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Inside the New Xbox Experience

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the more-and-better dept.

XBox (Games) 50

Eurogamer has an in-depth look at the new Xbox Experience, which is coming on November 19th. They discuss the new interface and features, and their reaction is generally positive, citing graphical improvements, smooth file management, and better chat functionality. "The Guide is also your access point to the new Party system, where you can gather eight of your friends together in a voice-chat channel and move the group between games. You don't even have to be doing the same thing: you can just chat along regardless. And because it's a service layer, it automatically works with all your existing games. Gears of War treats it like it's always been there. Instead of inviting a player, you invite the group; instead of ending a session and having to reassemble for another, you stay together. You can open it up to friends or set it to be invite-only, and while it's one of NXE's quieter additions, it's also its most authoritative statement: this is Microsoft saying, 'We figured we might need to do something like this, so we made sure we could.'"

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50 comments

Hrm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592657)

Tastes like Wii.

Re:Hrm... (2, Insightful)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593069)

You know, I'm not going to take off points because a company is stealing a good idea and using it themselves rather than a worse idea. First of all, there are courts that take care of that. Second, innovation is good, but if one is clearly better than the other one, the worse one should go extinct. The next generation of consoles are probably all going to have motion controls, and there will be people who complain about ripping off the wii, but if we consumers get better games, better controls, better start menus, better ANYTHING, then I say rip off more.

Re:Hrm... (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593235)

You know, I'm not going to take off points because a user is posting a good idea and using it themselves rather than a worse idea.

I just had to hop on here as an Xbox user from the first gen consoles. I love my 360, it doesn't read any optical discs other than DVD movies, but it made one hell of a media extender with Windows Media Connect 2.0 on Windows XP professional... Then I took a raw copy of XP slipstreamed some updates and Windows Media Player 11, did a reinstall (hey it had been 13 months)... Now I can't see anything from my 360's other than the one Vista PC on my network (it should be noted that by slipstreaming WMP11 I upgraded certain core files that prevented me from using WMC2.0). And not only that, .avi videos that used to play flawlessly under WMC 2.0 now stutter if they are playable at all. It's rather amazing how, atleast for me, Microsoft totally crapped out one of the greatest features of the Xbox by requiring Windows Media Player for media sharing. On another note, one I haven't tested extensively, it does seem my newest media sharing config has little if any problems with Windows Media files. Odd that...

Re:Hrm... (1)

despe666 (802244) | more than 5 years ago | (#25594509)

I use TVersity [tversity.com] . It really works great and can play most videos I throw at it, and it will reencode the ones it can't play on the fly if you have the necessary hardware specs.

Re:Hrm... (1)

wazzzup (172351) | more than 5 years ago | (#25594717)

Get a Mac and install Connect360 [nullriver.com] . Works flawlessly. :)

For the fanboys - I'm not seriously recommending he buy a Mac. Just a tongue-in-cheek comment based on the irony that my Mac works better with my 360 than his XP box.

Re:Hrm... (1)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 5 years ago | (#25599827)

Download a distro and pick up http://ushare.geexbox.org/ [geexbox.org] , I had the same problem where an old Win to 360 streaming worked but then broke, this new configuration is all that has worked.

Re:Hrm... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25598303)

I was hoping that we would get something more like the EyeToy, but that worked in a better range of situations. Maybe with multiple cameras? Then you could use it for cheap mocap :) Having controllers means you need either wires or batteries, and besides, you might break your tv :p

Re:Hrm... (1)

pieisgood (841871) | more than 5 years ago | (#25598313)

As someone once told me "Good artists create, great artists steal"

Install to hard drive? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592693)

The *one* feature I was interested in, install to hard disk, they only mentioned in passing, saying that "We haven't had long enough with NXE to gauge how much of an improvement installation is over playing off the disc, but we'll take a look in the coming weeks."

Thanks, that was the whole reason I read the stupid article.

Re:Install to hard drive? (0)

Khyber (864651) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592857)

"We haven't had long enough with NXE to gauge how much of an improvement installation is over playing off the disc"

This is further proof that Microsoft people have NO CLUE. Hard Drives are magnitudes of order faster than optical media, at least for random access. GTA4 on PC, no problem. On the PS3 and XBox360, I've seen it stutter and lag trying to keep up with what's going on.

