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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Sony to launch PSP Thursday

I forgot to mention in my last post Sony is launching the PSP -- their
redefining, hi-def gaming portable -- Thursday (midnight tonight for most

Look for this launch to be pretty impressive -- mainly because Sony
actually knows how to do a product launch and marketing campaign (I've been
in 3 airports in 2 days, and have seen 5 PSP-related adverts, not to
mention the 2 or 3 TV commercials I saw in the hotel sports bar last

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Xbox 360, OXM on Adam's turf, and will the first Xbox die a slow death?

  1. Yeah, I missed last week.
  2. Xbox Next = "Xbox 360"? (And other Xbox 2 news)
  3. Game announcements of note
  4. OXM re-tooled
  5. What'll happen to Xbox Now?
  6. New Halo 2 content on the way?

  1. Yeah, I missed last week.

    • Apologies for not posting last week, even with some significant industry happenings. I was tied up with South by South West (SXSW) happenings, which you can read about here, here (and a little bit here).

  2. Xbox Next = "Xbox 360"? (And other Xbox 2 news)

    • Lotta rumnors looking to give credence to this as the name for the new Xbox. Time'll tell, but it's looking a bit obvious as of now.
    • Also, it may be, with IBM doing the brains behind all 3 next-gen consoles, that all three may be sharing a version of the same architecture. Check out articles on and Anandtech.

  3. Game announcements of note

    • March, April, and May are freakin' amazing on the Xbox front. However, Ubisoft's recent announcements are pretty exciting, because they lay out a strong continuing Xbox Now line-up, and explicit next-gen titles.

      • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Lockdown
      • AA Rise of a Soldier
      • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2 mission pack
      • World War II Squadron (working title)
      • 187 Ride or Die
      • And1
      • New chapter of Brothers In Arms (the new standard in WWII shooters)
      • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 3 (for current and next generation consoles)
      • Peter Jackson's King Kong (for current and next generation consoles)
      • Prince of Persia 3
      • Splinter Cell 4 (for current and next generation consoles)
      • Killing Day (working title) (next generation consoles)
      • An additional unnamed title for Xbox

  4. OXM re-tooled

    • The Official Xbox Magazine (OXM) has tweaked its layout, and added some features. What they'll tell you about is their tightening up of the layout, and the addition of the "Spartan Central" (all things Halo) and "The Business of Xbox" (self-explanatory column). What they don't tell you is the number of adverts in the mag has obscenely skyrocketed (I've never had to flip so many pages without getting to useful content.
    • As an aside, I'm a fan of game journalist Geoff Keighley, who's doing the new Xbox column, even if he is muscling in my tying industry happenings to our giant black box. Besides, his monthly can't keep up with my ... slightly more often than monthly column. Ahem.

  5. What'll happen to Xbox Now?

    • One of the things Geoff Keighley said is a concern about the current Xbox may slow up, with Microsoft moving full production to Xbox next. A lack of first-party support is usually followed swiftly by a lack of third-party support, causing all consoles but Sony's to go the way of the Dreamcast. Of course, I think Keighley wrote his column before the Ubisoft announcement. Heh.

  6. New Halo 2 content on the way?

    • After a Halo 2 expansion pack was revealed on the Korean version of, an updated listing at seems to confirm the existence of a planned Halo 2 "Expansion Pack". Unfortunately, though the XP (hmm ...) was confirmed by, the thing (allegedly to be available via retail or Xbox Live for $19.99), won't be the rest of the single-player game we were shorted. Looks like it'll be a bunch o' multiplayer stuff, which (while still freakin' awesome) isn't the rest of the GAME I ALREADY BOUGHT!

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SOURCES:,,,, IGN, GameInformer, Official XBox Magazine, CNN,, and others.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

GDC Xbox Updates

This week saw the 2005 Game Developer's Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, and we finally get the thaw on some good stuff for Xbox.

