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The Xbox 360 Uncloaked

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the detected-by-an-anti-proton-beam dept.

118

Videogames may be nothing more than evening diversions to most Americans, but the industry as a whole is a multi-billion dollar heavyweight. Microsoft broke ground in the business when the Xbox launched in 2001, and came back swinging last year with the Xbox 360. The war for the seventh generation of game consoles has barely begun, and it's hard to know the score without a scorecard. We can get a good look at the odds, though, thanks to the reporting of Dean Takahashi. The author of the definitive book on the original Microsoft console, Opening the Xbox, offers the complete story of their next-gen offering in the recently published The Xbox 360 Uncloaked. A sometimes exhausting read that could have been more concisely edited, Uncloaked still highlights the human side of a complicated technical and business endeavor. Read on for my impressions of Takahashi's new look behind the curtains at Microsoft.When the original Microsoft console launched in 2001, the sequel system was already in the planning stages. Dubbed 'Xenon' as its codename, the Xbox 360 came together over the next four years in a flurry of effort from a series of dedicated teams. The Xbox 360 Uncloaked breaks that process down, takes the reader behind the scenes, and explains the entire process in layman's terms; From the lessons of the first Xbox to the launch day and beyond, the amount of information presented here is staggering.

The term staggering is meant literally. It's obvious from the tone of the book and the description of the process that the months after the original Xbox's launch were confusing and demoralizing. Many of the principle architects of Microsoft's first console left the company or moved to other projects, and the second generation of executives were hard pressed to restart the process after only a short break. Moreover, the console they'd worked so hard to see launched was only doing so-so in the marketplace. The result is a long period of soul-searching and analysis that lasted two years and covers 25 of the 53 short chapters in the book. This real life confusion and frustration translates into the book in the form of a fractured narrative.

The first 10 or 12 chapters of Uncloaked are very hard on the reader. Takahashi has deliberately used a lot of repetition to drill into the reader basic concepts, events, and characters; This is a mixed blessing. While the repetition results in basic information retention, combined with the muddled events it doesn't make for very entertaining reading. This problem is exacerbated by some lax editing. I read the book in eBook format, so I can't speak to the editing in the final print version, but at least the .pdf edition contained several unreadable sentences and nonsensical paragraphs that the editors simply missed.

I was beginning to be frustrated with the work when, like the executives on the 360 project, The Xbox 360 Uncloaked found a clear path and began driving forward. Right about the time that Robbie Bach and Co. found a way to tackle the project's scope, the writing focuses into the same cohesive voice readers of Takahashi's Mercury News column are used to. The chapters begin to fly by, with each successfully capturing a specific aspect of the 360 production process. From the famous meeting of CliffyB and Ed Fries at DICE 2003, to the exhaustive industrial design phase, all the way through the GDC and E3 events of last year, the tough choices and design decision are laid out for the reader. The final half-dozen chapters deal with the launch and the immediate aftermath.

What makes this book such an informative tome is the depth of information and the balance in the reporting. The author had a great deal of access to the principal figures involved in the creation of the console. What's refreshing, though, is how this access doesn't seem to have clouded his judgment of the events he bears witness to. In the final chapters he speculates on how Microsoft is poised within the console war, with some pointed observations on the console's launch that proves Takahashi is far from a company mouthpiece.

It's this outsider's viewpoint that ultimately makes The Xbox 360 Uncloaked a success. Takahashi looks at the creation of the Xbox with the dispassionate voice of a journalist. Hype and hyperbole surrounded the system's launch to such a degree that it was hard to see through the agendas held by the marketers, advertisers, and the fan press. This surprisingly lively business book condenses half a decade of effort into four hundred pages of mostly understandable prose. It provides insight into the players, the technology, and the corporate culture that has launched two remarkably popular game consoles in a span of six years. I definitely feel it could have been more thoroughly edited. That said, if you have any interest in the business climate at Microsoft or the process of creating a major work of consumer electronics, The Xbox 360 Uncloaked will lay out both the good and the bad of the 360's torturous journey to market.


You can purchase The Xbox 360 Uncloaked from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Sorta of a Dupe (2, Informative)

randomErr (172078) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430692)

This is sorta of a dupe. The book has been mentioned here [slashdot.org] before.

Re:Sorta of a Dupe (1)

grenz (969305) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431092)

Mentioning a book in one post and reviewing in another does not a dupe make. Far be it from me to defend an editor but it seems rather clear to me.