Re:Install to hard drive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25593099)

"We haven't had long enough with NXE to gauge how much of an improvement installation is over playing off the disc"

This is further proof that Microsoft people have NO CLUE. Hard Drives are magnitudes of order faster than optical media, at least for random access. GTA4 on PC, no problem. On the PS3 and XBox360, I've seen it stutter and lag trying to keep up with what's going on.

Uh, what the article is stating is that THEY haven't had the time to actually install a game, measure times and etc. to see how many an improvement installing a game on the harddrive would be over playing it from the disc itself.

The article isn't stating that the game was installed on the harddrive but improvements weren't noticeable.

Also, on the 360 at least, GTA IV is *not* installed on the harddrive. It *may* use it as a cache (some 360s don't have a harddrive) but it doesn't install it. So yea, you might see stutters and lag. This might change if you actually install it on the harddrive now.

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 5 years ago | (#25597297)

Which us PC users have done for a couple of decades now. Let's see, Blu-Ray doesn't even come CLOSE to Hard Drive speeds.

The idiots that modded me down to zero are just that - idiots. There's not *ONE* consumer optical drive, hell there's not even ONE COMMERCIAL optical drive that can outperform a platter HDD in ANYTHING. HDDs have the higher throughput, better seek times, better random access times.

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

BalorTFL (766196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25597763)

Sorry, but those earlier mods were actually pretty justified. Your post was not just incorrect, but contained outright lies.

First, while HDD's are indeed faster than optical media, there are a number of games for the 360 that already cache data onto the drive if it is present. In these cases, installing the game to the disk with NXE will actually result in -slower- performance than before, since the game will be recaching back to the same HDD, and thrashing like mad.

Second, your GTA4 comparison was wrong on basically every level possible. The Windows version of the game has not yet been released, so there's no way in hell you can compare it to the PS3 and 360 versions - you're clearly lying about doing so. Also, the PS3 version of the game has always had a mandatory install to the hard drive - if you're still claiming to see stuttering, it's certainly not due to a lack of an HDD install. Finally, even when the PC version comes out, comparisons between it and the 360 version will tell you nothing about the effects of HDD installation, since it will be a different executable, running with completely different capabilities in terms of CPU, GPU, and RAM. By your logic, I could install it on a computer with far below the minimum requirements, and thereby claim that I had proven HDD installs caused constant performance problems.

To put it succinctly, you failed. Sorry.

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601141)

What you call GTA4 and what I call GTA4 are different things. To me, GTA 4 is San Andreas, which is the true 4th version of the game.

Of course, you people pay attention to title, and never the true order in which games came out, I FORGOT.

Anyways, notwithstanding that argument, San Andreas, played on either PS3 or Xbox 360 (love backwards compatibility) STILL STUTTERS. PC, it doesn't.

THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK.

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

DaTFooLCaSS (762599) | more than 5 years ago | (#25602033)

What you call GTA4 and what I call GTA4 are different things. To me, GTA 4 is San Andreas, which is the true 4th version of the game.

Of course, you people pay attention to title, and never the true order in which games came out, I FORGOT.

alex you are dumb..... a title is just that "A TITLE"... Better known as a "NAME"..... you know what you call it. P.S. wow my user id is a bit lower than yours, who woulda thunk

Two Words. (1)

TheeGravedigger (1276850) | more than 5 years ago | (#25604233)

Vice City.

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

BalorTFL (766196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25604259)

For someone who claims to pay attention to the "true order" of game releases, you seem to have forgotten one; by your method, San Andreas would be GTA 5, since it was proceeded by GTA, GTA 2, GTA 3, and GTA: Vice City.

Also, in your haste to criticize me for my apparently nonstandard method of "reading the title on the box/disc/game itself" to determine the name of a game, you dodged the more relevant points I was making. Simply put, your comparison is inherently useless for determining the effect of HD installs on game performance - by careful choice of computer components, it is easy to build a computer that will stutter while running GTA:SA.

