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Microsoft XBox (Games) Games

New Xbox Experience Goes Live 332

Posted by Soulskill
from the quick-get-some-of-those-mii-things dept.
Today, Microsoft launched the New Xbox Experience for Xbox Live. The list of new features includes the streaming of TV shows and movies through Netflix, the ability to install games to the HDD, an avatar system, and the Community Games platform. The launch itself was shaky at first, but most issues have been smoothed out. Sony-owned Columbia Pictures immediately pulled their movie selection, though it may return when a licensing deal gets worked out. Halo 3 developer Bungie pointed out that not all games will run faster when installed to a HDD because of the way the games already interact with the drive.
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New Xbox Experience Goes Live

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  • by Tei (520358) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:38AM (#25829893) Journal

    It seems games already use the HD, if exist:

    "In a post on the Bungie forums, engineer Mat Noguchi explains that the slower loading after a full HDD install is a direct result of how the game was designed to use the HDD in the first place. "When Halo 3 runs, if a HDD is present, we copy maps from the DVD to the utility partition on the HDD," says Noguchi. "And as a result, it means that even if Halo 3 is already installed to the HDD, it will still copy maps to the utility partition."

    The problem is games that still try to use the harddisk ....again. For a PC game, this looks like really easy fix, but I have no idea for a console, as a console is locked down hardware ..for the user and the game dev.. I don't know.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Actually, the problem is that even though the game is "installed" to the HD, it's not really installed. It's just a disc image copied to the HD and mounted so the game thinks it's accessing the disc, same as before. This way, no games have to change their code to work this way. The downside is the case of Halo 3 (and some other games) where they used the HD already. Now it's using the HD as a "disc" and for caching, which wouldn't be necessary if they knew they were running entirely from the disc. Ther
    • by CambodiaSam (1153015) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @11:06AM (#25832193)
      I gave this a try with Call of Duty 4. After installing it to the HD the most noticeable difference was not with performance, but that the jet engine noise of the DVD reader was gone.

      That improvement alone is worth it for me. Has anyone tried installing GTA4 to the HD? That's a game that might have a significant improvement in performance.
  • defectivebydesign (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robvangelder (472838) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:47AM (#25829927)

    I'm so sick of this tag showing up under each microsoft article.
    we're at 3 comments posted, and already the tag exists.

    either installed by an alliance of hardcore slashdotters, or by the admins themselves.
    the preferences bug prevents hiding tags. it feeds the conspiracy theorist in me.

    either way, it smacks of the behaviour politicians employ just before losing an election.

    • by MBraynard (653724) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:30AM (#25830329) Journal
      Tags on slashdot are non-functional. They are like the new joke, the new 'from the xxx dept' line.
    • by MasterOfMagic (151058) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:52AM (#25831451) Journal

      "Defective by design" is one of the phrases the FSF uses to describe DRM. The Xbox 360 has DRM, there's no question about that. You can't just copy a game using a DVD burner and play it even if you own a copy of the game. It makes backing up your games (and yes with a bunch of drunk frat boys, it makes sense to not have to sink $60 into another copy of the game because someone got drunk and played Frisbee with it) impossible without modifying your console. If you modify your console, however, Microsoft has said that they will ban you because they assume that you will be playing "pirated" games or are cheating on Xbox Live.

      While the NXE helps a little in this regard (you can copy games to the hard drive), it also doesn't completely solve the problem (you need to have the original game in the drive to start the game).

      Don't even get me started on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday November 20, 2008 @10:29AM (#25831779)
        If we're going to start slapping that label on everything that has any DRM in it, we had might as well just make it appear by default on every story on /. There is very little software, media, or hardware released today that DOESN'T have some form of DRM attached.
      • by cowscows (103644)

        Every console has copy protection of some sort. If you put the defectivebydesign tag on every story that's console related, then that tag quickly becomes useless for its intended purpose, which supposedly is to make certain topics easier to find.

        Instead, tags pretty much immediately became just another way of making "political" anonymous comments.

        I guess my point is that tags on /. are a complete failure, and should be removed.