Re:Sorta of a Dupe (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431291)

But does the book mention the marketing genuis behind the concept of producing a console that practically no one could buy?

Re:Sorta of a Dupe (5, Funny)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431181)

Hrm. I'm sorry but dups have been mentioned before, so your post is a dupe as well.

BTW, what the hell am I supposed to get out of a post telling me an article is a dupe anyway?

Re:Sorta of a Dupe (1)

yfkar (866011) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431294)

Probably not more than from a post that tells that dupes have been mentioned before.

Hmm... this could go on forever...

Re:Sorta of a Dupe (1)

xtaski (457801) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431567)

Hmm... this could go on forever...

Duped.

Re:Sorta of a Dupe (1)

TouchOfRed (785130) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432317)

It very may well.. but imagine a beowulf cluster of these books!

Ah damn, not that handy at all :(

Re:Sorta of a Dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15432465)

It won't go on forever. Eventually you reach a deep enough level of nesting that that level has never been reached before, and it's no longer a dupe.

Re:Sorta of a Dupe (5, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431641)

BTW, what the hell am I supposed to get out of a post telling me an article is a dupe anyway?

Duhhhh, it's so you can go back to the original, copy the contents of all the +5 comments, and paste them into this discussion.

Re:Sorta of a Dupe (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431911)

It can stop your paranoia caused by all those glitches in the matrix you would otherwise assume as the only reasonable explanation.

Re:Sorta of a Dupe (1)

Jaruzel (804522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433569)

Woah, Deja Vu.

Not at all (1)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431765)

Most "articles" posted to slashdot are simply summaries linking to actual articles, such as the "mentioned here before" link you posted.

Book reviews and other articles such as this one are written entirely by the slashdot readers and/or staff. You'll notice there are no links in this article because it is an origional work. AFAIK, Zonk didn't just allow this article to be posted (as the editors do with most "articles") but actually read the book and wrote them summary.

Re:Sorta of a Dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15432714)

Your use of the word "of" is a dupe, when you say "Sorta of a dupe".

Sorta means "sort of"

Re:Sorta of a Dupe (1)

Simon Garlick (104721) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433610)

Jesus H. Knob-gobbling Christ, d'ya reckon you could mix a few more metaphors in there? Your proficiency in English is a blank slate where the hand of man has never set foot.

Erm...? (5, Insightful)

Exsam (768226) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430695)

I have to wonder why this was given a 7 if the book was so badly edited, written and completely boring 5/6 of the time.

You have to ask? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15430718)

Zonk really, really likes the XBox 360. If nothing else he would have to like this book just becuase it gives him an excuse to put the XBox 360 on the Slashdot front page.

Re:Erm...? (3, Insightful)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430806)

As far as 1 to 10 ratings go, 7 is 0 for all intents. Given that a reviewer has to weigh commercial interests when doing the review, or never be able to do a review from that source again, you can adjust the rating scale appropriately by simple starting at 7. Since 7 is 0, 10 is three and we now have a much more meaningful scale. Anything under 7 is fuel for those long winter nights.

Re:Erm...? (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430820)

I have to wonder why this was given a 7 if the book was so badly edited, written and completely boring 5/6 of the time.

Read the review again. Then read some of his other reviews. From his writing style, I think you might conclude that "badly edited, written and completely boring 5/6 of the time" is actually high praise.

Re:Erm...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15430839)

This was given a 7 BECAUSE the book was so badly edited, written and completely boring 5/6 of the time.

You need to be reminded of the Slashdot Book Rating System (c) AC.

> 9 - Great book. Go buy it.
9 - Average book. Only read the book if you are particularly interested in the subject.

< 9 - Bad book. Avoid this book.

Re:Erm...? (1)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431925)

Even if this book would get 11/10 i still wouldn't buy it,
i've got useful purposes for my money and time.

Who in the freaking hell needs a book about Xbox(n) ?

Re:Erm...? (0, Troll)

Babbster (107076) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431967)

Who in the freaking hell needs a book about Xbox(n) ?

I'm just guessing here, but probably a slightly greater number of people than needed a comment on Slashdot asking that question...

Re:Erm...? (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430858)

Zonk normally reviews games on /. If you've ever read video game reviews, you'd know that 7/10 is the baseline for anything that has any redeeming value whatsoever. I really wish they'd enforce a movie-style ratings scale, 0 to 4 stars with .5 increments. 0 to 10 seems to throw people off.