  • Microsoft's Chief XNA Architect J Allard talked about the "HD Era" in videogames, which will "enable the rock stars of game development to shake up the old establishment and redefine entertainment as we know it.” "HD" ("always connected, always personalized, and always in high-definition") includes:

    • Outrageous hardware. How 'bout "more than a teraflop of targeted computing performance"? A multicore processor architecture? A custom-designed graphics processor (thanks, ATI Technologies Inc.)?
    • Gamer Cards for an all-in-one look at Xbox Live info (and lets you find gamers with similar skills/interests/lifestyles).
    • A new gamers' Marketplace that'll let you get episodic content, game levels, maps, weapons, vehicles, skins and (da-da-da-daaaa) new community-created content, which leads to ...
    • ... micro-transactions! Game developers/publishers and gamers get to charge as little as they want for content. Got an awesome car for PGR3? sell it for 99-cents.
    • Custom playlists. Supporting custom music in Xbox games is no longer on the shoulders of the developers. MS will give you instant access to your media library, and you can play your music to your games.
    • Even better, custom playlists, Xbox Live Friends list, voice chat, etc. are enabled at the chip level -- Developers can just focus on making games (and not juggling packets).

  • Microsoft announced XNA Studio, an implementation that builds on the Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System to provide a single workflow/framework/file format for game development, marrying content and development. Now content creators, programmers, management and QA get to stay on the same page, speeding development and deployment of top-tier games. XNA studio adds asset management, defect tracking, project automation and work lists, and is supported by the bigs guns of the gamer middleware industry (AGEIA, Games Alias, Avid/Softimage, Discreet, Havok, Creative, etc.).
  • Bungie Studios is doubling its staff for Halo 3. That's great, but give us the rest of FRICKIN' HALO 2!!
  • Meqon Research AB (the physics engine folks behind Duke Nukem Forever), announced they'll be developing the Meqon Game Dynamics system for the next Xbox.
  • Epic Games announced Microsoft Game Studios will use Epic's Unreal Engine 3 technology and tools for games developed/published by MGS.
  • AGEIA is developing it's multithreaded NovodeX Physics SDK (and industry first) to leverage the multicore architecture of the next Xbox.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is looking like it could add to a powerful comic book resurrection in 2005. X-Men: Legends arguably did it by itself in 2004, and now we'v got the Hulk, Batman Begins, Darkwatch, possibly The Darkness for Xbox Next, and Raven Software's own sequel to their X-Men game. Comic book fanboys, rejoice!
  • Bioware (KOTOR I/II, Jade Empire) was recruiting hardcore at GDC. Yay!
  • Sony promises the PS3 is going to be "easy on developers". They may have a ways to go to catch up to Microsoft's integrated development/workflow/framework offering.
  • Nintendo's "Revolution" console will sport built in Wi-Fi, and (like everyone else) an IBM CPU.

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SOURCES:,,,, IGN, GameInformer, Official XBox Magazine, CNN,, and others.

Monday, March 07, 2005

A new way for Adam to Xbox ...

I'm gonna take the blogging format to its egocentric roots this week, and tell you about my new PC and Xboxing set-up.

I finally picked up a projection set up, and this is a great way to do gaming.

  • The projector: Toshiba TDP-S20U Mobile Projector

    • This is a great office projector doing a great job for PC and Xbox gaming. 2000:1 contrast, 14 lumens, supports HDTV and widescreen, and supports two VGA inputs, which lets me have both my PC and Xbox plugged in at the same time, with passthrough. Is it true HDTV? Nope, it's native 800x600, but it scales up to 1600x1200, so it does a great job, at a fraction of a cost of "true" HDTV projectors.

  • The screen: Panoview DS-3100PM 100" Diagonal

    • This is an awesome, cheap screen, with decent quality. I actually had an 84", but returned it (seriously, size matters). Even though it's on the lower end quality wise, and needs a little more light control in the room, it's a solid retractable projection screen that can wall or ceiling mounted, and has various stopping points to support 4:3 or widescreen.

