Saturday, May 8, 2010

Thinking Outside The Xbox: Microsoft's Dilemma

Video games have come a long way since the days of Atari, Super Nintendo, and Sega Dreamcast. Every single aspect of the game experience has been enhanced incredibly with the ushering in of cutting-edge technology and epic artistic achievements. However, everything from the better visuals, to the improved realism and beyond has made the file size of games bigger and bigger! A trend is emerging that can be seen with games like Age of Conan. Being extremely large (between 32 and 50 gigabytes) is what helps these games take hi-definition gaming to the next level. The problem is games like this are well over Xbox 360’s DVD-9 gigabyte capacity. There are limited options for solving Microsoft Xbox 360’s file size dilemma, each with its own set of consequences.

There is no doubt that Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has been a part of this advancement. This system was the first home console to support Hi-Definition in their games and also the first to dramatically increase the quality of online connectivity in gaming. However, video games are advancing beyond what the Xbox 360 can handle. Steadily the average file size of a game is growing. Developers have found themselves challenged and limited due to a major design decision Microsoft made building the system. The decision was to use DVD’s as a game medium as the original Xbox and PS2 do. Microsoft in fact had been working to develop a new Hi-Definition Video Disc (a.k.a. HD-DVD) and it was set to go head on against Sony’s Blu Ray Digital Video Disc (a.k.a. BluRay DVD). When Robin Harris’ article “Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD: game over” was written major players Blockbuster, Netflix, and various others were deciding the fate of the so called ‘format wars’ and deciding Blu Ray was the future, not HD-DVD (Zdnet Blogs 2007). This could have been avoided if Microsoft included HD-DVD as the major format for the Xbox 360 both games and movies. We will never know for sure but instead we can look at moving forward and look at their options.

Perhaps the most plausible and most immediate solution that comes to my mind is the hard drive solution. In a blog post on his website, Ryan Brotherton expresses his frustrations with installing an incredibly large game by inserting multiple DVD discs into his PC and waiting for them to copy all of their files to his hard drive ( 2008). Although this is not a very elegant solution, the Xbox 360 COULD possibly support these very same types of huge installs. Currently some games on the Xbox 360 use multiple discs that are played in progression, so you are only playing with one in at a time; however this limits the player to only playing in linear worlds. Installing multiple DVD’s worth of content onto a massive hard drive instead would dramatically increase the size of the world the player is in, therefore also opening up a much more engaging experience.

Another tangible solution to the file size dilemma facing this Next-Generation console is the use of Next-Generation DVD’s, either HD-DVD or Blu Ray. Many people have speculated that the Xbox 360 would obtain a Blu Ray license from Sony and get their own Blu Ray drive; however neither Sony nor Microsoft execs have confirmed this as anything other than a rumor ( 2008). It may never happen. So instead, let us analyze the other option on the table for the Xbox 360. So Microsoft invented HD-DVD, why not start putting 360 games on it? There is an add-on HD-DVD player for sale for the system but is it capable of supporting games? Chris Faylor’s review of the situation indicates that it currently does not ( 2008). However, there is no definitive proof currently available that it is or is not possible for Xbox 360 to play games on HD-DVD format.

My conclusion is that, Microsoft will probably never get Blu Ray. I believe that games will continue to grow in size. The option of using HD-DVD for gaming is unclear and I believe that this should be researched a lot more. The large install option proposes the challenge of getting gamers to buy MORE equipment for their Xbox 360, which makes me think it is an unwise path to follow. The best option for Microsoft right now is to try to revive HD-DVD, even if only to play video games on it.

Written by Jon Ireson 1/18/08

Works Cited

Harris, R. (2007, June 20). Blu Ray vs. HD-DVD: game over. Retrieved January 18, 2009, from:
Brotherton, R. (2009). Age of Conan - Size Matters. Retrieved January 18, 2009, from:
Faylor, C. (2008, January 9). Microsoft May Consider Blu Ray Add On Retrieved January 18, 2009, from:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

30 Days and 30 Nights: The Warhawk Rant

Thanks to Dylan Jobe (President of LightBox Interactive), and Sony, Warhawk got another boost giving all of us core players and people who just got on board a great reason to continue playing this awesome 3 year old game. Holding a 30day tournament 24/7 with official servers and not team or clan bases brackets made this crazy fun grueling environment come to life causing some good effects and of course even more bad ones. Leaving you the player with a true test of your $K!L and dedication while trying to land one of those top 50 spots even if not going for the prize but just the prestige of topping 50,000+entries.