      • Re:defectivebydesign (Score:5, Informative)

        by yyr (1289270) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @03:41PM (#25836239) Homepage
        The 360's DRM is very well-designed and not at all intrusive. It is set up in the best way possible to prevent piracy without bothering the end user. Content purchased on Marketplace can be used on your console, on an unlimited basis, by any user of that console. But if you sign into Xbox Live from ANY Xbox 360 console--no matter who owns it--you can still access all of the content you purchased on your account. (Other users of that console, however, can not.) Furthermore, if you buy a new console, send yours in for repair and get back a different one, etc. you can transfer all of your licenses to a different console. This can only be done once a year but it's a nice ability to have. This is way more lenient than the Wii's DRM, which locks all content to your console no matter what. You can't transfer licenses under any circumstances, and you can't back up your purchased content and play it on a different console. The PS3 uses two different DRM schemes dependent on the content you're buying. One is too lax (allows five installs on any consoles, with no protection against piracy of the other four installs), the other is too strict (only allows the purchaser to play; other users of the same console are locked out). Individual games like SingStar also have their own DRM schemes on top of that. So yes, I'll gladly take the 360's DRM any day.
    • either way, it smacks of the behaviour politicians employ just before losing an election.

      So... you're saying that the tag system won't be our next president? I'm confused.

    • by Artifex (18308)

      I think the tag's fine. I still can't plug in any hard drive I want to the USB port and have it download content to it. It'll read my content, but won't let me add the stuff I buy online. I have to spend tons of money on an official 360 drive that I then have to swap out for my current one, rendering it obsolete, if I want more space.

      It's got intentional limitations placed on me that have no need to be there. It's defective. By design.

      • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @12:34PM (#25833505)

        Yes, but no game console in history has allowed you to do that, so it would be hard to argue it as being "defective". I mean, a Model T didn't have seatbelts, does that make it "defective by design?"

        Maybe when talking about the Xbox 360 they should make the tag "lacking-a-feature-I-would-like-to-have-by-design." Not as catchy though.

  • New features rock. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frac O Mac (1138427) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:49AM (#25829933)
    Quite a few of them should have been implemented long ago but if nothing else, this makes the xbox just that much better. Its not mentioned in the summary but the new party system is awesome; I can chat with all my friends at the same time even if someone has to leave and come back, and we don't even have to go through all the menus. While this update may not be too newsworthy for many out there, for people like me who play their 360 far too much (left 4 dead ftw atm!) this is a huge increase in overall functionality.
  • by philspear (1142299) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:53AM (#25829951)

    I'm slightly embarassed to say it, but I really like the update.

    I love the streaming videos more than I probably should. In fact, I'm going to say I love it for the exact reasons I play games on the console rather than the PC in the first place: I don't like messing around with the PC settings at all when I'm trying to entertain myself. The netflix streaming videos didn't work instantly on my PC and I never bothered with it again, on the console it worked immediately. Call that laziness if you want, I'll just turn around and call you something else.

    I was entertained for about 10 minutes with making an avatar even though it was a blatant ripoff of the wii and somehow cheesier.

    The running games on the hard drive on the other hand was a letdown, as Halo immediately told me I should not be running the game off the HDD. For offline games it still sounds like a good thing, as the disc drive on those things crap out frequently.

    The new menu is really a tossup and not that important either way.

    • by fahrvergnugen (228539) <fahrv@hotmail . c om> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:59AM (#25830225) Homepage

      Pros:
      +Netflix streaming video works like a charm.
      +Avatars have potential and are reasonably customizable, very similar to the Mii.
      +It's great to see the party system extended beyond COD4 / Halo 3.
      +Playing from HDD instead of from CD will certainly cut down on wear & tear.
      +In-game dashboard is much nicer.

