E3 2012 - Most Significant Happenings from Microsoft's Xbox 360 Showing

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My Xbox bookSo, as the first day winds down, I thought I would toss out a few impressions of what I thought were the most significant announcements from the early part of the first day, which focused on Microsoft and the Xbox 360. Next, we should expect to see Sony's stuff and then Nintendo's major Wii U announcements, both of which I'll also discuss.

Smart Glass
Smart Glass is Microsoft's multi-screen platform that allows Android, iOS, and Windows smartphones and tablets to interact directly with the Xbox 360. This is similar to what the Wii U's tablet controller will offer and something that Sony hinted at, but has yet to implement, with Vita and PS3 integration. Microsoft's offering is the only generic variant of the technology, though, which, while having a higher cost of entry, is also the only one that is likely to work with technology you already have. Examples of Microsoft's tech includes watching a movie stored on your iPad on your TV, or controlling the upcoming Internet Explorer from your Android phone. Game integration possibilities include calling football plays on your tablet that get implemented in the Madden game on your Xbox 360. This could also mean something like a map on your tablet that syncs perfectly with your onscreen actions on your 360, say in Skyrim. The obvious downside though with this is having to put your smartphone or tablet down to pick up the controller and vice-versa, but certainly for media control, it's welcome.

Internet Explorer
Microsoft has finally reversed their long held stance against it and decided to add a Web browser to their console. It was technically worth them waiting because with some combination of Kinect and Smart Glass, the experience might actually be far more usable than we've seen on competing platforms to date. I still have my doubts about it being as good as a quality PC or tablet experience, though, but at least the potential is there.

More Entertainment Services
NBA, NHL, Nickelodeon, etc., to add to the already large number of audio-video streaming apps and services. Overall, this puts the Xbox 360 ahead as the most complete set top box package, if not necessarily the most cost effective.

The Usual Types of Game Announcements
Halo 4, new Madden, Call of Duty, Dance Central 3, etc. Nothing particularly notable here per se, though many of these do seem to have some type of interesting Kinect and/or Smart Glass integration. I think we're also seeing the current platforms maxed out audio-visually, so hopefully fine tuning of the gameplay can now be focused on for the remainder of Microsoft's and Sony's generation.

By the way, for those who say that Microsoft's presser was "boring," "dissapointing," etc., keep in mind this is the last real e3 for a very, very long generation, and there's no way either Sony or Microsoft could possibly compete with a new console on the Nintendo side, so all that's really left is to do more of the same and try to further expand the appeal of the existing systems to the mass market. It will be Microsoft's and Sony's time to lay it all on the line in e3 2013 for their new consoles holiday of that year.

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Bill Loguidice
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Wreckateer - could be lots of fun for fans of action siege games

One of the more interesting Microsoft games I thought was Wreckateer, which is a Kinect-powered take-off on castle siege games (which yes, includes Angry Birds and those variants, but obviously goes back to the earliest days of gaming).

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retroc64
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Lame. I wonder if it would be

Lame. I wonder if it would be talking about if it wasn't for Kinect.

Bill Loguidice
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To each their own
retroc64 wrote:

Lame. I wonder if it would be talking about if it wasn't for Kinect.

I've heard lots of dismissal of it, but it looks fun to me. Certainly Kinect and the pull back technique intrigue me. Reminds me of an Odyssey2 favorite of mine, Smithereens!

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retroc64
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I worry about gimmicks like

I worry about gimmicks like the Kinect. I worry that is turns the focus away from fun to novelty. The joystick has worked for 20+ years, and I don't know any good reason why we would need anything else - at least for now. Anyway I don't think you can fit another game into your wonderful game room :-)

Bill Loguidice
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It can also be one in the same
retroc64 wrote:

I worry about gimmicks like the Kinect. I worry that is turns the focus away from fun to novelty. The joystick has worked for 20+ years, and I don't know any good reason why we would need anything else - at least for now. Anyway I don't think you can fit another game into your wonderful game room :-)

Novelty has always been a part of gaming. Today's novelty evolves into tomorrow's refined technology. While things like motion controls, touchscreens, motion tracking, etc., may not be everyone's cup of tea, just imagine the possibilities as the technology continues to improve. It can't improve and we can't see the possibilities if it's not being used, which is why tech like the Kinect is so important. Also, I'd say it's very easy to argue that while yes, something like the Kinect has a preponderance of novelty over fun, what does manage to be fun is very fun, and really only possible with that type of technology. It's best to keep an open mind with all this stuff and not just dismiss it out of hand if the initial attempts are a bit on the rough side.

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retroc64
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I disagree
Bill Loguidice wrote:
retroc64 wrote:

I worry about gimmicks like the Kinect. I worry that is turns the focus away from fun to novelty. The joystick has worked for 20+ years, and I don't know any good reason why we would need anything else - at least for now. Anyway I don't think you can fit another game into your wonderful game room :-)

Novelty has always been a part of gaming. Today's novelty evolves into tomorrow's refined technology. While things like motion controls, touchscreens, motion tracking, etc., may not be everyone's cup of tea, just imagine the possibilities as the technology continues to improve. It can't improve and we can't see the possibilities if it's not being used, which is why tech like the Kinect is so important. Also, I'd say it's very easy to argue that while yes, something like the Kinect has a preponderance of novelty over fun, what does manage to be fun is very fun, and really only possible with that type of technology. It's best to keep an open mind with all this stuff and not just dismiss it out of hand if the initial attempts are a bit on the rough side.

You are way off on this. I do understand technology changes, but it shouldn't be forced. The Wii U is a perfect example. Look at the special Batman Asylum trailer. There is nothing important about this version, even with the features added especially for the controller.

