Tag Archives: Xbox

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.

What Modern Marriages Could Learn from Master Chief and Cortana

Once upon a time, a man and woman met and started dating.  It was nothing less than bliss.  After feeling their hearts jump in glee at the sight of each other for several months, they decided to take the next step and a few more months down the road they were married.  But now it’s been a year and they don’t feel bliss or hearts jumping anymore.  Now this person they’re married to has faults and issues, and they want out.

Master Chief and Cortana by MikkeSWE
Courtesy of MikkeSWE on deviantART

This probably sounds very familiar, as divorce is rampant in our society.  There are many psychological and sociological reasons behind this phenomenon, such as how modern entertainment, media, and the consumer market create products that continually push the limits on human focus and create in us shorter and shorter attention spans.  However, I’m not here to explain the factors leading to divorce.  I’m here to explain how one of the most-loved video games of all time could benefit the one you most love.

When Bungie created the Halo universe, they obviously paid close attention to developing the relationship between Master Chief and the AI Cortana.  Their relationship is so close that gamers have speculated as to its true nature; are Master Chief and Cortana somehow in love, or are they just an incredible team? Fans have even made art of, well, a sexual nature between the Spartan and AI.  Despite that impossibility, the relationship of these two characters exudes beneficial principles that we regular humans would do well to apply to our own real-life marriages.

First of all, I’d dare anyone to challenge the trust between Master Chief and Cortana.  She gives him directions on where to go and what needs to get done, and he rarely questions her.  When he does question her, it’s usually because he is not able to comprehend everything her computer brain has access to and can process, like when she told him to go stop Captain Keyes in Halo: Combat Evolved.

Ultimately, though when Lord Hood questions if Master Chief trusts in Cortana in Halo 3, Chief responds definitively, “Sir. Yes, sir.”  No hesitation whatsoever.  Trust is a difficult feature to develop in a relationship, but the only thing that ever helps it is more trust, never doubts.  I can only recall one instance of doubt between Chief and Cortana, and that’s where she expresses her surprise at him coming back to save her from the tortures of the Gravemind.

Speaking of Cortana’s torture, this situation presented a more particular angle of the duo’s relationship that we could apply to our marriages today, and that is the virtues of dedication and loyalty.  Master Chief could have left Cortana behind entirely, letting her rot away her final years as a digital being at the whims of the Gravemind.  However, he explicitly made a promise to her that he would find her, and he followed through on that promise:

Remember those wedding vows you took?  Now think about seriously holding to them like Master Chief did when he kept his promise to Cortana, risking his life to save her.

Finally, notice that Cortana warns of her brokenness after being tortured by the Gravemind.  She says, “So much of me is wrong – out of place.  It may be too late.”  Her mental issues (or broken coding?) don’t put off Master Chief in the slightest.  Instead, he says, “You know me.”  He again demonstrates his willingness to stay by her side and help her no matter what state of mind and body she is in.  How many divorces in this world could be diverted if we were just as willing to overlook the faults of our spouses, or aid them in getting past these faults as much as possible to become better people, and ultimately, a better couple?  All of us are broken in some way or another, and if we stopped expecting perfection, maybe we’d see more of the support shown by Master Chief to Cortana in our marriages, as well.

I’m sure that you could pull more positive examples from this Spartan and his AI the more you dig into their interactions.  Despite their relationship in the video games being on a more platonic level than a marriage calls for, this does not mean they do not give us a wonderful example to follow in the areas they succeed in, such as trust, loyalty, and support.  Maybe if we followed Master Chief and Cortana’s principles, we’d see a lot more couples stay together for far longer than Halo games have been in existence.

Cortana in Master Chief's hand

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: Xbox 720, Wii U, The Darkness II & God of War 4

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. Here are the most important things you need to know for the week of January 30th, 2012:

‘Xbox 720’ Chipset in Production – (IGN)

Rumors and hearsay has become cold, hard fact: “Xbox 720”, or at least its core ‘System on a Chip’, is already being developed. According to Fudzilla:

Recent speculation that the new main System on a Chip (SoC) for the Next Xbox began production is apparently accurate; the SoC did indeed start production in late December of 2011. Sources tell us that the code name for the chip is Oban, and it is being produced by both IBM and Global Foundries for Microsoft.

Fudzilla’s report continued with a lot of important (and partially incorrect) combinations of words and numbers which are certainly important and made no sense to someone as tech-stupid as myself:

The power behind the next Xbox will be a PowerPC CPU that is married to an ATI Southern Islands GPU, or modified 7000 series…”

However, IGNcorrected the initial mistake with the following update:

…mass production of the system’s GPU will indeed begin by the end of 2012 but will not, however, be based on AMD’s 7000 series Southern Islands GPU. Instead, the processor will be derived from the 6000 series, which was introduced last year. More specifically, it will be akin to the Radeon HD 6670, which offers support for DirectX11, multidisplay output, 3D and 1080p HD output.”

They went on to summarize it for the layman (Thank you IGN. Sincerely: The layman):

Continue reading Button Mashing: Xbox 720, Wii U, The Darkness II & God of War 4