friday, June 12, 2009 11:25 AM



BioWare freaked some of its fans out yesterday when it seemed that all of the characters you grew to know in the original Mass Effect wouldn't have much of an impact in the sequel. The studio has since attempted to calm fan complaints in their own message boards, claiming that it's "possible" some squad members in Mass Effect could join you in Mass Effect 2.

"In some cases, it is possible that squad members from ME1 could end up in your ME2 squad," said BioWare writer Patrick Weekes. "Again, we're trying to approach this with respect for the characters. Nobody is being clumsily shoehorned in or casually written out. All surviving squad members are at least present as NPCs with important story roles."

"BioWare is not currently giving details about which squad members may possibly join up with Shepard," he continued. "We hope that part of the joy of ME2 for people who played the first game is seeing what has happened to people you cared about over the last two years, and we don't want to spoil that."

It sounds like BioWare wants to keep who is and isn't returning somewhat of a guessing game, but even I have to admit it's a little odd I'm not starting Mass Effect 2 with the same crew that carried me through the original.
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

New Xbox Console Coming Fall 2010?
Posted by Raymond Padilla - Monday, June 15, 2009 9:54 AM

http://g4tv.com/videos/38897/Project-Natal-E3-2009-Trailer/

Is Microsoft releasing a new console next year? That's the word according to 1Up's Sam Kennedy (Mister Kennedy!!!). According to his sources, not only will Project Natal will be released as an add-on for the Xbox 360, it will also be an integral part of a new Xbox system.

"Microsoft will not only release Natal as an add-on for the Xbox 360, it will come standard with the next Xbox console. Yes, there will be a new Xbox console next fall.

However, the new console won't just be an Xbox 360 with a camera, though -- we've heard it will be considered a new platform and carry a new name (Xbox Natal?). It's not clear what sort of upgrades we might see, but some have suggested it will be an slight upgrade of the current Xbox 360 technology. Current Xbox 360 games would be playable on it, but future games would be able to take advantage of the added muscle."

Kennedy has been covering games for an awfully long time and has outstanding sources, but the whole thing seems off to me. Microsoft is doing well with the Xbox 360 and it seems way too soon to confuse and splinter the market by introducing a new product. Increasing the momentum, or maintaining it at the very least, of the Xbox 360 seems like the smarter thing to do, especially with a strong first-party lineup and a price drop coming from Sony within the year. It just doesn't make sense to muck with customers and developers with a new product when the current one hasn't even peaked.

What do you think of the possibility of a new Xbox coming out next year? Would you buy it? Or are you content with the Xbox 360? Wouldn't you prefer that Microsoft put a full effort behind the 360? Or are you itching for something exciting and new (like the Love Boat)?
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

This is helpful info, but sometimes confusing to follow. Who's the author of these posts? Whose comments are after the quotes?


If I may offer a suggestion, how about posting your cut & paste quotes in bold and your own comments, predictions, etc. in regular type. Or just cite the author.

Again, just a suggestion for an easier read on this and the PS3 PSP thread.
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

The only comments I put are "From G4:".

All the bold stuff if direct from G4's site. The first 2 lines give the topics title and who and when it was posted by, which are G4 employees. For example the above post was posted by Raymond Padilla.

If I add to the post, I just do a new reply.

Hope that helps.
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

Xbox Live Issues Apparently Resolved
Posted by Patrick Klepek - Thursday, June 18, 2009 10:53 AM

Microsoft evangelist Major Nelson is telling the world that Xbox Live's issues after 24 hours of maintenance have apparently been resolved. Gamers were reporting issues with signing in, redeeming point codes and accessing certain content through the various marketplaces. You should be able to safely access all of Xbox Live again, but if there's an issue, let me know.
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

deathstar1000 said:
The only comments I put are "From G4:".

All the bold stuff if direct from G4's site. The first 2 lines give the topics title and who and when it was posted by, which are G4 employees. For example the above post was posted by Raymond Padilla.
If I add to the post, I just do a new reply.
Hope that helps.
Ahhh, I see. Thanks.
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

deathstar1000 said:
From G4:

Xbox Live Issues Apparently Resolved
Posted by Patrick Klepek - Thursday, June 18, 2009 10:53 AM

Microsoft evangelist Major Nelson is telling the world that Xbox Live's issues after 24 hours of maintenance have apparently been resolved. Gamers were reporting issues with signing in, redeeming point codes and accessing certain content through the various marketplaces. You should be able to safely access all of Xbox Live again, but if there's an issue, let me know.
Oh wow, no wonder why my Point card didn't work.
 