Re:Erm...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15430994)

I really wish they'd enforce a movie-style ratings scale, 0 to 4 stars with .5 increments. 0 to 10 seems to throw people off.

Like at IMDB?

Tags: firezonk plonkzonk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15430874)

firezonk plonkzonk

Re:Erm...? (2, Funny)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431161)

I have to wonder why this was given a 7 if the book was so badly edited, written and completely boring 5/6 of the time.

This [wikipedia.org] should help explain the rating.

Re:Erm...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15432605)

Huh? You have a slashdot account but don't like things that are "badly edited, written and completely boring 5/6 of the time"?

Wow (-1, Offtopic)

mwilliamson (672411) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430696)

Pointless and off topic, but FIRST POST!

Re:Wow (5, Funny)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430730)

Pointless and off topic, but FIRST POST!

Suppose two out of three ain't bad.

Editing (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15430706)

While the repetition results in basic information retention, combined with the muddled events it doesn't make for very entertaining reading. This problem is exacerbated by some lax editing. I read the book in eBook format, so I can't speak to the editing in the final print version, but at least the .pdf edition contained several unreadable sentences and nonsensical paragraphs that the editors simply missed.

The words "pot", "kettle", and "black" come to mind.

Re:Editing (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15431078)

This problem is exacerbated by some lax editing.

Wait, are the Slashdot editors part of the editors of this book? ;)

Re:Editing (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431841)

This problem is exacerbated by some lax editing.

Wait, are the Slashdot editors part of the editors of this book? ;)

No, it said lax editing, not nonexistent.

Re:Editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15431691)

I don't get it.

Re:Editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15432523)

Cauldron? It's cauldron isn't it?

Sounds interesting (2, Interesting)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430714)

Sounds like an interesting book, but I still plan on not buying an XBox of any sort. I am just happy with my KnoppMyth [mysettopbox.tv] distribution, which also comes with MAME. I can still kick your ass in Asteroids.

Re:Sounds interesting (2, Funny)

MSFanBoi2 (930319) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430773)

I bet you still like Parachute Pants and cassette tapes too...

Re:Sounds interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15430830)

Oh snap!

Re:Sounds interesting (2, Funny)

rdoger6424 (879843) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431033)

Stop! Hammertime!

Re:Sounds interesting (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430975)

Heh, Asteroids you say! Sniff, I don't need any fancy graphics to enjoy myself! Give me a dirt field and a tin can and I'll be as happy as a jay bird! Yessiree, none of Mr. Edison's black magic required, no sir!

Re:Sounds interesting (1)

lotsotech (848683) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431022)

I don't think you can really compare your PC running a bunch of 15 year old bootlegs to a 360. A lot of those games were fun in the same way slot machines are fun. It's all about the return on the quarter and not so much thrilling gaming (nostalgia aside).

Re:Sounds interesting (1)

bwcarty (660606) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431104)

Asteroids, eh? You should try Geometry Wars. :)

Re:Sounds interesting (1)

acomj (20611) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432887)

geometry wars?

My triangle can kick your rhombus's butt!

Re:Sounds interesting (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433761)

But my Tempest polygon kicks your suspiciously similar GW polygon's arse in turn.

Re:Sounds interesting (1)

dabadab (126782) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431131)

Well, I guess, the original X-Box is the perfect platform for running MPlayer and MAME :)

Saw my first XBox yesterday. (0, Offtopic)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430766)

I don't know if the X-Box came out this past winter or the winter before, but yesterday while shopping for light bulbs and laundry soap, I saw two XBox 360s in a store. Those were the first ones I've ever seen.

Now, I have a first-generation XBox, and a couple of games. I don't play it, but I have guests who frequently do.

Anyway, I bought my XBox on a whim, when it just really seemed cheap. I'm sure if I get a 360, it will be for the same reason -- the "new" will have left its marketplace, and it will be, say, half the current retail price. By then, there might even be some interesting games for the platform.

Re:Saw my first XBox yesterday. (1)

Richthofen80 (412488) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432891)

I feel the same way. My friends all have newer computers , but I bought this 386 on a lark. Man , was it cheap. and it definitely didn't have any of that sense of 'newness'. God I hate that. I don't use it, but once in a while my friends will come over and boot up wordperfect.

Literally (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15430767)

the amount of information presented here is staggering. The term staggering is meant literally.

No, it isn't.