I don't mind specialized controllers, they just shouldn't be default. Have a standard controller, then add things like the Wii fitness board and games specializing with it. If it is the greatest thing since sliced bread, then everyone will adopt it eventually.

Bill Loguidice
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Seriously?
retroc64 wrote:

You are way off on this. I do understand technology changes, but it shouldn't be forced. The Wii U is a perfect example. Look at the special Batman Asylum trailer. There is nothing important about this version, even with the features added especially for the controller.

I don't mind specialized controllers, they just shouldn't be default. Have a standard controller, then add things like the Wii fitness board and games specializing with it. If it is the greatest thing since sliced bread, then everyone will adopt it eventually.

No, I don't think I am. Again, in some instances, specialized controllers are superior to traditional controls. That's a fact. Obviously some game types and some gameplay gets forced on to traditional controls and alternative controls that has no business being so. That's the same with porting a game to the wrong type of platform. I can't think of any reasonably well supported alternative control type that doesn't offer a superior experience in specific cases to traditional controls. Alternative controls aren't perfect, but then neither are traditional controls. All have a reasonable expectation of being improved over time through use and trial and error and maturation of the underlying technology. That's the promise and the reason why we NEED alternative controls to be in the mix with all the traditional stuff.

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retroc64
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I still disagree
Bill Loguidice wrote:
retroc64 wrote:

You are way off on this. I do understand technology changes, but it shouldn't be forced. The Wii U is a perfect example. Look at the special Batman Asylum trailer. There is nothing important about this version, even with the features added especially for the controller.

I don't mind specialized controllers, they just shouldn't be default. Have a standard controller, then add things like the Wii fitness board and games specializing with it. If it is the greatest thing since sliced bread, then everyone will adopt it eventually.

No, I don't think I am. Again, in some instances, specialized controllers are superior to traditional controls. That's a fact. Obviously some game types and some gameplay gets forced on to traditional controls and alternative controls that has no business being so. That's the same with porting a game to the wrong type of platform. I can't think of any reasonably well supported alternative control type that doesn't offer a superior experience in specific cases to traditional controls. Alternative controls aren't perfect, but then neither are traditional controls. All have a reasonable expectation of being improved over time through use and trial and error and maturation of the underlying technology. That's the promise and the reason why we NEED alternative controls to be in the mix with all the traditional stuff.

Again, I agree to a point. It shouldn't be forced by a new game system. The Wii's failure includes the default "radical" controls. No serious game wanted to support it. You could say it was the 480p, but it is easy for a game to port to a lower graphic standard. It is harder to support a completely new controller.

Now if the Wii default controller was a standard GameCube controller, and the magic wand controllers were optionally, the system wouldn't have done well at first, but would have done better over time. I am afraid they are doing the same thing again, and soon they will only be a video game developer only.

Bill Loguidice
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Huh?
retroc64 wrote:

Again, I agree to a point. It shouldn't be forced by a new game system. The Wii's failure includes the default "radical" controls. No serious game wanted to support it. You could say it was the 480p, but it is easy for a game to port to a lower graphic standard. It is harder to support a completely new controller.

Now if the Wii default controller was a standard GameCube controller, and the magic wand controllers were optionally, the system wouldn't have done well at first, but would have done better over time. I am afraid they are doing the same thing again, and soon they will only be a video game developer only.

I don't know what you mean about being forced to buy a new game system. This generation has been going since 2005, with two new control types introduced only a few years back. It's time for new systems. This is the first generation where you can well and truly say we've maxed it out and it times to move on since WE'RE ready, not the manufacturers forcing us.

As for the Wii thing, well, your wish is Nintendo's command with the Wii U. The default, stock controller has all the traditional controls you could ever want, the touchscreen and motion stuff and the other stuff built-in is just an enhancement. It's also in HD, so it will be properly supported. Except for - in my opinion - needing to have just a bit more horsepower, it really sounds like an ideal system at this point.

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retroc64
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Yep
Bill Loguidice wrote:
retroc64 wrote:

Again, I agree to a point. It shouldn't be forced by a new game system. The Wii's failure includes the default "radical" controls. No serious game wanted to support it. You could say it was the 480p, but it is easy for a game to port to a lower graphic standard. It is harder to support a completely new controller.

Now if the Wii default controller was a standard GameCube controller, and the magic wand controllers were optionally, the system wouldn't have done well at first, but would have done better over time. I am afraid they are doing the same thing again, and soon they will only be a video game developer only.

I don't know what you mean about being forced to buy a new game system. This generation has been going since 2005, with two new control types introduced only a few years back. It's time for new systems. This is the first generation where you can well and truly say we've maxed it out and it times to move on since WE'RE ready, not the manufacturers forcing us.

As for the Wii thing, well, your wish is Nintendo's command with the Wii U. The default, stock controller has all the traditional controls you could ever want, the touchscreen and motion stuff and the other stuff built-in is just an enhancement. It's also in HD, so it will be properly supported. Except for - in my opinion - needing to have just a bit more horsepower, it really sounds like an ideal system at this point.

I was talking about the current gen. The Wii forced you to play with alternative controllers. You didn't have a choice. You bought the system, and that is what you got. Bad, bad move. This never works.

Look at Kinect. It is optional, in the sense that developers don't have to support it if they don't want to. They know that all XBox's come with standard controls. That is why the XBox, and to some degree, the Kinect is doing well.

I agree with the Wii U. They do kind of have it all in one controller. The controls do look bulky, but hey - it might work.

I love your wisdom on retro and modern gaming. I consider you an expert in the field. Maybe you are right, but my gut feeling tells me differently.

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