Tag Archives: Kinect

Xbox One Has Been Revealed! Our Editors Debate Yay or Nay

So we finally got our big reveal for the next generation Xbox and it is called the Xbox One. It is being billed as the next revolutionary step  in not only gaming, but home entertainment. The ‘One’ concludes that this will be the only entertainment console and device that will be connected to your television because of its expansive features that will cater to all. From the new Kinect, technological innovations, partnerships with Skype, the NFL, and Comcast, Microsoft wants to be your exclusive hub for all things media. Of course, we have a varied range of opinions of the staff and we’re going to share our thoughts on the system, the press conference itself, and other things. Amanda Denton, Scott Fraser and myself dive into the essentials below, after the video of the reveal part of the press conference courtesy of IGN.

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xbox one kinect

First, let’s just go through everything that’s been announced so far today. One of the big things they are pushing today is the Kinect. From the outset, this is a major part of the console as they have concentrated on improving the use of the Kinect and its integration into navigating the system. They called it ‘rocket science’ type stuff and while skeptical, for the most part it was impressive. Showing off the use of the system in tracking the unique voice and person, the system seamlessly moved between the Xbox Dashboard to cable TV to movies previously watched as well as music recently listened to. This is a result of the architecture inside which uses multiple operating systems and the new hardware that allows for a quick transition. Also taking advantage of the upgrade is the sensor that can recognize things with more accuracy, such as joints and being able to follow gestures of the body, to give a more accurate performance for games that need to track precise movements.

xbox one kinect demo

You are also able to enable something called ‘Snap Mode’, which allows you to run two windows or apps at the same time. By saying ‘Snap Mode’ and ‘Skype’ for instance, you can watch your movie on one edge of the screen and then enable a Skype call to your body and multi-task. It’s a nice feature that should cater to the ADD masses, as well as anyone that wants to have say, a television show in the background and not have to feel interrupted when a Skype call comes through. Also using hand gestures, you can easily go between modes and minimize and maximize windows as need be.

xbox one snap mode

Going through the technical details, it’s probably best to lift the image from the presser and put it below before we dissect it:

xbox one tech specs

I’m sure none of this matters to a bunch of you but it’s important to note that it’s a powerful system inside. Plus a Blu-ray player is what most people are looking forward to and Sony has lost that advantage now from their gaming console. Again, the most impressive feature is the three operating systems that will run the system as you are able to switch back and forth between applications and windows as need be. Being able to go from game to the dashboard, to live TV and other applications will go a long way in trying to establish the Xbox One as the only machine that should be under your television. Getting back to the live television part of it, the demo they used was from Comcast television but they only said that it will work with compatible TV providers and no mention of exclusivity of certain providers. This is something that we need to keep an eye on just in case.

Speaking of TV, Xbox One will now carry original television programming. That’s right folks, get ready for a Halo television series produced by none other than Steven Spielberg.

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Details are still up in the air but it should feature live-action and be done in conjuction with 343 Studios, the people in charge of Halo 4. You can debate that as you will but with the hiring of an ex-CBS programming exec, it was in the works for awhile. Other things we can look forward to is the use of the Cloud in order to record gameplay and saves so you can move from console to console or even to brag to other gamers about your achievements. Also having an editing platform for your videos will be included, as well as a built-in DVR function. With that, expect a constant internet connection to be required because the use of the Cloud and the promise of live updates for your system while not in use will make it essential to be connected at all times.

xbox one controllerThe new controller still is very familiar, with a few different button placements. The most important thing to note is the battery is now internal so the bump on the back will disappear and will now probably charge just like the PS3 controller. The new design also allows for more accuracy in the analog buttons and new triggers as well. Of course, we’ll probably have to wait until E3 to see what other differences there are when we can get our hands on it.

xbox one ea sports

As for game announcements, there were…uhh…not a lot. Obviously the big one would be Call of Duty: Ghosts, as well as EA Sports showing off their Ignite next-gen engine, as well as the new Remedy game Quantum Break for Xbox One but it was very light on games. Forza did look impressive but they are probably saving the rest of the big guns for E3 in the next coming weeks.

xbox one overhead

Overall, I came away from the press conference a bit underwhelmed. Maybe it’s just the gamer in me that wanted to see more games but the Xbox One seemed to really hammer the idea of the Kinect into our heads and the living room experience. That’s all fine and dandy but I honestly want to see why I should get this gaming system over the PS3. Technologically, the system is impressive but to demo that with Skype calls, Windows 8 interfaces, and the ability to switch to Live TV because it’s easier than hitting the Input button on your remote felt like pandering to the casual person. Which is great in a business sense but it didn’t grab me like I wanted it to.