Further, from a development side, one can make multiple versions of a game that are all sold under one title, but on different platforms, and have arbitrarily poor performance on any of them. Unless you can make a true apples-to-apples comparison between two systems with similar hardware and the same game executable, you have proved nothing. It would be at least as plausible to claim that the differences are due to more available RAM, faster CPUs, higher-end graphics cards, more efficient code, or lack of an emulation layer when running the PC version as to credit it to the hard drive installation.

Does the HDD install on the PC version get credit for higher-resolution textures, larger draw distance, and mouse-look support, too?

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 5 years ago | (#25599717)

Which us PC users have done for a couple of decades now. Let's see, Blu-Ray doesn't even come CLOSE to Hard Drive speeds.

The idiots that modded me down to zero are just that - idiots. There's not *ONE* consumer optical drive, hell there's not even ONE COMMERCIAL optical drive that can outperform a platter HDD in ANYTHING. HDDs have the higher throughput, better seek times, better random access times.

Ironically, the PS3's Blu-Ray drive is slower than the Xbox360's DVD drive! That's partly why the drive is so loud - the Xbox360's DVD drive is faster and has a higher throughput than the PS3's Blu-Ray drive. (This was with at least the older PS3s and Xbox360s - I don't know if part changes have resolved this issue).

It's probably why a some PS3 games require "installation" before use - the game loads data onto the hard drive so it's faster to access than the Blu-Ray drive, and helps cut down load times. Some games really seem to abuse it too - loading 5GB of data on the hard disk.

Re:Install to hard drive? (5, Informative)

Have Blue (616) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592863)

According to other reports load times are slightly improved, operating noise is significantly decreased, and a rip takes 6-10 minutes. You also need to put the original disk in the drive to play an installed game (so don't think you can just fill it with games from friends or Gamefly for free).

Re:Install to hard drive? (0, Flamebait)

Ron_Fitzgerald (1101005) | more than 5 years ago | (#25594693)

And in true Microsoft fashion, the whole purpose of rip-tp-drive' here is to quiet down the stupid optical drive. But since the 20GB drive formats to 14.5 GB from the start, you really can only put 1 game on the drive if you have other content like demos/arcade etc. so you will need to buy their $160 / 120Gb drive. And this is just to quiet their loud drives.

This was the feature I was excited for but now that I have to put the disk in as well it means nothing to me anymore.

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25598689)

And in true Microsoft fashion, the whole purpose of rip-tp-drive' here is to quiet down the stupid optical drive.

If you think that, you should think again. The hard disk is also faster than the optical drive, especially when it comes to seek times. I haven't played PS3 games, but on the Xbox and the PS2, most games seem to do a lot of seeking, and not so much streaming. The real tragedy is that a lot of these titles have enough free space on the disc (or would if they used a decent video codec, in other cases) to just replicate data to avoid long seeks... But that requires intelligence.

Anyway, enough of that, the point is that I don't copy games to my Xbox hard disk (I flashed bios and use XBMC as dash, copy with the filemanager, slick) and now I don't have ages-long load times. Where you really notice is GTA:SA, where I went from the LOAD TIMES OF DOOM to never having to wait for anything to load except when the scene actually changes. I never have streaming lag.

The fact that you need a bigger hard disk is not Microsoft's fault. Besides, a lot of people don't often change games. They play one game 90% of the time. So while it does suck, it's not really that bad... for them anyway :P

Re:Install to hard drive? (3, Insightful)

lucas teh geek (714343) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592879)

thank you for saving me and many others from wasting our time too. I think that's the only think most people are interested in. I guess the netflix streaming might interest some where it's available, but to the rest of the world this update is basically avatars and installing to disk; and no one really gives a shit about avatars

Re:Install to hard drive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592973)

Like you were going to read the article if he hadn't ;)

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593873)

How much extra in-your-face advertising there's going to be is useful (albeit depressing) info, and that the guide is basically the old dashboard is also handy to know.

Installing to disc though; I just did the 120GB own-HDD hack in preparation. I'm not worried so much about loading speed, as making the goddamn DVD drive quieter when playing.

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

lucas teh geek (714343) | more than 5 years ago | (#25598297)

I'm not worried so much about loading speed, as making the goddamn DVD drive quieter when playing.

