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Category — New Tech

PS3 vs. Xbox 360 Head to Head, PS3 Reviews and other Miscellanea

Categories: "Inside Baseball"New Tech

Game sites are doing head-to-head comparisons of the two Next Gen systems. They take games developed for both systems, run them side-by-side and create either side-by-side videos or pictures where you can see the differences:

Other PS3 Video Issues:

  • Joystiq (Motorstorm – What Sony promised at E3 2005 and what it delivered)
  • Joystiq (PS1 and PS2 video quality is worse on the PS3 vs. original Xbox games which look better when played on the Xbox 360)


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Microsoft Launches XNA Game Studio Express and Creators Club

Categories: New Business ModelsNew TechStartup Game Developer Issues

I wrote about this earlier when the XNA Game Studio Express Beta 2 was launched. This should be of interest for all budding game developers. All the tools you need to develop Windows and Xbox 360 games are available for free here. XNA developers can become members of the XNA Developers Club to access other XNA developers’ games and share their games with like-minded developers for $99 U.S. a year. Frankly, this is a terrific bargain and a wonderful opportunity for budding game developers to try their hand game development. Click here to get started.

More XNA Information: Gamasutra |Gamasutra 2 (interview with MS Rep) | Red Herring | XBox 365 | GameIndustry.biz 1 | GameIndustry.biz 2 (DNA of XNA)| NFHQ | XBox Solution | Digital Trends | Microsoft Press Release | Joystiq | GameSpot | CNet | Daily Tech

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World Series of Video Games to Debut on CBS – December 30

Categories: New Business ModelsNew Tech

CBS Sports is about to launch the World Series of Video Games on December 30. The New York Times indicates that Counter Strike 1.6, Halo 2 and Quake 4 will be among the games played.

Dale's Comment: I was initially stoked about this announcement. I'd love to learn some new Halo 2 moves from Fatal1ty. That is, until I got to the fine print. Apparently CBS will only show snippets of actual game play because the content of the competitions are too violent for prime-time television.  How crazy is this!?  While I gather getting network coverage IS a step forward, this is the same-old, same-old network thinking! Who would want to watch something called the "World Series of Video Games" without being able to watch the actual competitions in their entirety!  Clearly network TV is not the right venue for this. This will have to head on over to cable in order for it to be successful in the long term.     

Sources: New York Times | IGN | Next Generation | Team Xbox | Business Wire | GameDaily.biz | Kotaku

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Success with Video Streaming to my Xbox 360

Categories: New Tech

For years I have been looking for a convenient way to stream my videos (movies, video clips, video game trailers etc.) from PCs on my home network to my HDTV in the living room. Today I have had my first success using the new video streaming functionality built into the most recent XBox 360 Dashboard software update.

This Arne360 blog entry describes the basics of setting up the new Windows Media Player 11, sharing media directories with the 360 and setting up the 360 so it can access content from a home network. That was all well and good, but a continuing basic problem was that the Microsoft video streaming solution only supports their proprietary (but still very good) .wmv codec. Most of my video content is not in the .wmv format – or at least it wasn’t.

Today I stumbled across this Joystiq post about the freeware transcoding program called VLC (download here) (official website). This program is butt-simple to use. Drag any video in any format (or at least any format I use) onto the batch file, and it automatically transcodes the video into .wmv format. When done, the file will be accessible and playable through the Xbox 360 with no further effort. It’s THAT simple.

All is not peaches and cream though. There’s good news and bad news.

First the good news:

  • Once set up, it works like a charm.
  • Transcoding with VLC is easy-peasy.
  • The picture quality is as good as the source – in this case, most of my videos/movies look fantastic when played back through the Xbox 360.
  • All my .wmv videos are easily and instantly available for playback through the 360 – no more DVD flipping.

Now the bad news:

  • All the videos (even when sorted in different directories on my PC) end up being tossed into ONE long directory when listed on the Xbox 360. In my case there’s some 140 .wmv videos, video snippets, tutorials, video poscasts, demos, movies, trailers etc. on my computer. When I access them through the 360, they all show up in one long alphabetical list.
  • There is no way, that I can find so far, to separate them into sub-folders on the 360. This is notable because when I view my pictures or access my music through the 360, they are sorted into directories as they are on my PC. This anomaly is quite odd.
  • The fast forward and rewind seems to be busted. When I try to fast forward and rewind the .wmv files when watching them on the 360, they just stutters as if I was playing the videos back in frame-by-frame mode – there certainly is no “fast” movement forward or back.
  • I can only play and pause – though pressing the chapter forward and back buttons does seem to move me forward and back in indeterminant and varying time increments backwards and forwards through some, but not all, videos.
  • The Xbox 360 does not remember where you I left off when returning to a video that was previously viewed (as TiVo does).