Talking with Amanda and Scoot, our opinions varied a bit as well. Scoot noted that he was underwhelmed as well but he’s still excited. He also added the Kinect will be the big thing they are pushing which is odd considering that the current iteration has mixed opinions in the current gaming community. Amanda came away as impressed although wanted to hear if backward compatibility will make the jump to the Xbox One. I also asked them about things like the original programming. Scoot said the new system opens the door for television on the console, especially with going as far to produce an original Halo series for the console. Original programming also has Amanda excited despite the hiring of an ex-CBS exec for “original” entertainment.

She’s also excited about the use of the Kinect and expanding on that technology as well. With Microsoft pushing for this to be the only thing that you need for your television, Amanda also believed it could accomplish that task. With it having a Blu-ray and the use of Netflix and Hulu, there’s no real point in having a bunch of boxes when one will do. Scoot agreed with that assessment as the Blu-ray player plays a big part in the entertainment package for the living room. I also asked my fellow editors one the top feature they saw, the most disappointing and what they want to see in the next reveal at E3. Scoot said his favorite part was the Halo TV show because of the huge step Microsoft is taking with the inclusion of original programming but that it was also the most disappointing because he felt that was the top thing they were trumpeting with the system. He wanted to see more XBox One exclusives and more info on the new tech running the system, possibly of the rumored projector system. Amanda thought the top feature was the inclusion of the Blu-ray and the expanded Kinect integration. She’s most skeptical of the new programming chief for original programming because CBS doesn’t have the best track record in terms of ground-breaking entertainment. As for what she wants to see next, she wants more information about the television aspect, such as if a contract with Comcast is involved with it or the tuner being built in, or even if it’s included in the initial price point. Also, say you don’t have Comcast and are they the only TV provider? There’s still a lot of questions that need to be answered.

xbox one dash

We do know that it will be released at the end of this year, most likely in time for the holiday season so hopefully we’ll get more information around E3 time. Of course, please share your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page. What do you think, is Xbox One a game-changer or do you need to see more to make it the one and only system for you? In case you want more info, check out Wired’s and Techcrunch’s take on the new console as well!

Xbox 720 ‘Durango’ Confuses & Angers Lazy

 

Let me start off by saying, I’m not the most active gamer. Oh sure, I used to be. I used to be that guy who read 2-3 gaming magazines every month, back when multiple gaming magazines still existed, and charted out game releases on my calendar, eagerly awaiting the new releases of Conker’s Bad Fur Day or Metal Gear Solid 2. In the recent years, I’ve kept getting gaming consoles, but I find myself using them for gaming less and less. I can count on on two hands how many PS3 games I have, and despite having a rather sizable 360 library, I really only play 2 games with any regularity, and they’re both sports games and multiplayer.

Kick faces everyday.

With the way Microsoft and Sony have positioned their systems, gaming consoles aren’t just for games anymore, not by a long shot. So despite my lack of interest in 90% of the actual games being made today, I’m still hotly anticipating the release of any new hardware and the plentiful amounts of wondrous technology it brings to my living room. I even bought the Kinect, not only because I like jumping up and down or inane dancing games, but because I thought the image capturing technology and voice recognition were just plain cool. To this day, I still love being able to command my XBox to pause my movie, merely with my voice. That’s right, I don’t even want to have to move to grab the controller.

Unfortunately, there’s a cruel dichotomy for big fat men who want to move even less but still play games, as the current trend in gaming is standing up and interacting with your game – direct player control through motion sensing and all of that active, almost exercise, balderdash. This theme seems to be continuing, with the little glimpses that have been released by Microsoft, with a project of theirs tentatively codenamed Durango that looks to immerse players ever further into their gaming environment by literally projecting them into the game.

via [GameTyrant]

“The patent describes how the room layout will be scanned and how the images will adjust to take account of wall color or objects like a cylindrical lamp. It also mentions a depth camera (which I’m assuming is the Kinect device) that will adjust the perspective of the images depending on where the user is looking.