Re:Literally (4, Funny)

Golias (176380) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430798)

Best nitpick of the week! Thank you, AC, for reminding me why I still keep my reading threshold at 0. :)

Re:Literally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15430865)

dude, zonk took time to state that something should be taken literally -- when the statement is clearly was meant to be taken figuratively.

Or perhaps you belive that the information was having trouble walking??

Moron

Re:Literally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15430890)

I believe Golias's comment truly was meant to be taken literally. He was agreeing with me, not being sarcastic. Maybe.

Obl. Simpsons Quote (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430942)

"Pffft. I don't even know anymore."

Re:Literally (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430905)

"dude, zonk took time to state that something should be taken literally -- when the statement is clearly was meant to be taken figuratively.

Or perhaps you belive that the information was having trouble walking??

Moron"

I am pretty sure Zonk was using this meaning for "staggering" -

transitive senses
1 : to cause to doubt or hesitate : PERPLEX
http://www.webster.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?sourceid =Mozilla-search&va=staggering [webster.com]

Isn't it hard to see the ground up there on your high horse???

Re:Literally (1)

Ninjaesque One (902204) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432098)

You know, figurative meanings can be accepted ones.

Re:Literally (1)

seek31337 (520238) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431490)

staggering (stg'r-ng) pronunciation
adj.

Causing great astonishment, amazement, or dismay; overwhelming: a staggering achievement; a staggering defeat.

Re:Literally (2, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430804)

Maybe Zonk is very weak, and the book is very heavy. Perhaps someone hit Zonk over the head with the book. It could be that the information contained in the book is so shocking that reading it causes loss of equilibrium. You never know...

Re:Literally (1)

Sneeper (182316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432138)

Maybe Zonk is very weak, and the book is very heavy. Perhaps someone hit Zonk over the head with the book.

Given that Zonk said he read it in PDF form, that'd be most impressive.

Re:Literally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15431204)

Yes it is [reference.com] (see no. 2).

Product development (2, Insightful)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430808)

From what I've read so far, people involved in product design or product development might enjoy this book. Then again, the story might feel all too familiar.

Re:Product development (1)

MrSquirrel (976630) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430832)

Sounds interesting, but for the cost of the book ($25) I could buy a decent used game (or rent several). I'd rather be PLAYING video games than reading about them (don't get me wrong, I love a good book, but $25 for a 7/10 just doesn't seem worth it).

Re:Product development (1)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431335)

$25 for a 7/10 just doesn't seem worth it

And so the inventor of the Book Review dies happy.

Re:Product development (1)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431637)

what does this response have to do with my post on product development?

I'm still looking for Mechassault (0, Offtopic)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430856)

I've been looking for the version of Mechassault that lets you do the classic XBox linux loader trick.
All the xbox mod sites make it sound like Mechassault is easy to find, taken for granted, but the hole was fixed a long, long time ago, and I've never seen a first-edition game.

Re:I'm still looking for Mechassault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15430893)

Found one used at EBGames for $3 last month, when I finally gave in, bought an Xbox and hacked the everlovin' snot out of it. There are other games that allow the hack, too - the original Splinter Cell and 007: Agent Under Fire (original versions of both games).

You might want to try Half.com.

Re:I'm still looking for Mechassault (2, Funny)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431058)

"There are other games that allow the hack, too - the original Splinter Cell and 007: Agent Under Fire (original versions of both games)."

I was just using Mechassault as an example. I'd settle for any those as well. I don't expect anyone to explicitly put in their ad "this is the version you need to boot Linux on an X-Box", but why not?

Re:I'm still looking for Mechassault (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431852)

Personally I strolled into a used game store and bought 007:AuF. It was a good working way to do this, because I got to see the box, and know it was the original release. People often take pictures of products they put on ebay; you can also ask ebay sellers questions. Have a nice day!

Re:I'm still looking for Mechassault (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 7 years ago | (#15430904)

http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?from=R40& satitle=mechassault [ebay.com] Bam, it will cost you about 5 bucks plus another 5 to ship it Paypal makes it all easy and you can just message the seller to ask what version it is.

Re:I'm still looking for Mechassault (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431031)


"http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?from=R40 & satitle=mechassault Bam, it will cost you about 5 bucks plus another 5 to ship it Paypal makes it all easy and you can just message the seller to ask what version it is.
"

But how do I know it's the right version? That game was re-released and not renamed, with the exploit fixed.

These Ebay auctions don't specify.

Re:I'm still looking for Mechassault (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431060)

I ahve a copy of mech assault I never finished. What is this exploit that you speak of?