  • The audio: Altec Lansing IM2 (room); Sony MDR-RF975RK (headphones)

    • I got the Altec Lansing IM2 when was having one of their crazy one-day sales. I thought these things would be good for my mobile gaming, but the sound is so great from these little packables that I use them when I'm tired of the tinny on-board speakers on the Toshiba. The Sony's a good rechargable set of wireless headphones, and operates on the 900 MHz band. These things have served me well (without even having problems with cordless phone) until recently, when I swapped out my wireless network for a cheap 108mbps, and the interference is finally a problem. When using my PC, I use the PC speakers, because Sony packaged a decent set with my Vaio, and the Soundblaster Audigy let's swap left and right channels when using the projector. I'd get a surround sound system, but I need a system that lets me swap left and right and front and rear channels, and the systems I'm looking at that do that (*ahem*, Spherex) are too new and too expensive.

  • The cables: Gamelink 400 X - Component Video; NEC ADP-CV1

    • The Monster cables are nuts -- 10-foot, "Nitrogen injected dielectric", 24k gold contact connectors. I bought these at Hastings in a clearance bin for $10 (yeah, they didn't know what they had). The NEC adapter lets me get the component signal mapped to the right VGA pins, to keep the color separation, and the widescreen data.

  • The computer: Sony Vaio PCV-RZ 44G

    • Sony was offering competing Media Center-like PCs, and this box was one of the first of Sony's actual Microsoft Media Center Edition PCs. I've kept the thing upgraded to MCE2005 (thanks to a MSDN Universal License (no thanks to Sony). What makes this box cool is it has both the Window Media Center software, and the Sony software on the same box -- lot o' options.

  • The seating: Desk chair, pear bean bag, or folding camping captains chair

    • The folding camping captains chair is cool. It's uber comfy, and has two cupholders for a beer and a bottled water. Or two beers.

  • The games: (Multiple)

    • I like games that support at least 480p (most Xbox games), but 720p and widescreen is a great experience. Check out HDTV Arcade for a list of Xbox games supporting HDTV. I play Halo 2, X-Men: Legends, ESPN NHL 2K5, MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf, and Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy. Halo 2 is cool, because it supports widescreen and horizontal splitscreen. X-Men Legends just rocks at 720p and widescreen.

OK, so my plan isn't to brag about my setup for the sake of bragging about it. Maybe. A little.

Anyway, it's a lot of fun to Xbox bigscreen. Besides, if you're on my mailing list, you're invited to play ... ;-)

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Friday, March 04, 2005

Xbox deals at Fry's/

Let's call this a public service announcement ...

The first two of the March-to-May "Christmas in spring" Xbox releases hit stores this week, and are on sale at brink-and-mortar Fry's, and its online component. Both games are only $37.99 at the store (for the weekend), and $39.99 online.

  • Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 -- This is a game that looks to take WWII shooters to a whole new level. Created by Texas-based Gearbox Software as their first original IP for Ubisoft, this game looks to fall in the "important to play" category of games. Though not associated with the phenomenal HBO series Band of Brothers, this game is a lot like playing the series. Keep in mind, this is the game that allegedly stopped Steven Spielberg in his tracks at last year's GDC (Spielberg was producer of both Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan).

  • Star Wars Republic Commando -- Love Star Wars? Hate the new trilogy? Looking for something a little darker, a little more violent, a little something that can get the taste of Jar Jar out of your mouth (turns out he doesn't taste like chicken ...)?

    How 'bout Star Wars Republic Commando -- an accessible squad-based first-person shooter that takes a nod from Halo, and adds squad mates that don't have brain-dead AI.

Also, I noticed that Hip Interactive's Bluetooth wireless controller/headset combo is out, and is only $60 at Fry's/ Given that I knocked my Fat Tire over again the other night while getting my tail kicked on Halo 2, I've been waiting for a decent wireless Live combo implementation. Dunno if this is it, but the price is cheaper than I can get a decent headset for. I haven't been able to find a reputable review, but when I do, I'll post an update.

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