I know exactly what you mean. my 360 is on the end of a 5M vga + 5M optical cable in order to get it out of the tv room, and even then you can hear the dvd drive whine if the door isnt shut.

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

lucas teh geek (714343) | more than 5 years ago | (#25613653)

i couldnt resist the temptation and installed the update that's floating around the net already. the silence is beautiful, I'm considering allowing the 360 back into the tv room now :)

oh, and I didn't even last 24hours before I rushed out and did the 120 WD BEVS upgrade. with the installs being in the range ~4-7gb and a 20gb hdd only having 13gb free, i could see it was going to get frustrating shuffling data around very, very quickly.

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 5 years ago | (#25596609)

Other things I'm hoping is in this update:

XNA peer-created games.

Party options. Having a game-independent 8 player group-up is pretty nice for those of us scattered to the winds.

Hopes:

I'm hoping they cache the Xbox live arcade game list. The "Display 'em as you find 'em" current thing is pretty terrible.

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25598703)

I guess the netflix streaming might interest some where it's available

You have to have broadband (ok) a Xbox 360 with HDMI (not so many) and a TV with HDMI (even less) to even get HD content. How many people does that cover? Can anyone explain why they even bothered?

Re:Install to hard drive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25598793)

Well, I'm pretty happy about it--in fact, it's the greatest feature I've heard of yet.

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

EGSonikku (519478) | more than 5 years ago | (#25599031)

I have all of the above. 360's have been shipping with HDMI for what, over a year now? And what HDTV these days doesn't have HDMI?

And HDMI *isn't* necessary, people with the NXE Preview report you can stream Netflix HD over component on the 360 just fine.

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25617771)

And HDMI *isn't* necessary, people with the NXE Preview report you can stream Netflix HD over component on the 360 just fine.

Whoops, looks like it was debunked after I read the announcement... On the other hand, they could easily change this later, so if it was a rumor and not an attack, it could still be true.

Regardless, you are way in the minority if you have all three of those things... I think it's a big waste of time. Only time itself will tell.

Re:Install to hard drive? (1)

lucas teh geek (714343) | more than 5 years ago | (#25599981)

dont ask me. last time I looked they didnt even offer SD content on the australian xbl marketplace. the artificial online "region" bullshit has to stop

oh yeah.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25592743)

and the wii will still outsell the microsoft "experience"....

Re:oh yeah.... (1)

wazzzup (172351) | more than 5 years ago | (#25594875)

And the Honda Civic experience will outsell the Dodge Ram experience so what's your point? They are two completely different audiences that have different gaming styles and preferences. I could care less about who's leading who. Any increase in gaming popularity benefits all gamers.

can you say.... (1)

sirmonkey (1056544) | more than 5 years ago | (#25592801)

more ad's more ad's! yes thats what consumers want! we like being horrored out!! oo yea baby! (i feel bad for the windows/MS minions some times.... man my country has gotten greedy... humm i should prolly clean up and load my guns beore this election uh? whelp i'm off...)

Re:can you say.... (1)

jrockway (229604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593083)

Wow, your spelling is bad.

But ads aren't new. The 360 has bombarded you with ads for as long as I can remember.

Re:can you say.... (1)

sirmonkey (1056544) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593377)

no speakie-de english :-) haha, yea i slipped through the cracks! woot for USA education! yea well i remember when it first came out and it wasn't as bad. then recently it was like your getting butt raped for no charge. the background for entire sections in the menu was nothing but an add.

That name's gonna open some scars (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593179)

I bet former SWG players cringe at that name.

Please... (3, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593461)

...just tell me I don't *have* to create, use, or look at one of those retarded-looking avatars.

Other than this, it really feels like the driving force behind this is that they want more space for advertising.

Jerry Johnson insisted that a central tenet of the New Xbox Experience is "serendipitous discovery of content" - in other words, giving you stuff to do rather than expecting you to fire up the box with a plan already in mind - but after a few hours' use it's hard to shake the feeling that, among the more useful rows of panels showcasing the latest and most popular downloads, the new channels are simply a new wave of adverts that push beyond the old dashboard's capacity.