Re:I'm still looking for Mechassault (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431141)

>I ahve a copy of mech assault I never finished. What is this exploit that you speak of?

The no-modchip way to boot Linux on a first-generation XBox is to put a boot loader in a
savegame, which can be loaded from the original version of MechAssault.

That certainly the first edition of MechAssault a sought-after item, since the game was "fixed" for later editions.
Now the MechAssault game is common as dirt in stores and rental shops, but I never see the original edition. Later editions have been out long enough that I have to assume the resale market is polluted with those. Sellers never seem to know what I'm talking about when I ask.

I want the mod, and I'd pay a premium for a guarantee that I could get the correct version. I think it would be nice to have an over-the-table source for such things. I don't think there's anything clandestine about it (which there might be with modchips).

Re:I'm still looking for Mechassault (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431217)

Personally I would just flat out ignore the law, mod chip it, run XMBC or linux or whatever and not care that I am "doing something illegal"

Re:I'm still looking for Mechassault (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431323)

Personally I would just flat out ignore the law, mod chip it, run XMBC or linux or whatever and not care that I am "doing something illegal"

Oh, I don't care about "illegal" in the first place, and it is not illegal where I live to modchip an XBox. But then it's more effort than I want to put into it.

I'm just sincerely looking for the MechAssault game to do the softmod with, and it bothers me that it's hard to find.

Re:I'm still looking for Mechassault (2, Interesting)

lordeldor (978027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431686)

What everyone seems to overlook on this topic is that MechAssault is not the only title that had this exploit in it. There were at least three different games that had it. Mechassault, 007, and Splintercell (The original title). Now both MechAssault, and 007 have been fixed. However they NEVER fixed the exploit in SplinterCell. Every version of the original SplinterCell released, including the Platinum Hits version includes the exploit. The last time I grabbed the game for this purpose, i got it at a Game Stop for under $5 US. Not to mention there was a stack of at least ten of them....So stop beating yourself up, and buy Splinter Cell.

Oh, and just so you guys know the splintercell gamesave is found in the usual places in the same directory as the MechAssault gamesave.

Re:I'm still looking for Mechassault (1)

paintballer1087 (910920) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432265)

if nothing else, you could do what i did, just do a hotswap that automatically installs the exploit, there are a few different ones out there but the one i used was shademand's readymad xbox softmod [afterdawn.com] ...it worked great and was pretty easy once i figured it out

Re:I'm still looking for Mechassault (1)

JL-b8 (862188) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431015)

I think there was a dashboard update that fixed that softmod.. There's also golden eye and even a splinter cell exploit too.

cB0m (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15430959)

in a Head spinning

404 Pages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15431044)

So does that mean information not found? (Bad joke, couldn't resist.)

Uncloaking? (3, Funny)

Das Auge (597142) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431088)

Fire!

Buy it here! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15431268)

Save yourself some money by buying the book here: The Xbox 360 Uncloaked [amazon.com] . And if you use the "secret" A9.com Instant Reward discount [amazon.com] , you can save an extra 1.57%!

Is nobody going to call Zonk on this? (5, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431273)

Microsoft broke ground in the business when the Xbox launched in 2001, and came back swinging last year with the Xbox 360.

Microsoft had it's foot pretty far in the door when they launched the original Xbox. It is true that they were not in the console market but that is not the context of the quote. Zonk is talking about the videogame market as a whole and therefore is wrong. Microsoft developed and released PC videogames for years before the Xbox and they were in the gaming hardware business too. I remember owning a Microsoft flight stick that I used for a long time (until it broke from too much X-Wing). I also owned Fury^2 and I think that game came out in the 90's. So Microsoft had been in the videogame business for some time before the Xbox came out and we should not forget that.

Re:Is nobody going to call Zonk on this? (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431475)

I remember owning a Microsoft flight stick that I used for a long time (until it broke from too much X-Wing).

That game was one hell of a joystick killer. I bet I destroyed 2-3 joysticks primarily from playing X-wing.

Used them a lot more back then, though. That was before the wasd+mouse combo had become popular for movement/look input in FPS games, so my first jaunts through Doom and Dark Forces (and maybe even Dark Forces II, I can't remember for sure) were joystick-intensive experiences.

Sorry, offtopic, just enjoying some nostalgia :)

Re:Is nobody going to call Zonk on this? (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431665)

Microsoft was not a household name in gaming until the Xbox. Before then, the only people who said it in conjunction with gaming at all were mostly heard to say things like "Microsoft is making the next Mechwarrior game? Fuck!"

