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Posts tagged Microsoft

Halo: The Master Chief Collection brings four Halo games, Halo 5 beta to Xbox One Nov. 11 

This is exactly what it sounds like. I approve.

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Last week Microsoft announced that they would begin selling the Xbox One without Kinect. At the time I said “now they’re trying to gain traction in the market by gutting their core values.” But I was never really happy with those words.

This week on One Life Left, Kinectless Xbox was the first news story of the week (embedded above). While it starts off a little jokey, Simon Byron and Ste Curran get very serious very quickly. After Ste calls it a “backwards step in video gaming” he says:

STE: I think it’s terrible. It’s such a shame that the world has bullied them into this position, where we were looking at a situation where Microsoft had a console which had all these features, some of were weird, and some of which seemed a bit dodgy, some of which seemed creepy but I think that, that was a PR problem. A lot of those features are in PC’s and in Sony’s console already and you know that has its own Kinect although it’s not obligatory. 

Instead Microsoft have pulled it from this machine. And we all know that you can’t design games for hardware addons. And so that possibility of games that just work with this console, that’s gone now.

STE: I was fortunate enough, while I was in America, to play Fantasia, Harmonix’s new Kinect only game. Which is, you know, based on the Disney movie Fantasia, it’s kind of like a video game followup. ANd it was Phenomenal. That game does things with music that I’ve never seen in video games before. It Certainly works as a gesture control experience as a Dancing experience as well, it’s one of the most successful ones I’ve ever played. 

And that game could not exist if it was being built for a fragmented market. It can only exist because they know everyone with an Xbox One will have a Kinect - only that’s not true anymore. And I feel so sorry for those guys, for having this dropped on them

STE: I don’t think they ever thought [Kinect] was the future of controlling games. I think they thought it was the future of controlling things in your living room. Which is what they wanted the Xbox One to be. And they’re failing to sell through enough units because people have got other ways of playing Netflix, now. And better ways now and you don’t need Xbox Live Gold to use it.

I just think, if you take everything aside. If you’re not interested in who’s going to win the console race. If you’re not interested in, you know, platform exclusives, or any of the garbage they use to sell platforms if you just are interested in games as a progressive medium, and different games, different forms of games it’s sad that a lot of creators will not be able to make them anymore.

SIMON: They haven’t moved the goal posts, sort of, mid term have they? They’ve sort of packed the goal posts up.

Ste does a better job saying exactly what I felt. You can listen to the whole episode here, but at the very least you should listen to the audio embedded above. And you should subscribe to their RSS because One Life Left is one of my favorite podcasts.

I couldn’t help making this joke. #sorrynotsorry 

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 hands-on: bigger, thinner, faster 

Microsoft just announced the Surface 3. 12 inches, 3:2 aspect ratio, and a new stylus. There’s some magic in the stylus, if you click the pen it instantly opens One Note. 

I think these are more steps in the right direction for the Surface. But I’m curious to see how this shakes out. Of course, a part of me wants this to be a big win for Microsoft, but for now, I’ll watch from afar and wait for the reviews to roll in.

Kinect Cut Could Lead To Two Interesting Xbox One Developments 

An interesting theory from Stephen Totilo.

Kinect-free Xbox One coming June 9 for $399 

Backtracking. The Xbox One Story.

This coupled with the announcement that Microsoft was dropping the Gold requirement for non gaming applications (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) are two huge moves for Microsoft.

I had two reactions here. First, it’s good that Microsoft is seeing what consumers want and adapting. Second, whatever they were doing wasn’t working. They made a huge misstep when they released the console only six months ago, and now they’re trying to gain traction in the market by gutting their core values. Chris Grant, the Editor in Chief at Polygon says it well:

The NPD numbers showed that Sony is currently “winning” this console war, (though, with only one holiday passed that’s hardly fair since this will be another long cycle). Microsoft was obviously scared by the trends they saw and acted accordingly. Yet this is just another in the long list of things Microsoft has gone back on with the Xbox One. From the outside they look like they’re scrambling. There is no way this was the plan from the start.