The patent reads that in the context of a gaming scenario, the user “may turn around and observe an enemy sneaking up from behind”.  

If that sounds strange and vague to you, here are some pictures to illustrate, taken from the incredibly-boring-to-read patent.

It’s all fun and games until the projections come to life and try to murder you.

It maps your room in 3D, and then projects weird mountains and trees in the background, presumably while you’re playing Red Dead Redemption 2. It’s a neat idea in theory, and if it is even half as successful as it is in these drawings (it won’t be), it’d be really fun for hyperactive kids to jump around and pretend they’ve got a snake in their boot or whatever. The rest of us will just get tired of it, like all the other gimmicky motion control/get up and dance games, and just wanna sit back down and beat the crap out of people in UFC. If anything, I want to move less while gaming. Let me hook up nodes to my skull and control that shit with my thoughts, so I don’t even need to move my hands.

I’m right there with you kids.

Xbox 720: Yay or nay?

What’s double the number 360?  That’s right, it’s 720.  If you couldn’t get that, you should probably review your multiplication tables.  Why is 720 so important here?  Because that’s the newest version of Xbox that the Internet is buzzing about since last week’s E3.

Many online reputable sources, including IGN and PC Magazine, have reported that Microsoft has plans to release their Xbox 720 sometime in 2013.  This discovery should not be surprising since Sony has announced a Playstation 4 and Nintendo Wii U; naturally, Microsoft would want to compete by releasing a new version of their beloved console.

Concept Design *NOT ACTUAL DESIGN

These Xbox 720 plans stemmed from a leaked document on Scribd that is no longer available, since one of the legal companies advising Microsoft recommended the company remove it.  If this document was indeed legitimate, we Xbox-ers can all rejoice and start toasting to this new platform and the slough of games that will entertain us for several more years.

Or should we?

Despite the obvious success of Xbox 360 since its release, I am cautious to immediately line up behind what I’m sure will be thousands of others to throw in a pre-order for the new console.  Why?  Here are the main reasons that are rolling around in my head:

  1. As is the case with technology, sometimes the first version contains faulty hardware or software.  We all remember the Red Ring of Death with many early (and sadly, I’m sure, even recent) models of the Xbox 360, and though I know Microsoft was very good about upholding their warranty, I for one would prefer to avoid having to send in my new 720 within the first year of owning it.  I rely on my console to be the one thing that distracts me from the daily demands of life, and I’d prefer that it do that as I’m playing it rather than as I’m packing it up and shipping it off.
  2. The price… ah, the price.  Rumors say that Microsoft wants to sell the Xbox 720 in a bundle with the second generation Kinect for a total of $299 (plus tax, ‘cause that’s the way life goes).  While that’s a very reasonable price considering my husband and I bought our Xbox 360 for $199 without a Kinect, that’s still a lot of money for someone like me who still has a crapload of student loans under her belt and is also working a part-time job.  Now, this isn’t a deal-breaker, but it does mean I will have to save up to purchase the 720, and should my car break down again, might mean I don’t get the new console right on release day.
  3. Will the 720 be backwards-compatible?  The 360 worked with many original Xbox games, but not all of them.  I can only hope the 720 will work with these original games as well, but there’s no guarantee.  The developers would be frankly idiotic if the 720 was not backwards-compatible with the 360 games, but any games older than that console may have to consider retiring for good.

You may be thinking that I have a very cynical attitude towards the 720 when it hasn’t even been released yet.  Don’t judge just yet; I am an Xbox addict through-and-through, so much so that I worked at GameStop in high school just so I could get free promotional items I’d otherwise have to purchase on eBay.  So here is everything I’m stoked for when I read the reports about the 720’s rumored hardware and software capabilities:

