We say “Project Natal,” you say “Xbox motion control camera doohickey,” right? In theory, it’s a gamer’s geekiest dream come true. You throw a punch, and your character on screen follows suit. Buttons? What are those? Soon, you could be hugging Gordon Freeman’s crowbar and fending off headcrabs with your own two hands. Fallout 3 production director Ashley Cheng, however, thinks Natal’s true potential lies far outside the realm of videogames.
“Seeing it in action, I was totally blown away by it. It seems wasted on games, really. Microsoft should open the NATAL API up like Apple does with the iPhone/iPad. Let anyone make a NATAL ‘app.’ I bet someone makes a killer app that has nothing to do with gaming,” the Bethesda developer wrote on his blog.
A couple weeks ago, we would’ve laughed at this. Then we saw Iron Man 2. Mark our words: if someone makes an app like that, they’ll become a millionaire. Even if we have to buy the app one million times ourselves.
Have you turned on your Xbox 360 console today? If so, you may have noticed that you're now able to save data to removable USB memory drives, just as Microsoft promised a couple of weeks ago.
In early May, you'll be able to snag Microsoft's own-branded memory sticks from outlets like Gamestop, but the question is whether you'd even want to in the first place. According to Gamestop's pre-order pricing, an 8GB memory stick will run you $40, while you can expect to pay $70 for a 16GB flash drive. The good news here is that you can use any USB flash drive, "so long as you're aware that the maximum amount of data moved or stored is 16GB on any one device," Kotaku reports.
Microsoft has been aggressively upping the storage ante for its Xbox 360 console of late. Two weeks ago, the Redmond outfit released a 250GB standalone hard drive with transfer kit after previously saying the company had no plans to do so. Could Blu-ray be next? Don't hold your breath.
If one were to anthropomorphize contemporary computer navigation technology, it would be a grave-bound man living in constant fear ever since Minority Report's release. However, most people would agree that the gesture-based interface depicted in the film has lost a bit of its novelty. It is no longer as challenging an undertaking as it seemed back when the movie first hit theaters.
Using the movie as an inspiration, two MIT students, Tony Hyun Kim and Nevada Sanchez, have been working on something they call the Glove Mouse. It is basically a pair of gloves that lets the user control a computer using just hand gestures.
We've been hearing rumors that Microsoft would make available a standalone 250GB hard drive for its Xbox 360 console, even though it was just over a month ago that Xbox Live Product Manager Aaron Greenber denied any plans to offer the larger unit outside of special bundles. Greenbrier apparently didn't get the memo.
"Make sure you have enough space for the content you love," Microsoft announced on the Xbox 360 Dashboard. "The 250GB Hard Drive is the perfect storage option for your Xbox 360 Console, with plenty of space to hold all your downloaded games, movies, television shows, music, and more. Purchase one today at a participating retailer or visit http://www.xbox.com/accessories for more information."
We did just that, and sure enough, the standalone drive is now available for purchase. The 250GB upgrade comes with a data transfer kit so you won't have to worry about losing your saved data, and is also packed with HD game demos, videos, and an assortment of Xbox LIVE Arcade game trials - in other words, console crapware.
Th 250GB standalone drive sells for $130, while the 120GB has been cut to $100.
This generation of gaming consoles is all about minor hardware revisions. The Sony PS3 has already slimmed down and dropped a few hundred dollars from its price, but now it looks like the Xbox 360 may be up next. A leaked pic of what purports to be a new motherboard for the console was posted to a Chinese forum. The board is significantly smaller which hopefully means a more svelte console.
The board looks much smaller than the current version, and appears to have a CPU/GPU combo chip. There’s also an extra SATA port present. We’re apt to believe the authenticity of this board seeing as Microsoft is currently hiring a Motherboard Design Engineer to “implement and verify the motherboard and other various sub-system boards that make up the XBOX 360 product line.”
We don’t know if this hardware revision will come with a price cut, but don’t bet on it. The Xbox managed to beat out the Wii in monthly sales for the first time last month. The PS3 had no choice but to drop in price to be competitive. Would a smaller, cooler console with a few extra goodies get you to drop some cash for a new 360?
In what ranked as a poor month in overall console sales, analyst group NPD reports Microsoft's Xbox 360 outsold Nintendo's Wii console in February. In doing so, the Xbox 360 claimed the top spot in U.S. monthly sales, a feat it hasn't achieved in over two years.