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From G4:

Confirmed: New Xbox 360 Arcade Units Shipping With 512MB Of Internal Memory
Posted by Brian Leahy - Thursday, June 18, 2009 3:31 PM

Looks like the onboard memory on the Xbox 360 Arcade has been upped to 512MB from 256MB due to the inclusion of the Jasper board. Microsoft confirmed this fact to Eurogamer, saying:

"The Xbox 360 system software uses some of the included 512MB memory; less storage will be available to users. Additional storage (sold separately) may be needed for game saves, Xbox LIVE Arcade games, content downloads, personal file storage, and additional enhanced functionality. A hard drive is recommended for LIVE, and is required for some features," the company said in a statement. "We want to offer consumers a bit more memory at the same low price so they can enjoy more experiences on Xbox LIVE."

Now, I will write the story that I wish was the truth...

<fake>Today, Microsoft confirmed that the Xbox 360 Arcade would be shipping with a hard drive. Furthermore, the company will be allowing developers to use hard drive caching to increase the performance of their games.</fake>
 
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From G4:

Hey, Microsoft -- What's Up With Too Human And Peter Jackson's Halo Project?
Posted by Patrick Klepek - Thursday, June 18, 2009 2:54 PM



Sparked by news that Xbox exec. John Schappert is moving on from Microsoft to mosey back towards Electronic Arts, I combed through my E3 intervew with Schappert, in search of information I might have left out. During our chat, I asked Schappert about the status of Peter Jackson's still-mysterious Halo project and the future of Too Human.

Sadly, there's not much to say about either. Take it away, Schappert.

"[Halo] Reach is not the Peter Jackson collaboration," he said, cautiously looking towards his public relations handler, when I asked if the project's still alive. "I don't think we have much to talk about with that one, do we?"

If Halo 3: ODST is this year's big Halo release and Halo: Reach is 2010's big Halo release, it's not much of a surprise that Peter Jackson's thing, whatever it is, remains under wraps. One relationship we haven't heard much about, though, is between Silicon Knights, Microsoft and the future of the proposed Too Human trilogy. Is it alive?

"We don't have anything to announce with respect to Silicon Knights or Too Human right now," said Schappert.

Well, thanks anyway, John.
 
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From G4:

BioWare's Casey Hudson Explains The Improved Combat In Mass Effect 2
Posted by Raymond Padilla - Thursday, June 18, 2009 10:52 AM

http://g4tv.com/videos/39063/Mass-Effect-2-E3-2009-Project-Director-Interview/

While everyone was floored at E3 2009 by what BioWare is doing in terms of story and characterization in Mass Effect 2, one aspect of the game that isn't getting a lot of play is the combat. Longtime BioWare fans love the pause-and-play skirmishes the company has been serving up since Baldur's Gate. Newer gamers would prefer something smoother and more fluid. It looks like BioWare is keeping up with the times. Project director Casey Hudson told G4tv.com aboot about the combat improvements:

"Much of the way Mass Effect 2 plays is similar to Mass Effect, but every part of it has been improved. The biggest difference, in fact, is when you pick it up, it feels like a precision shooter. It has all the depth that we had before, but now weapons feel accurate and powerful right from the beginning. We have physics-based special-abilities. All of these things can now be fired in real time, so you don't have to pause the game to select tactical options. It just feels so much more fluid. It feels fantastic."

I'm sure that younger gamers and players that are relatively new to BioWare games will love the improvements that Casey was talking aboot about. As an old school BioWare fan, I'm a little saddened by this inevitable modernization. I fondly remember the epic battles I waged in Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II -- part of the fun was hitting the space bar in the middle of a fight and spend minutes thinking about all the cool ways I could dispatch my enemies before finally delivering the deathblow. I totally understand that the majority of fans desire combat that's faster and smoother, but I wish there were more gamers that enjoyed a break in the action so that they could plot their cerebral assassinations.

What do you guys and dolls think? Do you like that Mass Effect 2's combat will be more fluid than the original's? Or do you enjoy pause-and-play gaming? Also, isn't Casey's Canadian accent awesome?
 