Once the Xbox came out, not only was Microsoft a prominent name in gaming, but it was only related to cursing them out half the time (like when your Xbox drive died, or when your Xbox 360 overheated, or...)

Re:Is nobody going to call Zonk on this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15431898)

And strangely, it was the best of the series... which I still play (well, Mech 4 Mercenaries technically) fairly regularly. Lately I've had a nagging urge to play Hellbender (the MS-published sequel to Terminal Velocity) again, but I can't find the disc anywhere.

Re:Is nobody going to call Zonk on this? (1)

JFMulder (59706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432680)

Oh my god... Terminal Velocity... I still have the original CD right next to be in my library. That was such a great game. I first tried that game on the demo CD that came with my gravis gamepad when my parents boughts a Pentium 133 back in 1995. I loved the demo so much that I bought the full version of the game. Fond memories... Thanks for trip down the memory lane.

Re:Is nobody going to call Zonk on this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15432409)

Fury was licensed from 3DRealms and based on the engine used in the Terminal Velocity game.

Microsoft may have written the story and done some other things to make it their own but it's mostly just Terminal Velocity with different graphics and music.

If you want to be picky, MS's first games were possibly the set of Qbasic games that used to ship with WindowsNT and I think they actually went back to DOS pre-Windows 3.x.

There was one game where your ape threw explosive bananas at another ape and the other one was a snake game just like you find on cellphones.

Had great fun with both of those especially finding them on computers that had been stripped of anything possibly related to fun. The old .BAS stuff often got left behind.

Re:Is nobody going to call Zonk on this? (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432753)

The QBasic games definitely came with DOS 5.21/5.22. Gorilla.bas and nibbles.bas were great games. :)

Huh? (1)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431361)

I thought "Hype" was short for "Hyperbole".

Don't believe the. . .never mind.

seven generations (1)

panic911 (224370) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431584)

I know this is slightly off-topic, but the article calls the xbox360 a seventh generation console. What are the seven generations of consoles? I can only think of 6 (atari, nes, snes/genesis, psx/n64/dreamcast, ps2/xbox/gamecube, xbox360). Were there two "generations" before NES? That's a little before my time.

Re:seven generations (2, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431667)

"Generation" is a tough term when it comes to consoles. Arguably, the Dreamcast was its own generation, since it was more or less dead and gone before Gamecube and Xbox joined the PS2.

Wikipedia claims 7 generations, with the PS3/Xbox 360/Wii being the 7th, so we can go with that.

Re:seven generations (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432661)

When I had a ColecoVision, all the game magazines told me I was cool because I had a "Third Generation System".

Now Wikipedia has downrated my poor Coleco to "Later second generation". BOO.

I figure the consoles that caused the Video Game Crash deserve their own "generation". (Plus the graphics were sigificantly better than the previous systems. A Coleco/5200 is closer to a NES than a 2600.)

Re:seven generations (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431673)

> I can only think of 6 (atari, nes, snes/genesis, psx/n64/dreamcast, ps2/xbox/gamecube, xbox360). Were there two "generations" before NES? That's a little before my time.

Pong.

Re:seven generations (1)

nic barajas (750051) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431910)

You can look at the Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] on video game consoles, but PONG, the Coleco Telstar and the Magnavox Odyssey were considered the first generation. After that came the Atari/ColecoVision generation. Also, you've got your generations mixed up. Dreamcast wasn't in the same generation as Nintendo 64 -- that was Saturn (which nobody remembers 'cause it sucked anyhow). Dreamcast was part of the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube generation, but I guess the confusion could stem from its release coming in the tail of the previous generation and getting crushed by PlayStation 2.

Re:seven generations (1)

woot account (886113) | more than 7 years ago | (#15431913)

Slightly OT, but the Sega Saturn still remains my favorite console to this day.

Yes, SEVEN generations (5, Informative)

Rosebud128 (930419) | more than 7 years ago | (#15432016)

-First Generation-

(You could not change the games on the first generation of consoles)

Pong (and all its clones including Ninendo's "Light Tennis")
Break-Out (a Pong spin-off!)

Most consoles revolved around Pong this generation. At the latter end of this console cycle, more creativity was being put in the games with some companies putting out racing and puzzle games (as appeared in Japan).

-Second Generation-

These are the first consoles that could use cartridges. It took a while for the public to realize the machine could play more than one game!

