Microsoft’s Project Natal, the 3D sensing camera for the Xbox 360 I mentioned last night, is already resulting in some interesting applications. Lionhead’s Peter Molyneux shows off what they’ve been working on in the few months they’ve had access to Microsoft’s new toy. A fully interactive computer generated character called Milo:
Peter’s a legend among gamers for having invented several genres as well as some of the most beloved games of all time, but he tends to over-hype things just a bit. No doubt the demo is impressive, but when you consider the limitations of the Xbox’s processing power and storage you have to wonder if this is little more than a novelty. It’s one thing to simulate, say, a racing game. It’s another to simulate spending an afternoon with a virtual best friend. He’s certainly incorrect in stating that no science fiction writer has ever dreamed of this possibility as I’ve read several books that have proposed similar ideas. Hell, this isn’t even the first attempt at providing a virtual interactive friend on a computer. There have been dozens of such programs over the years stretching all the way back to Little Computer People on the Commodore 64. All of them were fun for a few hours and then the limitations of their programming became apparent. I have little doubt Milo would be the same though, again, it’s certainly the most immersive of the simulations I’ve seen so far.
I also find it somewhat ironic that Project Milo attempts to simulate exactly what a kid would be missing out on by sitting in front of the TV playing with their Xbox 360. Specifically the chance to go outside and play with a real live friend. I’m no Luddite by any stretch of the imagination, but for all the gaming I did growing up I also spent a fair amount of time outside with friends exploring the neighborhood and getting dirty. Whatever amount of interactivity Milo may have will always pale in comparison to the real thing. At least for the foreseeable future. Still, Milo does present a tantalizing glimpse of what the future may hold.
This year’s E3 kicked off today and Microsoft was the first to hold their keynote event wherein they made it clear they plan to expand the Xbox 360 in ways that may draw in some of the folks who find Nintendo’s Wii so appealing. They introduced a new 3D motion sensing/voice/facial recognition add-on for the 360 that they claim will make you into the controller. In essence it provides the same full body interaction the Nintendo Wii does and more without the need for any controller at all. Check it:
If the final product does half of what they’re promising in that video it may very well give the Wii a run for its money. That’ll be especially true if they package it in as a bundle with some systems. If it manages to pull off everything in that video it’ll be an amazing bit of technology.
Personally I don’t find that system of control all that appealing for the same reasons I don’t enjoy the Wii all that much. I do look forward to hearing many stories of how Xbox 360 owners—in a repeat of what new Wii owners went through—ending up with a lot of broken TV sets from jumping around and kicking at them. With the Wii it was a matter of people losing their grip on their Wiimotes and chucking them through the screen. With this new controller for the Xbox it’ll undoubtedly be shoes flung off while kicking soccer balls or some such thing.
Found via Boing Boing Offworld.
Every now and then you’ll hear some game publisher bemoaning piracy on the PC and threatening to go console only as though that would stop piracy in its tracks. Shame there’s no truth in that claim:
Code of Bethesda’s highly-anticipated follow-up to Oblivion, Fallout 3, has already been leaked onto the internet and is available on various torrent sites.
The official game isn’t due for release until October 28 in the US and October 31 in Europe, but the Xbox 360 version of the game has been hacked and at the time of writing had well over 2000 people downloading the 6.52GB file on one site alone.
The hacked version of the game would only be playable on an illegally modified Xbox 360.
It is true that the number of modded 360s is probably pretty low and acts somewhat as a barrier against the piracy being too extensive, but piracy still happens even on consoles. If you can make it they can break it and they’ll probably do it long before you ship the game.
Microsoft is still having problems with their Xbox 360s and the dreaded Red Ring of Death that indicates you’re now the proud owner of a plastic brick. Some estimates put the failure rate for the Xbox 360 at around 33% which means there’s a good chance you or someone you know has experienced the terror of the Red Ring of Death, possibly more than once. If you’re on of the unlucky then the folks over at SplitReason have come up with the perfect t-shirt to help you to laugh away the pain:
Well, at least until your 360 dies again.
Considering the glee with which Sony stuck it to Microsoft with repeated price drops during the hey day of the Xbox vs PS2 it must be quite satisfying for Microsoft to be able to turn the tables these days. They just announced their first price drop for the Xbox 360:
“The fact that we have been able to keep our launch price longer than any other console while retaining our leadership position demonstrates that consumers believe in the value of Xbox 360,” said Mitch Koch, corporate vice president, Global Retail Sales and Marketing Group, Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. “On the eve of the best holiday games lineup ever and the launch of ‘Madden NFL 08,’ there has never been a better time to jump into Xbox 360.”
Xbox 360 will enhance the value of its entire family of consoles beginning on Aug. 8. At a new ERP of $349.99 (U.S.), Xbox 360 offers an unsurpassed experience right out of the box with a 20GB hard drive, wireless controller, Xbox 360 headset, and more. For those looking for the ultimate value and the freedom to customize their console as they see fit, Xbox 360 Core System now has an ERP of $279.99 (U.S.). Xbox 360 Core System provides everything needed to start gaming while giving consumers the ability to add new features and accessories they want. Dressed in black and equipped with a 120GB hard drive, Xbox 360 Elite will be priced at an ERP of $449.99 (U.S.) for those who want the premium games and entertainment experience. In anticipation of this year’s largest blockbuster game launch, the Xbox 360 Halo® 3 Special Edition Console will hit store shelves in September with an ERP of $399.99 (U.S.). Featuring an authentic Spartan green-and-gold finish, this console will include a matching Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, Xbox 360 20GB hard drive, Xbox 360 Headset, an Xbox 360 Play and Charge Kit, and more.
It helps that this is a real price drop as opposed to Sony’s 60GB PS3 clearance sale. Still not quite cheap enough for me to rush out and buy one, but it’s getting closer. If you’ve been holding off in hopes of a price drop then your wait has been worth it.