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From G4:

If You Want To Play Mass Effect 3 With Your Shepard, Make Smart Choices
Posted by Patrick Klepek - Thursday, June 18, 2009 10:38 AM



Commander Shepard will be the main character in Mass Effect 3. Whether the Shepard you're controlling in the final act of BioWare's trilogy is the same Shepard you created in the original Mass Effect and brought into Mass Effect 2, however, isn't guaranteed. If you make the wrong choices, your Shepard will die (and it won't be a game over screen, this is for real) and won't make the journey to Mass Effect 3.

"If you do die in the ending of Mass Effect 2, it will not come as a surprise, nor will it be random," said executive producer Casey Hudson on an IGN developer blog. "It will be pretty obvious that you headed into the final mission knowing that Shepard probably wouldn’t make it out alive. Throughout the middle of the game you are building up information, resources, a team, and a ship that will be able to do the job, and although you can jump straight to the final mission at a certain point, you’ll have a good feel for whether you’re likely to survive it."

"Part of what makes the final mission dangerous in a more profound way is that each squad member could potentially die a real, story-based death during that mission as well," he continued. "You might have an ending where Shepard’s entire team survives, or where the entire mission is a bloodbath and everyone (including Shepard) is killed, or anything in between. And for all characters, death in Mass Effect 2 means they won’t show up in Mass Effect 3."

You have to credit BioWare for having the [censored] to create such drastically different endings, though I can't help but feel a bit cheated that one ending isn't the true conclusion. If Shepard dies, why can't someone else pick up the mantle and continue forward in Mass Effect 3? You're able to make choices about how Mass Effect's story plays out, but ultimately, you're still tied to the story BioWare wants to tell.
 
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From G4:

Steve Ballmer Confirms New Xbox in 2010
Posted by Jake Gaskill - Thursday, June 18, 2009 3:12 PM

Well, it's official. Microsoft will be releasing an all new Xbox next year, and it will incorporate a "natural interface" and a built-in camera that tracks motion and voice. In other words, that Project Natal-integrated Xbox 360 rumor that popped up on Monday (and was then refuted and revised on Tuesday) ended up being true after all. I know. I'm a little scared too.

As TGDaily reports, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made the announcement at the Executives Club of Chicago today. Sadly, Ballmer did not elaborate on the new Xbox (is it just a special edition Elite console with a camera strapped to it?), but the news is still quite appreciated.

Reaction time people.
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

Microsoft Explains Away Steve Ballmer's "New Xbox" Comments
Posted by Jake Gaskill - Friday, June 19, 2009 8:42 AM

You have probably heard by now that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer suggested in a speech yesterday that a new Xbox 360 SKU with built-in Project Natal support will be released next year. Aside from causing every Microsoft PR rep to scream simultaneously, the news caused quite a stir, especially among the Xbox faithful.

Well, Microsoft has since commented on the issue, stating that Ballmer didn’t know what he was talking about (What CEO does? Am I right, people?), and that he wasn’t referring to a new Xbox, but rather Project Natal (which seems like a weird thing to say, considering Ballmer was apparently talking about a console, not a separate device, and I would hope Ballmer knows the difference).

Microsoft’s Major Nelson posted about the incident on his website, saying:

“As the Xbox team stated at E3 two weeks ago, we are not even halfway through the current console generation lifecycle and believe Xbox 360 will be the entertainment center in the home for long into the next decade. Project Natal will be an important part of this platform, but we have not confirmed a launch date at this time.”


And Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg told Kotaku yesterday, “We’re not going to be launching a new console any time soon…I really believe he was speaking about Project Natal.”
First off, I thought it was rather clear that Ballmer wasn’t referring to Xbox 720. Given his mention of a built-in camera and a “natural interface,” a redesigned 360 is the obvious conclusion, and not a very surprising conclusion at that. Plus, Project Natal is said to work on all current and future 360, suggesting that the 360’s that are on the shelves today will still be available next year and beyond.

Now, Greenberg’s comments are a bit more interesting because he didn’t flat out say, “Ballmer was talking about Project Natal.” He said he “really believed” he was. You’d think this would be something that a Microsoft representative would be able to find out for sure, rather than having to speculate about. Also, unless TGDaily mistakenly used the word “console” (they also referred to the mystery product as a “device”), I find it bizarre that Microsoft would say that Ballmer was talking about Project Natal, which is supposedly just a camera peripheral (filled with all sorts of other fancy technology as well), if he used the word “console” in his speech.

On the other hand, it could just be that Ballmer was the one who incorrectly used the term “console” when talking about Natal. While I think it’s still a very solid bet that Microsoft will introduce a redesigned 360 with built-in Natal support (and flashes of a prototype were surely dancing in Ballmer’s head during his speech), I think this whole mess was the result of Ballmer being unsatisfactorily briefed on Natal in terms of how to refer to it.