Atari 2600 and the Channel F launched near the same time. But with the public bored of Pong, Channel F eventually exited the market deciding that the public had enough of 'video games'. (Channel F's games were awful anyway). This gave the market entirely to Atari 2600 which began to surge when the home version of Space Invaders came out. Newcomers such as Intellivision entered the market. Colecovision, a late newcomer to the market, bundled its console with a sweet exclusive deal with Nintendo's Donkey Kong. Colecovision also somehow legally won a court case to play all of Atari 2600's hundred games as well on its machine.

With the meteoric profits (Atari, at the time, was the fastest money making business in American history), many 'get-rich-quick' schemers came in who had no business making games (General Oats and Colgate for example). Atari hurt itself by putting out bad games such as E.T. and a poor port of Pac-Man. The market was flooded by games in 1983. With the rise of personal computers and games like Custer's Revenge and Death Race getting bad press, the console market collapsed. Retailers wouldn't even stock game consoles.

-Third Generation-

-NES
-Master System
-Atari console (dead anyway)

Nintendo's Famicom takes over Japan and is re-christened as the 'NES' for America. Nintendo puts in a toy robot and calls it the 'Entertainment System' to convince retailers that it wasn't exactly one of those hated 'video game consoles'. NES sales kept growing and growing with 90% market share. Sega's Master System had whatever was left (not much!).

Nintendo created lock-out chips and draconian licensing deals to avoid the fate of Atari. Third parties were looking for a console not as draconian as Ninetndo's.

The Gameboy is included in this generation.

-Fourth Generation-

-Sega Megadrive
-Super Nintendo
-NEC's PC-Engine (Turbo-graphix 16)

Sega, humiliated with the Master System's poor performance, stepped up with the Megadrive (Genesis in America). Trip Hawkins of Electronic Arts, annoyed that he missed the NES bandwagon, wanted to be the first third party on the Genesis. However, when Sega tried to put EA under a Nintendo style licensing deal, Hawkins told Sega that EA had reverse engineered the Genesis. They were going to make games for their system whether Sega liked it or not. So EA dictated the terms of their licensing agreement. Afterword, Sega quickly put in lockout codes into future Genesis/Megadrive consoles. Third parties, anxious to leave Nintendo, came but were disapointed that Sega wanted to BECOME Nintendo.

Nintendo took Japan, Sega took Europe, while both were tied in America. Sega introduced some extremely aggressive and effective marketing but Sega lost its momentum of putting out games. Nintendo stepped up with reclaiming third parties and put out hot games such as Super Metroid and Donkey Kong Country to have the SNES outsell Genesis in America again.

The PC-Engine from the giant computer maker NEC (NEC's research and development at that time exceeded the ENTIRE companies of Nintendo and Sega) came in second place in Japan and somewhat flopped in America. Nintendo and Sega's fear was that NEC could easily become a vertical monopoly. NEC owned their own manufacturing plants and chip R&D. You just cannot compete with a vertical monopoly. NEC would eventually exit the console market.

Sega began to put out too many console upgrades (Sega CD and 32X). Sony pissed off Nintendo with their profit demands on a cd system. Nintendo, likewise, pissed Sony off by going to Phillips behind their back prompting Sony to enter the console market. Nintendo also began to stumble with the flop that was the Virtual Boy.

-Generation Five-

-Playstation
-Sega Saturn
-Nintendo 64
-Other consoles (Atari Jaguar, Trip Hawkin's 3DO, etc. All failures.)

Sony's Playstation wows the industry and was what third parties were looking for as they all jump to the Playstation. The Sega Saturn, a last-minute hardware jumbled together, sold initially well in Japan but was soon eclipsed with the Playstation dominating all three markets. The costly Saturn, along with Sega's bad internal accounting and cutting off cashflow and support of previous systems, drowned the company in a canyon of debt it could never climb out from. Nintendo entered the market too late, stuck to a costly format, wasn't focused on winning over third parties, and came to a second place.

-Sixth Generation-

-Sega Dreamcast
-Sony Playstation 2
-Nintendo Gamecube
-Microsoft Xbox

Sega teamed up with NEC and Microsoft for the Dreamcast which further piqued Microsoft's interest into the console market. PS2 hype and its launch would kill off whatever sliver of a hope the Dreamcast had left. Sega leaves the console market.