Despite Microsoft's strong showing, it was a pretty bad month for consoles. Combined sales for software, hardware, and peripherals came out to $1.26 billion, with console sales slumping 20 percent to $426 million.
"Honestly, I had expected the industry to perform somewhat better this month," said Anita Frazier, a games analyst at NPD.
Not surprisingly, Nintendo's DS dominated the handheld gaming space, selling 613,200 units compared to Sony selling 133,400 PlayStation Portable units.
As for the games people are playing, Take 2's "Bioshock 2" topped the sales chart with 750,000 copies across all platforms, and 562,900 for the Xbox 360. "New Super Mario Bros." came in second with 555,600 units, and "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" slipped into third place with 667,100 units, now the third best selling game of all time with lifetime sales approaching 10 million units.
Paris-based Darkworks is wandering the floor at GDC making some pretty big promises. They say their upcoming TriOvis for Games SDK will allow developers to build in 3D support to 2D games. The real benefit would be that it would not require the purchase of a 3D capable display.
Darkworks is saying that all the 3D-ification happens in the software and the special 3D glasses. Apparently, this means those not wearing glasses would see a regular 2D image without the blurring of a 3D image. The technology will be available for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
If this proves to be a feasible option, we may see DLC for existing games that enable 3D with the TriOvis system. Darkworks has said that the process of adding TriOvis to an existing game is very simple, taking anywhere from a few days to a week. We are really floored by the possibilities here. Let’s hope this is for real.
Microsoft's TechEd conference doesn't typically get a lot of news coverage around here given it's IT focus, but keynote presenter Eric Rudder was showing off some pretty interesting new Windows phone features which are worthy of note. During his presentation he was able to show off not just a cross platform game that worked across the Xbox 360, PC, and mobile phone, but also how he was able to keep all of his gaming sessions in perfect sync.
Its hard to imagine it will ever be much more than a gimmick when it comes to gaming, but it might have some interesting applications for everyday productivity tools as well. After all, finding a mechanic that works with a gamepad, mouse and keyboard, and even a touch screen is a bit of an unrealistic proposition. And before you ask, no, it won't play Crysis. One thing is clear; Microsoft is taking it's new phone platform very seriously, and is obviously hoping to use it as a hook in the future to help keep you in the MS ecosystem.
Hit the jump to check out the You Tube demonstration, and take careful note of how hard he had to try to say "Windows Phone Series". Yep, he forgot the 7! Guess even Microsoft can't remember its own broken English product names.
Holy moly, talk about a kick ass giveaway. 2K Sports this week announced it would give away an unprecedented cash prize to the tune of $1 million to whoever is the first person to pitch a verified perfect game in Major League Baseball 2K10.
"To compete, gamers must play in MLB Today mode, select from any of the available matchups, and then choose the option to participate in the ‘Major League Baseball 2K10 contest’ that will automatically default to the proper gameplay settings according to the official gameplay rules," 2K Sports states. "Entries must be recorded via camera or digital video recorder in compliance with guidelines provided by 2K in the Official Rules, and all eligible entrants must submit a copy of their recording in its entirety for verification. Submissions will only be accepted on DVD."
There are a handful of other rules you must follow, such as not being allowed to make any pitching substitutions, pause the game, or wait 60 seconds or more in between pitches. But should you be the first to get through nine innings with no walks, no hits, and no runs, you could end up a millionaire, at least until the tax man takes his cut.
Note that this contest only applies to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions.
Microsoft's Project Natal looks to make air guitar a bona fide gaming skill, as well as all kinds of gestures applicable to a "controller-free gaming and entertainment experience." But before Natal can get to that point, developers have to resolve a potentially crippling issue with latency, says news and rumor site Fudzilla.
Citing sources who "wish to remain nameless," Fudzilla says Natal's sensor-based control scheme could suffer from lag as much as .08 seconds to .12 seconds, most often hovering around .10 seconds. That might not sound like much, but it's enough to create tracking problems for fast paced titles.
Keep in mind that Natal hasn't shipped yet so there's still plenty of time to iron this and any other bugs out. Playing the part of Pessimistic Patty, Fudzilla says even while development continues, "it is doubtful that [the lag issue] will be able to totally be eliminated." Our take? We'll reserve judgment until the thing actually ships.