Again: Concept Design *NOT ACTUAL DESIGN
  1. Blu-ray:  I never quite understood the phenomenon of this digital format until I went to my friends’ house and watched Planet Earth on Blu-ray through their Playstation 3.  Then I went home and glared at my 360.  If the 720 is actually going to have a Blu-ray player, I will start buying Blu-ray discs for the first time in my life.  It will be like I have my own high-quality cinema in my home, except not really, because I don’t have surround sound or a screen bigger than 60 inches.  Those are on my list of items to purchase, after the 720, of course.
  2. Virtual-reality goggles:  There’s not a lot of information out about these right now, except that they are currently being labeled as the Fortaleza project and could possibly receive cell radio and 4G and could be mini-hubs integrated with the 720.  This is fascinating because I will FINALLY be able to look like a dork but not care at all because I’ll be wearing frakkin’ virtual reality glasses.
  3. Kinect improvement:  Despite loving the option of having voice and motion-activated games at my fingertips, I hesitated to buy the Kinect solely for the reason I mentioned in #1 above in “bad stuff the 720 could offer.”  What I saw my friends doing on the Kinect looked fun and promising, but there were still a few glitches here and there with its sensor range and ability to correctly communicate your commands to the Xbox.  With the release of the 720, Microsoft is looking to release a Kinect accessory called Kinect V2, which should improve voice recognition, add a four-player tracking system, a more in-depth 3D playing space, and more.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I’d prefer to spend my money on.
More from the ‘leaked’ presentation

There are of course lots of other aspects to take into consideration regarding the Xbox 720, such as the rumors that claim the 720 will not be able to play used games (don’t even get me started on this one; I may need to save this topic for another post).  You also have your gamers who would for some reason prefer to purchase the upcoming Playstation 4 or Wii U, or even those really open-minded gamers who want to own all three.  At this point you’d have to bring in a comparison chart for which console might be best for what reasons.  For me, though, the thought of an Xbox 720 is enough to tide me over for quite a while.  Especially those virtual reality goggles.  ‘Cause that’s going to be awesome.

We’ll have more on the rumored PS4 for you later in the week!

Marvel vs DC: Video Game Showdown

Never to be outdone by the competition, DC and Marvel both premiered some interesting footage at E3 that showed off some of their new games.What’s interesting is they are both fighting games, though pretty different from each other. Let’s start with Marvel, who premiered The Avengers: Battle for Earth. First stop is the teaser trailer:

Continue reading Marvel vs DC: Video Game Showdown

Button Mashing: Max Payne 3, Resident Evil 6 & Mass Effect 3

This is Button Mashing, Grizzly Bomb’s video game news headquarters. Previews, interviews, rumors and all the latest stories relating to the biggest games, all in one place.

I’m The Wozz, and here are the most important things you need to know for the week of January 23rd, 2012:

Max Payne 3 Shows Off Its Targeting/Weapon Systems

Rockstar Games is doing a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes which shed some light on the new mechanics and technology going into the upcoming return to the Max Payne franchise. The second one is out now, and it goes into some of the ways they’ve fine-tuned the shooting mechanics.

Initially I was pretty dismissive of a new Max Payne. I really liked the first two games, they were powerfully story-driven, atmospheric and the gameplay was enjoyable, to boot. But the bullet-time feature that drove the whole franchise, and revolutionized almost every single shooter after it was getting tiresome by Max Payne 2. It’s a very cool thing to see the first 6 or 7 times, but it eventually becomes a pace-breaking crutch, just like the more recent ‘VATS’ mechanic in Fallout.

But these little promos are really starting to work their magic. Rockstar Games are just some of the best storytellers and innovators in the industry, and Max Payne looks like it’s just as wonderfully dark and unique as ever before. Begrudgingly it’s turning me around.

Resident Evil 6 Announcement – (Side Mission)

Resident Evil fans were abuzz last week because promos for RE6 started being reported at retailers. Posters like this one have appeared in stores around the country, point at a November 20th, 2012 release date:

The news comes, as promised, following a viral marketing campaign from NoHopeLeft.com, which posted dozens of mysterious photos and videos pointing to some kind of conspiracy. The blog repeatedly pointed to January 19th, 2012, at which point the official announcement was made.

Following the reveal of Resident Evil 6 came this teaser:

The trailer reveals the return of Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy, and an amazing amount of content for a first teaser.

Skyrim Creation Kit is Almost Here – (Bethesda Blog)

Coming straight from Bethesda themselves, it looks like the biggest game of 2011 is about to give players the opportunity to create their own content in Skyrim. From Bethesda themselves:

For all you PC gamers, you will be happy to know that the Creation Kit and Steam Workshop are nearly ready. Bethesda is currently working with members of Valve and their modding community to do some final testing and are on track for a public release near the end of the month. The current update plan for the PC is to first release updates as “beta” versions through Steam. This is something you’ll be able to opt into through Steam and back-out of if needed.

