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Xbox Live Feature Upgrades Include Online Storage?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the giant-xboxen-in-data-centers dept.

XBox (Games) 46

Flamingcheeze writes "According to a Reuters article: 'Microsoft Corp. is planning a number of new features for its Xbox Live online gaming service this year, including... something called 'title-managed online storage,' a way for game players to store and share data via Microsoft's network.' The piece goes on to note, without directly drawing a link: 'speculation within the industry that Microsoft may not include a hard drive in the next version of the Xbox console, in favor of network-based storage that would reduce the console's physical size and cost', as recently discussed on Slashdot Games." The article also mentions possible "indications... that Xbox Live would eventually allow players to leave each other brief voice messages", and a story at GameSpot has further, albeit brief details on this 'Tsunami' upgrade.

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Will technology wonders ever cease?!? (4, Funny)

Anthony Boyd (242971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346663)

The article also mentions possible "indications... that Xbox Live would eventually allow players to leave each other brief voice messages"

Wow, you mean, like voicemail?

Re:Will technology wonders ever cease?!? (4, Informative)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346910)

Yeah, except voicemail attached to an anonymous video game userID with no provision of personal information. It would permit you to leave a buddy a message telling them when you'd be online, or leaving a buddy a message about a high score, bad player, etc. Since Microsoft is avoiding the keyboard for Xbox, it makes a lot of sense. It also makes sense from a security point of view because, again, no personal information ever has to change hands in order to get some offline communication going.

Re:Will technology wonders ever cease?!? (4, Interesting)

Cebu (161017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346919)

I would hope the intention would be to finally integrate MSN Messenger functionality into Xbox live allowing users to communicate seamlessly between the desktop environment (via MSN Messenger's VoIP capabilities) and Xbox Live. Voicemail would be kind of nice too I suppose.

Most game developers, and a host of non-game developers, have been thinking about better communication integration for quite sometime now. The utility of communication services is directly proportionate with the number of users. Subsequently, it makes a lot of sense to try to increase your user base. Similar efforts have been made in Valve's Steam, and if you want a far older example look at how wireless text messaging systems have evolved -- communicating between wireless phones, landline phones, and desktop computers may not be ubiquitous, but it's certain availible.

Sensitive personal information (3, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346674)

Yes, trust Microsoft to store your sensitive personal information, like "does not signal left turns in "Gotham" race game" and "would rather play as dwarf than elf". A violation of privacy, I tell you!

Re:Sensitive personal information (2, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346866)

"Yes, trust Microsoft to store your sensitive personal information, like "does not signal left turns in "Gotham" race game" and "would rather play as dwarf than elf". A violation of privacy, I tell you! "

One man's troll is another man's +5, Satire.

I think (3, Interesting)

Lemental (719730) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346695)

This would make an already great service better. I still dont like the idea of the next one not having a HD though. Not everyone lives in a boradband area, maybe they will put a dual adapter in the next one, like Sony. Not that online gaming has been that sucessful for Sony. I think it wont hurt things to even offer ISP service, give them something to do with all those MSN nodes out there.

Re:I think (0, Troll)

AMDude (730448) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346897)

I still dont like the idea of the next one not having a HD though.

You don't like it? Well look at Microsoft. They're already pissed at Linux for hacking into 'their' console with Xbox Linux http://xbox-linux.sourceforge.net/ . Because its a cheap powerful system. And Microsoft won't be making any money because usally the 'people' who do this don't buy any games. So Microsoft isn't making money at all. If they put a hard drive in the Xbox next, that would be plain stupid because the Xbox next will be more powerful than most PC's. Sooo the system will be about umm $750 Cdn at the very least. My computer upgrade was $650 Cdn for a system a fourth of the power!

Windows XP game advisor: If it isn't made by Microsoft, then it isn't a good game!

Re:I think (2, Insightful)

Dot.Com.CEO (624226) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348177)

Outside the ten people in slashdot who actually have Linux installed in their slashdot just for the sake of it, no one gives a shit about Xbox Linux except, that is, for the mod chip manufacturers who found an excellent argument for saying the modchip has uses other than playing pirate games.