Taking 5: You Have A Headset

Like most Xbox One owners I’ve been playing a good amount of Titanfall. But something I’ve noticed more and more is silence. No one is using their headsets to talk to each other. The only audio I get during the game is the crackling of the NPC commander yelling at me. This is true in every game type I’ve played, including Hardpoint, an objective based game type.

It’s just insane to me that no one uses their headset. Especially when playing games where tactics are a huge part, you have to use your mic. With a microphone included with every Xbox One and Xbox 360 there is no excuse.

I’ve noticed this trend in the last few years on Xbox. When I was started playing games on Xbox Live (Crimson Skies and then Halo 2) people wouldn’t shut up. You always knew exactly where everyone was, who was going to take the flag and who was staying behind to defend.

It actually got to the point where there was too much conversation. Sure you’d get people would singing, and there was a ton of trash talk (I produced two videos at CollegeHumor exploring just that) but those were fringe cases and overall it was better that people were talking.

There was so much talking during Xbox games that Bungie made a point to show how easy it was to mute people in Halo 3. That’s what I want to get back to. Making shooters social again. I would much rather mute a few people talking too much (or breathing heavily into their mic) than have complete silence during the game.

I first noticed the decline of conversation playing Halo Reach Multiplayer and it was very apparent in Halo 4 (ok, look I don’t play that many online multiplayer games, but Halo is a big enough series that I think it makes for an adequate sample size). Since roughly 2010 I’ve noticed a decline in talking during multiplayer games.

Now, I’m not saying we should all immediately become best friends with everyone who we play Xbox Live with. But letting your teammates know that you’re going to attack or defend goes a long way. Me and the small group of friends who play Halo together are not, by any means, great at Halo (well Justin is, but he’s an anomaly). But because we’re talking we win far more matches than we lose.

And I think everyone can agree that it’s way more fun to win a multiplayer game than to lose.

If you’d like to play Titanfall with me my Gamer Tag is Ice Jedi. But please, wear a headset.


Tom Warren from The Verge gives you a quick look at some of the new features  Windows Phone 8.1.

Personally the notification action center is a huge addition. I spent 2 weeks with a Lumia 1020 last year and one of my biggest complaints was no unified place for notifications.

Yes, the two biggest features are a digital personal assistant and place notifications which have been on iOS and Android for some time. And yes, Microsoft is playing a bit of catchup, but I still like the look and feel of Windows Phone. Actually being able to get work done with it, is a little bit exciting.

Microsoft's new CEO is Satya Nadella 

Ok, Satya, I’m kind of a fan of Windows Phone and Windows 8, but I use a Mac and an iPhone. Let’s see what you can do here. 

Microsoft testing Windows 8.1 update that hides tile interface by default | The Verge 

I know Tom Warren. He is a man who wouldn’t publish this story unless there was validity to it. It’s a huge shame:

While the software giant originally released Windows 8.1 last year with an option to bypass the “Metro” interface at boot, sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans have revealed to The Verge that the upcoming update for Windows 8.1 will enable this by default. Like many other changes in Update 1, we’re told the reason for the reversal is to improve the OS for keyboard and mouse users.

I have been a fan of Windows 8 since I first saw it in person at CES in 2012. I like that Microsoft has a different idea on how we could be using computers. I like that they actually were moving away from the windowed desktop view that they helped make so popular. I like that it could scale up to 27 inch displays and down to phones. And for the most part, the few Windows 8 (and Windows Phone 8) devices that I’ve used looked and felt pretty good.

Yes it favors touch screen computers. And while Microsoft is trying to push touch computers and convertible tablets it still seems that a majority of users are using a mouse and keyboard (not surprising). I understand the reasoning I just can’t help but think there has to be a better way to optimize Metro (sorry “Modern UI”) for mouse and keyboard. Hiding it isn’t going to push things forward.

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