Meanwhile, the developers are also working on the game’s latest update. Version 1.14 will patch a lot of the game’s hiccups for all 3 platforms, hopefully making it even easier to lose yourself in Tamriel’s Northern-most province. For a list of all the glitches and bugs resolved in the update, they’re all listed on the blog.

Infinity Ward’s Looking Ahead at Next-Gen Call of Duty – (IGN)

IGN shrewdly discovered that a job listing posted on Infinity Ward’s website is requesting a senior animator “with experience in-game development and an interest in working with next-generation technologies.

It’s not a huge surprise that there are plans to make a CoD game for the next iteration of the home consoles, but Sledgehammer Games has reportedly already done the same. IGN speculates as to the possibility of the job offers being connected, but it will be a long time before the full story is announced – Sony and Microsoft have still not made any official statements regarding the release of new hardware.

Mass Effect 3 Will Feature Kinect Voice Control – (IGN)

If there’s one thing hardcore gamers will come together to support, it’s the unanimous disdain for motion controls and extra peripherals like voice commands. The joypad is king to the dedicated player, so fans were kind of disappointed when it was announced that Mass Effect 3 would allow Xbox Kinect users the opportunity to use voice control for certain actions. However, doubters might want to relax because apparently the voice commands work extremely well, and really compliment the gameplay:

Mass Effect 3 uses Kinect only for voice commands – absolutely no motion recognition is supported. Instead, any command that players previously had to pause the action to access, like Biotic powers, ammo swapping or party member management can now be managed by voice. This allows players full access to Shepherd’s suite of combat options without ever pausing the action.

Most important of all is that this Kinect integration just works. When you say sniper rifle, Shepherd switches to his sniper rifle. Saying “Adrenaline Rush” activates the biotic power. Say “James, Move” and your squad mate moves to the location you have pointed out. During the entire demo, I never once had a voice command not register properly.

“Miranda, Disrobe” The one voice command not accepted…

I don’t own an Xbox 360, and while I’m not heartbroken that I’ll be missing out on the voice commands, I’ll admit that bringing up the power menu or designating your squad to move around during combat can be a chore in Mass Effect. If the tech works as accurately and consistently as IGN says, it could resolve one of ME‘s few flaws, and allow for more fluid, better-paced combat.

Mass Effect 3 PC Specs Announced – (Side Mission)

I know all too well the pain of having to scale back a game’s graphics in order to make it work on my rig (Read: mediocre 5 year old laptop). In fact, I had to reduce Mass Effect 2‘s specs to some extent to run it on Steam and still could only play in 45-minute intervals or run the risk of overheating. It sucks to not be well-equipped, is what I’m saying. But thankfully I’ve got the requirements for Mass Effect 3 right here, so you won’t have to worry about whether or not your PC can adequately handle it:

Minimum Spec:

• OS – Windows XP SP3/Vista SP1, Win 7
*Supported chipsets: NVIDIA 7900 or better; ATI X1800 or better. Please note that NVIDIA GeForce 9300, 8500, 8400, and 8300 are below minimum system requirements, as are AMD/ATI Radeon HD3200, HD3300, and HD4350. Updates to your video and sound card drivers may be required.

• CPU – 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (equivalent AMD CPU)
• RAM – 1GB for XP / 2GB RAM for Vista/Win 7
• Disc Drive – 1x speed
• Hard Drive – 15 GB of free space
• Video – 256 MB* (with Pixel Shader 3.0 support)
• Sound – DirectX 9.0c compatible
• DirectX – DirectX 9.0c August 2009 (included)

Recommended Spec:

• OS – Windows XP SP3/Vista SP1, Win 7
• CPU – 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (equivalent AMD CPU)
• RAM – 2GB for XP / 4GB RAM for Vista/Win 7
• Disc Drive – 1x speed
• Hard Drive – 15 GB of free space
• Video – AMD/ATI Radeon HD 4850 512 MB or greater, NVidia GeForce 9800 GT 512 MB or greater
• Sound – DirectX 9.0c compatible

Side Mission also included the fact that in order to run ME3 PC users will have to register and run Origin, both for online and offline use.