Re:I think (3, Insightful)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346946)

Assuming they once again include a network adapter, not including a hard drive could be turned into a nice thing for gamers. What if the Xbox OS allowed you to set aside a fixed amount of space on the hard drive of another PC and access that just as we currently can the Xbox HD? That would allow the same facilities in terms of ripping songs for custom soundtracks, saving games, etc., and it would make the next Xbox cheaper [to build] with one less part to fail. They've already tested this to some extent with their Music Mixer software which allows the transfer of pre-existing music files on a PC over to the Xbox.

Re:I think (1)

Singletoned (619322) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348108)

Music Mixer [xbox.com] looks quite interesting, though $40 for a copy of Windows Media Player is pushing it a bit.

If all this kind of stuff was included in the Xbox by default I'd happily make it The Centre of My Living Room.

Re:I think (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348633)

Unfortunately, the big appeal of Music Mixer was supposed to be the karaoke feature, so the $40 covers the inclusion of a microphone and adapter as well. For me, because I didn't want to stretch audio wiring from my computer to my living room (CAT-5 is another issue entirely for a geek), the program was worth the money not to have to re-rip those CDs again in the Xbox.

Re:I think (1)

fastidious edward (728351) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347085)

'speculation within the industry that Microsoft may not include a hard drive in the next version of the Xbox console, in favor of network-based storage that would reduce the console's physical size and cost'

I'm surprised you are consused sith such a crap quote. This snippit of text opens a proposition [no HD], reinforces the proposition [network, etc], but doesn't answer it.

Perhaps including the full quote from TFA "There has been speculation within the industry that Microsoft may not include a hard drive in the next version of the Xbox console, in favor of network-based storage that would reduce the console's physical size and cost." makes it more complete - that they know nothing, rather than anyhalf stared, half finished, empty middled quote as given.

Next minute they'll be spelling you're as your, pluras with 's, too as to. Grammar on /. is crap - not in a nitpicky way but in the way meaning becomes ambigious. And this is a website orientated towards people who can program, so must be required not to be ambigious. Is this why coding is being offshored - because 2 bit college grads are plain crap?

Re:I think (2, Funny)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347260)

Actually, I think companies are outsourcing because those British accents sound so intelligent and dignified when the Indians come in to make their proposals. =P

Re:I think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8349265)

I remember someone a while ago posting something on a great way to make money off video games. Something like, "Why no start charging a subscription rate for every game to be able to play it, even if it's not a masively multiplayer game? Opps, lets hope the game companies aren't reading this. They might just get some ideas."

I thought it was a pretty evil idea. Then I read MS in the news and posts on rumored online game saving. I think to myself "could they pull off this kind of evil plan?" Then I realize, "If anyone can, MS can."

Ah.... come on people!!! (5, Insightful)

JFMulder (59706) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346714)

Why does people even think that the Xbox Next would actually have savegames on a remote location? This is such a ridiculous idea. I mean, games would take a lot longer to load and save, especially around 8 o'clock in the evening when everybody is playing. It would totally kill backward compatibility if there is any. Not only online games couldn't be playable when your Internet connection is down, but offline games too. And you'd definitely need broadband to have a somewhat acceptable performance. Games like KOTOR would be impossible (savegames are over 8 megs!).

People writing these articles really need to get a clue.

Re:Ah.... come on people!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8346809)

It might use memory cards?

Re:Ah.... come on people!!! (1)

JFMulder (59706) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347110)

Yeah, but then if it uses memory card, why even talk about remote storage. That's the point.

Re:Ah.... come on people!!! (3, Interesting)

DeadScreenSky (666442) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348515)

Well yeah, and then you can't do stuff like the KOTOR saves, really. The ability to have big save games is a really nice feature, and games like KOTOR or Fable (or even Halo in-mission saves) would be very difficult to do with a memory card, even assuming it is four times bigger than current cards (which was the jump last gen IIRC, so 2 meg -> 8 meg -> 64 meg). Sure, you can do some clever optimizing to allieviate part of the problem, but game saves are only going to get bigger.