Either that, or Microsoft hasn’t figured out a good way to describe Natal, which I can understand, given that’s it’s more than a camera but less than a full console. (It also probably didn't help Ballmer that Microsoft's Shane Kim said last week the Project Natal release would "conceptually rival" the launch of Xbox 360.) Hopefully, Microsoft puts out a glossary of ways to discuss their gaming products soon, so that we can avoid situations like this in the future.

What's your take on this whole thing?
 
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From G4:

Rare Recruiting Project Natal Designers Via Twitter
Posted by Jake Gaskill - Friday, June 19, 2009 1:02 PM



Developer Rare recently (and reluctantly) joined Twitter, and while most of the posts have been your typical fair thus far, one post stood out for rather obvious reasons.

Yesterday, as Kotaku reports, Rare posted the following message:

“Rare is recruiting designers. Excited by Natal? Got loads of cool new ideas? Think differently to others? Take a look on our website. [GM]”

That’s right. Rare is recruiting for Project Natal designers. Of course, it’s not at all surprising that the company is looking to boost its numbers, given its extensive involvement in Natal’s development, and the fact that the company is hard at work on an unspecified number of Natal-specific titles at the moment.

The application deadline is July 17, so if you haven’t applied yet, get to it!
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

Steve Ballmer Apologizes For New Xbox Confusion
Posted by Patrick Klepek - Monday, June 22, 2009 10:53 AM



Backtracking executives, ahoy! Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was likely thwacked over the head with a stick the moment he left the stage in Chicago last week, where his comments implied a "new Xbox" was coming sometime next year, compounding rumors circulating the 'net recently. Ballmer claims to IGN UK, however, that it was all a misunderstanding.

"I confused the issue with my poorly chosen words," he said. "There is no news in my comments. Things are as reported after E3. Sorry."

Such a response is expected. Ballmer and Microsoft weren't looking to make any announcements last week, but it doesn't mean there wasn't truth within Ballmer's statements. It's looking increasingly likely Microsoft will re-brand Xbox 360 with a relaunch of sorts next year. New hardware? Probably not. New, Natal-focused bundle with a massive marketing campaign to court Wii owners? Hmm.
 
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From G4:

Mass Effect DLC News Coming This Week
Posted by Patrick Klepek - Monday, June 22, 2009 10:41 AM



BioWare has been teasing that new downloadable content is coming to the original Mass Effect sometime this year and it's looking like we'll be hearing about it this week. BioWare's official Twitter feed got people chatting about the possibilities last night.

"Getting the feeling some news about the next ME1 DLC may be coming this week. Keep your eyes peeled," teased the studio.

An arena mode is apparently coming to Mass Effect, but what I really want is more planets to explore. Do you think we'll get that?
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

Substantial Gears of War 2 Update On The Way
Posted by Jake Gaskill - Wednesday, June 24, 2009 8:59 AM



Gears of War 2 might be sitting in the fourth spot on the most current list of the top played games on Xbox Live, but there is still a ridiculous amount of people tearing through hordes, and each other, at any given time. Well, those players will be pleased to know (depending on how much you love/hate varying aspects of Gears 2 multiplayer) that Epic Games has announced that a pretty substantial update is on the way.

The list of additions and fixes is lengthy, so if you’re really interested in all the finer details, then I suggest checking it out. If you’re just looking for a few of the major points, here’s what you can expect from the new update:

The ability to collect multiplayer experience by playing Horde mode. Players currently gain experience at this rate:

50 points per completed Casual wave
75 points per completed Normal wave
100 points per completed Hardcore wave
125 points per completed Insane wave

The ability to restart Public Horde from the current failed wave instead of having to start over from wave 1. Title Update 4 also allows the host to kick players from a Public Horde session.

Increases the frequency of downloadable content (DLC) maps showing up in map voting if all players have shared map packs.

A message at the end of the match to explain to players that they should wait before quitting so that they avoid an experience penalty for quitting early.

Support for the new campaign chapter, "Road to Ruin."

13 new achievements worth 325 points. All of the new achievements require the Dark Corners Map Pack, a set of seven new maps and a deleted campaign chapter to be released July 28.

Going down but not out (DBNO) in Horde now subtracts 50 points, so there is no advantage to using the revive-bonus technique.