Upcoming Streaming Through my TiVo Series 3

  • TiVo recently announced a new service about to be launched that does effectively the same thing – and more.
  • The new TiVo service will allow users to stream Quick Time, .wmv format and Mpeg 4 movies/podcasts/video content stored on the PC to the TiVo.
  • Since TiVo will also play videos coded in the .wmv codec, the transcoded video files I’m creating now for playback on the 360 will be equally accessible through my TiVo Series 3 – once TiVo rolls out that software upgrade that is.

While I don’t like the fact that all the videos are tossed into one directory on the 360, and while the fast forward and rewind functionality seems to be broken, it is still terrific to finally have all the videos I care about, permanently saved on my computer and playable at will on my Plasma TV through my Xbox 360 – no more DVD flipping! Yeah!

Note: I’m not talking about Microsoft’s new Xbox 360-based movie/tv download service that launched in the U.S. yesterday. That’s a whole different kettle of fish. For licensing reasons (Listen to Major Nelson’s Podcast #201 on this topic for more info.), Microsoft has not yet launched this outside the U.S. No doubt the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and the PS3 launch made this a high priority for U.S. roll-out before the rest of the world. I expect Microsoft to extend this to Canada, Europe and the world as their team has time to negotiate the various country by country rights. I certainly am looking forward to it.

Sources: Joystiq | Arne360

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XNA Game Studio Express Beta 2 – You Too Can be a Game Developer!

Categories: New Business ModelsNew TechStartup Game Developer Issues

Microsoft’s XNA Game Studio Express Beta 2 aims to provide anyone who’s ever thought they’d like to take a stab at developing a video game with a platform and system to do so. The beta version can be downloaded for free until December 11.

Dale’s Comment: From everything I’ve heard about the XNA Game Studio, this bodes very well for both the future of video gaming and the prospects for new developers to get into the business. With this development environment, anyone can attempt to develop video games. Video games created with XNA can be uploaded to the Internet and downloaded by members of the XNA Creators Club ($99 a year – or $44 for a 4 month trial) who wish to give your game a go – including through Xbox 360 Live Marketplace downloads. This is a tremendous opportunity for new developers to start off small and get their creations seen by publishers. If successful, such small games might, one day, become saleable PC game titles or XBox 360 Arcade titles – or both. Heck, maybe I’ll give it a try! :)

Sources: Gamasutra | IGN.com | Kotaku | EuroGamer | Next Generation | GameIndustry.biz | GameDaily.biz | TeamXbox

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Microsoft Patents Video Game Spectator Technology

Categories: New PatentsNew Tech

Text of Patent 6,999,083

Patent no. 6,999,083 provides for technologies that allow people to not just play video games against each other online, but to join the game as a spectator from anywhere in the world.

Dale’s Comment: Microsoft’s XBox 360 launch title Project Gotham 3 uses this technology. Note: I searched the U.S. patent website for under this patent number and could not find it.

Sources: Team Xbox | GameIndustry.biz | Silicon.com | VNUNet | ComputerWeekely.com | Hexus | Game News | Microsoft Press Release | Gamasutra | Next Generation | GameDaily.biz | Link | Yahoo Finance

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TiVo Announces PSP Subscription Service

Categories: New Tech

TiVo’s latest feature, will allow users to transfer recorded television programs (in MPEG-4 format) to the Sony PSP—and Apple’s new video iPod.

Sources: GamaSutra  |  GameSpot  |  Joystiq

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Cell Phone Industry Adopts Ratings for Cell-Phone Video Games

Categories: Game RatingsNew Tech

Representatives from cell phone industry group CITA (Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association) have announced that music, video and gaming products for cell phones in the U.S. are to adopt a new rating system as part of a new set of voluntary “Wireless Content Guidelines”.

Source: Gamasutra

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The (New) Dawn of Digital Distribution

Categories: Digital DistributionDistribution Agmt CasesNew Business ModelsNew Tech

Every multimedia conglomerate and its sister company wants in on the digital distribution market, but is it finally ready for prime time?

Source: GameSpot | Earlier Related Story: GameSpot (Nov. 9, 2004)

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Nintendo Patents “Sanity System” for Video Games

Categories: New PatentsNew Tech

Text of Sanity Patent
Nintendo was granted a patent for a sanity system for video games by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Dale’s Comment: This patent may not be enforceable due to being obvious. Or, if it is Quantic Dream may be in breach of this patent given that the main character, Lucas Kane, in it’s critically acclaimed Indigo Prophecy game (also known as “Fahrenheit” in Europe) is directly affected by his current mental health state. This game mechanic has clearly been used before.

Source: Team Xbox

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Skype Opens APIs To External Software, Including Games

Categories: New Tech

The popular Skype voice and instant-messaging protocol, which allows for free Internet-based telephony, will be made open to developers of other software, the company has announced. Currently requiring the use of Skype’s own client, the company will offer APIs to integrate the service into other software, including potential use in online video games

Source: Gamasutra

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