Non-obtrusive autosaves are also a nice feature that I assume isn't being done on other consoles without hard disks (since poorly programmed multiplatform titles like Tony Hawk feature long pauses for saving, something you really don't find in the better Xbox games).

Re:Ah.... come on people!!! (1, Informative)

toiletsalmon (309546) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347183)

Why does people even think that the Xbox Next would actually have savegames on a remote location?

There has been speculation that for the next console, an ethernet connection AND XBox Live will be included in some manner. Maybe just the first year free. Doing that would allow them to axe the HD and shrink the box quite a bit, both costs savings I'm sure.

And you'd definitely need broadband to have a somewhat acceptable performance.

That's why it has an ethernet port and not a 56K modem like the Dreamcast. They even state that you must have broadband to use Live. For those without, I'm sure they will have the memory card option.

I'll be disappointed though if the next one doesn't have an HD.

Re:Ah.... come on people!!! (2)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347671)

Well, I'm reasonably certain the XBox PowerPC chip won't be compatible with your current x86 chip. But the xbox people seem to keep pushing broadband required features. Every time I turn around someone's betting on the prevailance of broadband and it never works. So it wouldn't suprise me to see them bet on it as stupidly as 8 megabyte files across a cable modem.

Re:Ah.... come on people!!! (2, Informative)

Maserati (8679) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347904)

Worse, you lose the ability to make custom mp3 soundtracks. Any new material for a game will have to be accessed anew every time, and possibly during play if it won't fit in local volatile storage.

Wouldn't Get Too Excited (3, Insightful)

illuminata (668963) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346740)

Their last feature upgrade did offer a little bit of an improvement in the dashboard (GUI), but their out of game voice chat is a complete mess. It sounds terrible in comparison to chatting in a game! Voices are heard gurgled and staticky even with a first party microphone (for those who don't go on XBox Live, most third party microphones are horrible). I hope that this time around the new features are better.

In fact, I think that they should worry more about improving upon the ideas that they've already implemented. For one, get the voice chat to work right. Then, how about adding some card games or board games for the people to play while chatting? It's not very fun to stare at a menu when you could be doing something in the meantime.

As of now, most people just set up an empty private server to chat in a game where they met their friend. Hell, it sounds better that way and you have something to do.

Re:Wouldn't Get Too Excited (1)

Cebu (161017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346850)

It sounds terrible in comparison to chatting in a game! Voices are heard gurgled and staticky even with a first party microphone (for those who don't go on XBox Live, most third party microphones are horrible). I hope that this time around the new features are better.

Xbox Live uses the same VoIP system via dashboard as it does in game. Microsoft purchased the Waterloo based Shadow Factor in 1999 to integrate their VoIP technology into DirectX as well as other MS products. You now see the same technology in DirectX, MSN Messenger, and Xbox Live.

Then, how about adding some card games or board games for the people to play while chatting?

As strange at idea kind of sounds, MS has signed a recent deal with the makers of the Catan series of game for the creation of electronic versions. I somewhat doubt it'll make it's way onto Xbox given the target demographic, but you never know.

Re:Wouldn't Get Too Excited (1)

illuminata (668963) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346891)

Xbox Live uses the same VoIP system via dashboard as it does in game.

Well, it must be a problem with their own implementation, because there is a large difference in voice quality. The quality also varies somewhat from game to game, but the dashboard is the worst. I've chatted with many people from the dashboard and they have the same experience.

Re:Wouldn't Get Too Excited (2, Informative)

Cebu (161017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347350)

Xbox Live games and the Xbox Live dashboard both use the Live API, of which the VoIP audio codecs have not significantly changed. The Live API VoIP framework has been rolled into the XDK for a long time now. Subsequently the implementations of VoIP are virtually identical between Xbox games as well as the Xbox Live dashboard.