There are quite a few exploit fixes and general tweaks as well that will undoubtedly frustrate those players who have found ways to cheat the game in various ways.

Are you one of these players? If so, what exploit are you going to miss the most?
 
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From G4:

Xbox Live Rolls Out Summer Avatar Clothing
Posted by Stephen Johnson - Wednesday, June 24, 2009 7:39 AM



It's officially summertime in the Northern Hemisphere, and that means it's time for barbeque's, surfing and spending time under the glare of the oppressive sun. It's also time for a new wardrobe. Not for you, of course, for your avatar!

According to Xbox Live's Major Nelson, a full selection of summertime duds will be available for your fake, online self. Here's the menu:

Male

Rashguard
White Vest
Swim Shorts
Surfer Shorts

Female

Flower Vest
Surfer Hot Pants
Surfer Shorts
Surfer Skirt
Surfer Dress

The new rags are free and will be available indefinitely.

Are you gonna dress your dolly up for the season? Not me. I'll be keeping my respectable suit and tie on no matter how hot it gets. Unlike real life, my avatar dresses preppy.
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

Lost Planet 2 Co-Op Demo Headed To Xbox Live "Soon"
Posted by Jake Gaskill - Monday, June 29, 2009 2:05 PM



Anyone who's seen even the smallest bit of Capcom's sci-fi action title Lost Planet 2 in action can tell you that the game looks like it's going to be a ridiculously fun time. Well, if you're looking forward to the game, and you happen to own an Xbox 360, then you're in for a bit of a treat, if a recent comment by Capcom producer Jun Takeuchi pans out.

As Joystiq reports, Takeuchi appeared on Japanese gaming publication Famitsu’s "Midnight Live 360,” and said that the four-player co-op demo of Lost Planet 2 that was playable at E3 2009, will be released on Xbox Live “soon, I guess.”

It’s a bit odd that a game producer wouldn’t know for sure when a demo for his own game will be released, but perhaps he was just covering for the fact that he wasn’t supposed to reveal that information at that particular time.

I’m currently waiting to hear back from Capcom about the demo and Takeuchi's comments, so stay tuned.
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

Bungie Says Halo: Reach Might Include Project Natal Support
Posted by Jake Gaskill - Monday, June 29, 2009 10:53 AM



In a recent interview with the Seattle Times, Bungie’s president Harold Ryan and its creative director Joseph Staten elaborated a bit on the company’s upcoming Halo 3: ODST, and dropped a rather compelling piece of info regarding the next-next Halo installment, Halo: Reach, as it pertains to a little something called Project Natal.

While discussing Reach, Ryan said, “I absolutely think [it] could be enabled with [Natal].”

Considering that the Halo franchise has been the defining series for Microsoft and the Xbox since it began, it’s hardly surprising that Bungie would be a major player in Project Natal’s “launch” as well. It also wouldn’t be surprising if Natal is released around the same time Reach hits shelves in the fall of 2010. How Natal and Halo will work together is anyone’s guess at this point, but I can pretty much guarantee that 99 percent of players will want to use the technological marvel to deliver the most realistic face-squatting in gaming history.

On the topic of Halo 3: ODST, Staten said that in addition to the “hard-boiled” noir-ish storytelling and dialogue, ODST’s gameplay is also a bit of a departure for the Halo franchise as well.

"We're doing a lot of pretty neat things in terms of mixing it up, introducing some non-linearity, some free exploration. This is also a mystery story so there's a lot more clue-finding and mystery-solving than you would normally find in a game of this kind — nothing that strays too far from the fun 'Halo' experience, but we definitely decided to take a little bit of risk and have some fun with this one."

What do die-hard Halo fans think of the new open-world approach for Halo 3: ODST? Aside from the aforementioned use, what ideas do you have for how Natal will be used for Halo: Reach?
 
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From G4:

Updated: Microsoft Staffing Up For Internal Project Natal Game Studio
Posted by Patrick Klepek - Tuesday, June 30, 2009 3:19 PM



Updated: 4:41PM EST

Microsoft has been very clear it's taking Project Natal, their camera-based, controller-less new form of gaming, very seriously. Bungie's said Halo Reach could possibly incorporate Project Natal and based on a series of hiring posts I discovered this morning, Microsoft is seriously staffing up for a brand-new, internal Project Natal development studio.

There are currently at least 20 different positions Microsoft is currently looking to fill related to Project Natal, including five artists, 11 software development engineers, three game designers and one audio engineer.