The Gamecube and Xbox both launch days near each other nearly a year the PS2 had been on market. Internal Nintendo teams practically stop making games for the Gamecube as the company undergoes a full restructure after Yamauchi steps down. Gamecube sold best in America but did fairly poor in Japan and Europe.

The Xbox completely flopped in Japan. It sold decently in Europe but sold strongly in America. The Xbox is eerily similiar to the PC-Engine. Both made by huge computer companies and the consoles sell very well only locally. Worldwide, the Xbox and PC-Engine cannot sell. Microsoft loses $5 billion over the four years of the Xbox.

The Gameboy Advance is also part of this generation.

-Seventh Generation-

-Wii
-PS3
-Xbox 360

Seventh generation began with the DS and PSP. Dramtic industry reversals came at the DS's success. The DS and PSP sell fairly evenly in America (both still being outsold by the GBA hilariously). DS is well ahead of the PSP in Europe. In Japan, the DS became a phenomenon. Currently, the DS sells more units in a month in Japan than the PSP does worldwide. While PSP hardware is selling decently, PSP software is selling at atrocious levels.

The Xbox 360, hurt by production issues, is currently selling near the same pace as the original Xbox. The software attachment rate for the Xbox 360 was actually a little below the original Xbox until Obvlivion and GRAW came out (now, the software attachment rate is a little above the first Xbox. Nothing spectacular). The Xbox 360 has completely flopped in Japan and shows no signs of recovering.

With the Xbox 360 floppage in Japan and how the software keeps targetting the same exact demographic (young males who like FPS and racing games), the Xbox 360 will probably not exceed the original Xbox numbers. This is why games that hit other demographics such as Viva Pinata are so important. Xbox 360 + 4 years of Live is the same price as a Playstation 3. Both the 360 and PS3 is priced very high.

The dark horse is the Wii. Nintendo has said its strategy is the Blue Ocean Strategy and the plan is to create the most diverse and vast library of games. Nintendo has abandoned its 'greater hardware' strategy that the SNES, N64, and Gamecube held. Now, Nintendo has began its 'largest library' strategy that hits as many demographics as possible. The Virtual Console is a part of this strategy. This is also why Nintendo is investing heavily in expanding its development teams in both Japan and America. It is why the Wii had the most playable games at E3.

I expect the Wii to dominate Japan, do decently better than the PS3 and Xbox 360 in Europe. America is more of a toss-up as that is now Nintendo's weakest market. But it is also Mircrosoft's strongest market which will chip away at Sony's sales there. It is all too early to tell but the DS vs. PSP might be a forshadowing of what is to come.

Re:Yes, SEVEN generations (1)

be-fan (61476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432125)

Excellent summary!

The only point I have to add is that if Nintendo does actually accrue a large library of games with a lot of variety and depth, it'll do very well. However, it has to overcome the legacy of the N64 and Gamecube, both of which were actually good consoles, but were hampered by their narrow libraries.

Re:Yes, SEVEN generations (1)

Deadguy2322 (761832) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432577)

One difference between the PCEngine/TurboGrafx16 succeeding in Japan but failing elsewhere had a lot to do with the software licensing issues they ran into in North America and Europe. Many of the best games for the PCE platform were licensed from other developers, including SEGA and Hudson. SEGA did not want to compete against it's own games being sold on a platform they made less money on, and Hudson, Taito, Asmik and others were under draconian exclusivity deals with Nintendo of America, meaning they'd have to license their games to another publisher for the TG-16. Lack of games lead to low sales, giving low market share, meaning nobody aside from NEC wanted to publish games for the system, and NEC didn't want to pay fees to license other companies' games when they could put out their own for free. Xbox failed in Japan because gamers there don't like Madden or FPS games.

Re:seven generations (1)

joshetc (955226) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432358)

why not:

atari
nes
snes / genesis
psx / n64 / saturn
dreamcast / ps2
xbox / gamecube
xbox360 / wii / ps3

?

Re:seven generations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15433117)

abacus.

What kind of book is this? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432518)

Is this like a "Wow, it plays my favorite game really fast" book, or a "Synchronizing the second level cache between the 3 CPUs uses roughly 28% of the interconnect bandwidth" book, or a "Shaumus Blackley was forced off the project after a meeting where he..." book?

Re:What kind of book is this? (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432999)

Someone mod parent insightful. That is a damn good question.

mod d0wn (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15432963)

AT&T and Berkeley Shit-filled, unless you can work of user base for has significantly BSD style.' In the dying' crowd - developers. The Raadt's stubborn [samag.com] in t
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