What differences do occur, are usually in the networking code and initial VoIP settings. It's upto the developer to decide the compression window size for voice data, and how to deal with the VDP stream. Subsequently, voice performance will differ somewhat based upon processor usage, the bandwidth requirements of the game, and the applications network stack. However, they all use the same VoIP audio codecs, engine and protocols.

The point being that the difference in voice quality are due to the specific applications requirements, and not the implementation (unless the developers can't even use the voice framework correctly -- which I find very hard to believe). If bandwidth and processor resources are abundant, you can simply increase the granularity of the voice compression window and almost magically you have better voice quality.

The corrollary of all this is that there is no mess to fix. Any voice quality variance is due to very intentional decisions on how to use the provided VoIP framwork, or variance introduced by the network environment itself.

Antidotally, I haven't particularly had any problems with voice quality while using dashboard in comparison to that in games. I find both to be acceptable at best, which is to say about the same as most other VoIP applications used over a home connection.

Re:Wouldn't Get Too Excited (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8351344)

"Antidotally"? Jesus, dude. If you don't know what the word is, don't try to use it...

Re:Wouldn't Get Too Excited (1)

Cebu (161017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8351569)

Blame my spell checker. Relax -- this is a messageboard.

Holy shit! (0, Troll)

LennyDotCom (26658) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346749)

Billy boy has adapted McNealy's idea and is goning to use it in real life. I wounder if M$ will use sun servers?

if MS backed VOIP on Xbox Live... (1)

robdeadtech (232013) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346811)


then they might actually use their cash coffers to try to mitigate VOIP "taxes..."

Where's The Broadband? (4, Interesting)

Bruha (412869) | more than 10 years ago | (#8346899)

With the current dismal speeds of broadband in the US and antiquated pricing structures for mass bandwidth on the backbones I doubt even MicroSoft could pressure the DSL and Cable providers to provide more robust links to homes. Players no doubt would rather save to their systems than wait a few minutes of their playtime watching a counter tick away while uploading the data and for their friends to download the data.

Even on 768k DSL it takes up to 5 minutes or longer in some cases to download necessary game patches to even allow online play on XboxLive. Until the broadband speeds pony up to the challenge I think the next Xbox and even the PS3 will be hard pressed to provide the stated functionality sought by gamer for online gaming.

Re:Where's The Broadband? (0, Insightful)

toiletsalmon (309546) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347217)

Remember the old NES days whenever you'd save your progress with a password? 256KB is enough for quite a long password and it wouldn't take very long to up/download.

Re:Where's The Broadband? (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347279)

Even on 768k DSL it takes up to 5 minutes or longer in some cases to download necessary game patches to even allow online play on XboxLive.

a) Not every single time one plays - more like one 5-minute delay per month (at most).
b) That's not that long for a multi-meg download.
c) Would you rather they not improve the service when they can?
d) If you'd turn off Kazaa, you would probably experience increased Xbox Live performance.

Re:Where's The Broadband? (1)

DeadScreenSky (666442) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348504)

The parent post was referring to the next Xbox possibly not having a hard drive - so you would need to download that stuff every time. It would hurt loading times quite a bit, as well as lowering responsiveness in general. MS better have a good solution for this if they decide to take this route... (Maybe large integrated flash memory, so at least reduce the frequency? Rewriteable discs?)

He wasn't attacking Xbox Live, so lay off the fanboy defensiveness. :D

Re:Where's The Broadband? (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348617)

Actually, being defensive about Xbox doesn't require being a "fanboy" (I enjoy all three current consoles). Most places, it just requires being a "fan" considering how it gets hammered. :)

That being said, you're right. I misunderstood the original point and retract my attitude - I'm no more excited than anyone else about the idea of a Microsoft game console without a hard drive.

Re:Where's The Broadband? (1)

leifm (641850) | more than 10 years ago | (#8366705)

I find it hard to believe that after selling the hard drive thing this generation they're going to walk away from it with XNext. Saved games might work ok networked, but custom soundtracks with a 256Kb upload? I'd say they want to cut the hard drive, as it's probably the component in the XBOX that fails the most, and replace it with flash. Networked data storage for people that want to get to their saves on somebody else's XBOX, or trade saves with a friend, something like that.