"Would you like to work on a next-generation project, built from the ground up in MGS," asks one Natal-related post. "We have a very strong team, currently responsible for Gears of War 2, starting a new project in a start-up like environment. This is a rare opportunity to work on a team of game industry experts tackling a new challenge."

Does this mean Epic Games is heading up a new Project Natal-focused studio at Microsoft? Not necessarily. Kudo Tsunoda, formerly of EA Chicago, originally landed at Microsoft to become the brand manager for the Gears of War franchise. Tsunoda was later assigned to the then-secret Project Natal and helped unveil the technology at E3 earlier this month. But the job listings suggest this involves more than just one man, but again -- this could simply be internal Microsoft staff that worked with Epic Games on Gears of War 2 moving onto a new Project Natal assignment.



I reached out to Microsoft for comment about this new internal studio, but Microsoft did not respond to comment. If I receive clarification from the company, I'll update this story with more information. [Note: Microsoft has responded -- scroll to the bottom of the story for their statement]

Some job postings appear to conflict with one another; a few hope to attract talent for a Project Natal-based game, while others specifically discuss the new Project Natal studio with the goal of producing "interactive and creative content for Project Natal." It's unclear whether they are one and the same or completely different initiatives. Microsoft is clearly hoping for big things from this. Job listings are meant to incite enthusiasm, but Microsoft's implying a revolution is expected from this studio.

"Are you interested in shipping innovative games that will change the way people play?" said another Project Natal-related listing. "If so, we want you to join our team to work on an amazing next-generation project, built from the ground up, in Microsoft Game Studios. We are building a NEW GAME STUDIO from the ground up that will revolutionize both WHAT you play and HOW you play. You have the chance to get in on the ground floor and work with professionals responsible for some of the industry’s greatest innovations to date."

What do you think they're up to?

Update: Microsoft released the following statement about the Project Natal job postings:

"Regarding the recent job postings," said the company, "some MGS employees who worked on 'Gears of War 2' are moving onto a new, unrelated project. We have no details to share about the project at this time."

Sounds like our analysis was right on -- the listings referenced Microsoft employees, not Epic Games' staff.
 
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From G4:

Fable III Confirmed Via New York Times Wedding Announcement
Posted by Jake Gaskill - Tuesday, June 30, 2009 10:20 AM



Ah, the New York Times "Wedding/Celebrations" page; that most coveted of nuptial news locations that some couples would literally kill to appear in. Yet among all of the pieces of information that you would expect to find there, gaming news falls right between “How to survive an octopus attack” and “Where to find the best chili in Rhodesia.”

Well, that all changed this past Friday, when the wedding announcement of Amy Gilbert and Joshua Atkins appeared in the New York Times. Among the many meaningful pieces of information in the announcement, the one that stood out most prominently, especially for gamers, was the mention of the groom, Joshua Atkins, as being the “lead game designer for Fable III.”

Now, finding out that a third installment in Peter Molyneux's critically acclaimed RPG series is in the works is obviously far from surprising, yet it’s still nice to know that development is underway, especially since Microsoft and Lionshead have been mum up to this point with regards to the project even existing. Congratulations to the happy couple, and thank you for producing the most unorthodox game announcement ever.
 
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Re: XBOX 360 News

From G4:

BioWare Calls Project Natal A 'Really Powerful Idea'
Posted by Patrick Klepek - Monday, July 06, 2009 11:46 AM



It could be several years before gamers see developers like BioWare incorporating Project Natal into flagship projects -- development kits only landed in their laps a few weeks ago -- but one arm of the influential Canadian RPG studio has gone on record with GamesIndustry.biz about its interest.

"Yeah. I got a demo of Project Natal before E3. So I got to check it out hands-on at EA with some other folks, and I thought it was pretty cool," said BioWare general manager and co-founder Ray Muzyka. " […] Natal looks exceptionally interesting as a platform extension. I think it's a really powerful idea."

"I think it applies very much to an emotionally-engaging narrative and a story-driven game," continued Muzyka. "Fulfilling characterisation more completely in games is I guess a way to achieve that. So it's something we'd be interested in exploring. We haven't made any announcements or anything, but it's an intriguing technology that I think we'd want to see more of and see what we could do with it."

The idea of a Project Natal-supporting space-faring RPG in the vein of Mass Effect fused with the character interaction prototyped in Peter Molyneux's Milo demo at E3 sounds good to me. Too bad it's going to be a long, long time before that happens, but I can wait.
 
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