Well after a full 30 calendar days of competition in this Warhawk tourney I felt the need to share my experience. When we started off on the quest to the great champion’s blade it was exciting everything seemed to be on point. Arch enemy clan members working together side by side to achieve the common goal I was in awe of the team work and the unselfish acts that were being displayed on the battlefield. Sadly as expected it didn't last but a week or so till the true colors most of the self proclaimed best players in this great game started to become clear. This being primarily a "CTF" capture the flag tourney for most players seems to turn into more of a "TDM" or "ZNS" and all three modes are going on in this one game at the same time. Sounds insane doesn't it, well it was. There were teams of people concentrating only on a few bases taking them back when the enemy moved on while others were just killing machines never stepping foot on the ground leaving the guys who are attempting to win the game for the team sitting ducks for even just one player to break through and stop the flag.

Well that’s all part of the game and it is expected to a certain degree. However some players seemed to be there only to disrupt the tournament game play and acquire negative points as a joke at the same time causing a multitude of problems for all involved. Here are a few of the scenarios that transpired, and I won't be mentioning any names you know who you are it's good enough for me that you get to read it .Some guys with teams of people 2, 3,or even 4 grabbing the flag carrying it as far as possible and tossing it to the one guy they were working for. All the time not helping the other carriers till they got taken out making sure that he ended up scoring as much as possible. Also same team tactics included letting the carriers die then 15 planes swoop down and try to dig up the flag with no dignity or honor.

Then you have the guys who are on both teams working together for the common goal of cheating not even fighting just standing next to each other moving back and forth why even bother doesn't look fun at all from the videos i have seen, dummies. Also another from the guys on both teams acting like they are playing for the team but just killing the flag carrier and not saving it so the clan member or friend trying to win the competition still has time to pick it up. I am not talking about the guys at the bottom of the list either. Then you’ve always got the loner guy who doesn’t matter whose team he is on he's going to get his. By driving behind you with the jeep till you get out and ambient warfare you scoop the flag from your dead body and run it in. They also tend to stop the carriers vehicle long enough for the other team to kill him then repeat. Follow that up with a bunch off friends that just play for 3 or 4 hours call their buddy give him his password and so on makes it really tough to compete.

In the beginning the atmosphere was great but slowly it got to the point of constant swearing name calling with some people who should be setting an example for the rest to follow are doing the exact opposite and fueling the fire.

After all people are we not trying to preserve our favorite game and improve it welcoming new players and befriending the veterans not hating all downgrading the quality of play for everyone included. Sounds kind of foolish when you think about it yet it still exists and for some it’s the only reason they play (retarded). Anyway the folks over at Sony have assured that they are going over all the stats, videos, their own as well as submitted, with the feeling that its going to take at least a week to take out the trash. "Cheers", unfortunately you know as well as I most will slip through the cracks being that there are so many of them. So this in mind I have a few ideas I think would limit the amount of cheating virtually making it impossible to bank so many unjust points and get rewarded while others work at it with good intentions and get swept aside.

To start I know it is way more work but only put the servers up in each time zone for X amount of hours limit the certain groups that thrive in empty servers with no competition or enemies for that matter. This will most certainly make the best players stand out with limited time to score points daily the servers will remain full for the duration of that time zone. Also it will make said servers easier to patrol for the moderators which should be overhauled at this point anyhow, great idea but just isn't working properly. 50,000 + people only 50 get the championship blade and a shirt for home which is great. What about the other 49,950 nothing this will not bring out the most people only the same people that you already have do the math. Something small, penny cost even, will double the roster along with strong advertisement in the right places and don't worry am talking $00 cost. In the end this game will begin to thrive again with all the new players ranking up telling their friends how great it is bringing a whole new group of sales for the lets say "Shh" new game in the works Oh yeah!

In conclusion the various forms of cheating coupled with the rude and ignorant comments affected the game play for the entire community .Some small changes could fix many headaches closing the gap on those who choose to take the low road improving the level of play reviving the disappointed players ushering in a whole new era.
All in all the tournament was a good could have been great with lets just say a little more...

Here is what the standings were looking like when we last saw them before they began to take out the trash:

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