Re:Where's The Broadband? (1)

JFMulder (59706) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348759)

Where's The Broadband?
In Canada. ;)

I see where this is going (0, Troll)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347055)

So when's MS windows for xbox coming out?

Let's be honest about it, that's where they are going to end up anyways.

What a poor excuse (1)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347377)

Microsoft may not include a hard drive in the next version of the Xbox console, in favor of network-based storage that would reduce the console's physical size and cost

I'm looking at my PC's hard drive right now and I don't see how a hard drive could add that much to the physical size of the Xbox. I think Microsoft needs to quit making up excuses and just get hardware companies to make specialized hardware for their system to cutting down on the size. (Just look at the size of the Gamecube. You KNOW it has specialized hardware just by its size.)

Re:What a poor excuse (1)

akudoi (568104) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348083)

Not only that, take a look at the iPod. Apple has 40gig models and they're no bigger then my wallet. The removal of the hdd in the xbox is more for reducing the cost of the machine and more importantly it'll force people into subscribing to LIVE to save games.

Re:What a poor excuse (1)

paiste404 (681249) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356561)

Right, but a hard drive is not something you can cheaply make smaller. If you open up the Xbox youll notice that that the hard drive appartaus takes up about one quarter of the space inside. And its not like you can just opt to use a smaller hard drive. Why do you think iPods are so expensive (aside from general apple high prices)? They have small hard drives. Would you rather pay $200 for a small-sized Xbox Next or $500 for a small-sized Xbox Next with a small hard drive inside?

Voice messages? (-1, Funny)

jwriney (16598) | more than 10 years ago | (#8347539)

Oh joy. Now the twelve year old Ritalin-addled snotnosed asshats that run rampant through every online game can now leave me little voice messages.

>YOU HAVE 1 NEW X-MAIL
*click*
From: L33TK1LL3RD00D!!1!!1
To: jwriney

>VOICE MESSAGE FOLLOWS

Eat a dick.

>END OF MESSAGE
--riney

Re:Voice messages? (1)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348717)

If he was on my friends list, that might be a really funny message.

Linux... (2)

Lord Graga (696091) | more than 10 years ago | (#8348501)

By excluding a harddrive they exclude any kind of pirate material, except for bootchips. This means that it might be impossible to run Linux on future versions of the XBox.

Re:Linux... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8349813)

NOOOOO!!!!

Seriously though, you can run Linux on the gamecube. Why is running linux so important on a console anyway?

Mod me as troll, but consoles are for games.

Here Comes The Spam (1)

Dr. Wu (309239) | more than 10 years ago | (#8350482)

Yeah, I'm not thrilled with the idea of voicemail. Even though it's subscription-based, which will make it harder to prevent other users from leaving messages (or at least easier to track them), it could still happen.

Even more likely, Microsoft will use it to spam us with info about upcoming games or add-ons.

"Hey [insert gamertag].

We see that you've been playing a lot of [insert game], and wanted to let you know that [new downloadable content/add-on disc/sequel/another game of the similar genre] is available. Push X now to have this automatically [downloaded/shipped] to you.

Thanks for using Xbox Live

[long delay]
PS: Any of the above that is paid content or actual merchandise will be billed to your credit card we have on file. Pushing X signifies your agreement to this."

Personally, I don't want updates. I want a ghu-damned MMORPG to play.

Dr Wu
"I Know This SuperHighway"

on the one hand it's craziness... (1)

puzmaster (446007) | more than 10 years ago | (#8359265)

i agree no one is going to wait for content to D/l every time they want to play online. the beauty of the console over a pc is the fact you can sit down and be playing almost straight away.

but on the other hand, this could be a pretty cool addition to live...

imagine being able to save a replay of your game and show it to your friends. or have user-created content like levels or customised cars that you could share.
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