I'm going to throw you a warning, Microsoft, and you can take this from someone who has enjoyed using your consoles so far. You start barraging your best customers with adverts, even more than you're already doing (which is bordering on obnoxious already), and you're going to risk killing the lead you currently enjoy with your online services.
   

Re:Please... (3, Informative)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 5 years ago | (#25593907)

FTA, I think you're going to be disappointed on both counts I'm afraid. The first thing you have to do is create an avatar which is then used prominently on the 'my xbox' and 'friends' pages - the friends list is now replaced by a collection of avatars.

From the sounds of it, the advertising is going to get even worse and more pushy and in-your-face. I wish there was a 'xbox live' proxy we could install that would filter out the ad images from the rest of the content. Hmm. I might try forcing it through a proxy anyway to see what it's doing, but I bet it's done over https.

Re:Please... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25598711)

I might try forcing it through a proxy anyway to see what it's doing, but I bet it's done over https.

If it's typical Microsoft, they're just accepting a certificate blindly... and you could use squid and packet mangling to find out anyway.

Clarification of party chat (2, Interesting)

wazzzup (172351) | more than 5 years ago | (#25594845)

The new party chat seems great but at 8 people it seems limited. How does it interact when you play games with more than 8 people. Does it work concurrently with whatever chat implementation the game provides or is it an either/or prospect - game chat or group chat but not both?

HDD install will be welcome and Netflix streaming will be welcome if/when they improve the awful selection available for instant viewing.

The avatar friends list thing does not seem practical. Hopefully there will be sorting by online status as an option to the alphabetic order thing.

BTW, if you are 30+ or so and prefer not playing with timmies and griefers but with folks your age with lives, jobs and families check out GeezerGamers. For me, it totally changed XBL from painful to fun.

Re:Clarification of party chat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25596265)

Do I still get to call you a nigger for killing people with the noob tube in CoD4?

Re:Clarification of party chat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25596417)

> BTW, if you are 30+ or so and prefer not playing with timmies and griefers but with folks your age with lives, jobs and families check out GeezerGamers. For me, it totally changed XBL from painful to fun.

They are usually the worst offenders.

Re:Clarification of party chat (1)

63N1U5 (840190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25613893)

Netflix just recently added over 1000 movies from StarzPlay, many of the same films that are broadcast on the Starz cable networks. There are many more popular/newer films available for streaming now.

Speed of Release (1)

ironwill96 (736883) | more than 5 years ago | (#25595049)

I'm not sold on the new avatar type stuff since I really just use the dashboard as a way to get into games or download content, not as a social networking site like MySpace or Facebook.

I do have to give Microsoft credit though for getting to market so quickly with what looks like a fairly large overhaul. Sony's Home make-over was announced in early 2007 and it is still in beta, while the new 360 experience will be out the middle of this month. Sony's setup may ultimately prove better - when it actually makes it to PS3 hard drives.

I threw my xbox360 in the garbage (1)

banffbug (1323109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25596401)

after having it more than 2 years (just long enough for the warranty to expire) it gave me the Red Ring of Death. Also, the game Civilization Revolution was designed in such a way that it constantly accesses the CD, which in turn burns out the drive.. makes me wonder how they can release such crap.

Re:I threw my xbox360 in the garbage (1)

mingot (665080) | more than 5 years ago | (#25598337)

Heh. You threw a broken 360 into the garbage when it broke two years into a three year warranty.

Try it now (apparently) (1)

elbarco (776094) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601663)

I've heard (http://forums.xbox-scene.com/index.php?showtopic=665221) that this has been leaked. No live till the 19th though. At least I hope it's only until the 19th

Genius idea! Feasible? (1)

our weakness (1405133) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726301)

Ok, without modding, or doing anything that would bring down the rath of microsoft (sorry! it's for a good cause though!) would it be possible for me to set up for my family, an easy way to access everything we would normally get off satellite (Fox News, Disney Channel... more news...) off of the new xbox live interface? The set up would like something like this: Xbox on Live hooked up to Windows Media Center Extender thingy, from which we could pull netflix, etc. But what about hulu? or other tv shows? Live streams from CNN, FOX, MSNBC? Come on! Any and all ideas! PLEASE!
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