      Cons:
      -We've gone from 5 tabs to 50+ screens. It's crap.
      -The menu defaults to the "showcase" channel, which advertises Microsoft's newest games. This means that Microsoft, not content with getting us to pay $300+ for a console and $50 / year for Live, feels the need to advertise to us every time we go to the dashboard.
      -Old themes port very poorly, stretched across the background in awkward ways.
      -Many links to premium content have been pushed to the front page.
      -"Autodownload" feature for the Arcade releases is gone.
      -Haven't fixed the glaring file management bugs - it's not possible to do something like, say, delete 150 old Oblivion saves to reclaim disk space while keeping 5 of them without pressing 4 buttons for each individual savegame. Not a problem until you realize they're over a megabyte apiece, and on a 20gb hard disk this adds up fast.

      On the whole I hate it. The ui is completely cluttered now, but the defaulting to advertisements behavior and the up-front sells for premium content are a dealbreaker. I'm changing my 360's default behavior to "boot what's in the drive" from "default to dashboard" and I'm never looking back.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:31AM (#25830339)

        Cons:
        -The menu defaults to the "showcase" channel, which advertises Microsoft's newest games. This means that Microsoft, not content with getting us to pay $300+ for a console and $50 / year for Live, feels the need to advertise to us every time we go to the dashboard.

        Exactly what I thought, until I realised that to start a game, the button presses have gone from something like "down-down-down-down-down A" to "up A". Ok, not a huge difference, but it all feels so much smoother - *and* it either logs you into Live earlier, or it doesn't reset the menus when it logs you in, which changes it from "down-down-down-down dammit down-down-down-down-down A" to "up A".

        Or have I lost you all? ;-)

      • by cra (172225)

        Cons:
        -Haven't fixed the glaring file management bugs - it's not possible to do something like, say, delete 150 old Oblivion saves to reclaim disk space while keeping 5 of them without pressing 4 buttons for each individual savegame. Not a problem until you realize they're over a megabyte apiece, and on a 20gb hard disk this adds up fast.

        I agree on this one. A posibility to tag files for deleteion and *then* remove them would be nice. Or at least make use of the red and green buttons for No/Yes instead of having to mothe the damn stick up to yes and then press A.

      • by dhavleak (912889) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:14AM (#25831121)

        +It's great to see the party system extended beyond COD4 / Halo 3.

        The party system always did extend beyond these games (to most games in fact). The party system in NXE is different. You can be in a party with some friends, but doing different things (playing a game, watching a movie, etc). You can switch to the party channel if you wish to only communicate with people in your party, or the game channel if you want to chat with the people you're playing with. So if you want to play COD4 but you're tired of dealing with obnoxious gamers, you can first start a party with your friends, and then play COD4, and stay on the party channel -- no need to deal with obnoxious ppl. Same for any game, in NXE now.

        -We've gone from 5 tabs to 50+ screens. It's crap.

        Why compare tabs to screens? We've gone from 5 tabs to 6 channels. Panning left/right in a channel is like scrolling up/down in a tab.

        -The menu defaults to the "showcase" channel, which advertises Microsoft's newest games. This means that Microsoft, not content with getting us to pay $300+ for a console and $50 / year for Live, feels the need to advertise to us every time we go to the dashboard.

        Turn off the Showcase channel :). It's in the settings somewhere.

        -Old themes port very poorly, stretched across the background in awkward ways.

        Hrm.. I didn't have that experience. I did see the wallpapers being obscured below the horizon (no idea what the correct term is) though. Considering the magnitude of the upgrade, I'm hardly concerned about this though. I do agree it's irritating if you've actually purchased a theme, for it to not be as pervasive as it was earlier.

        -Haven't fixed the glaring file management bugs - it's not possible to do something like, say, delete 150 old Oblivion saves to reclaim disk space while keeping 5 of them without pressing 4 buttons for each individual savegame. Not a problem until you realize they're over a megabyte apiece, and on a 20gb hard disk this adds up fast.

        Sounds like an issue with Oblivion rather than NXE. If Oblivion allows you to create so many game saves, Oblivion should offer a good UI for cleaning up it's junk.

        On the whole I hate it.

        I'm so surprised that anyone can actually hate it! The old blades are just one button away at all times, and they've not lost any functionality, and they've only gotten zippier. And it doesn't have ads. So you have everything you want, a single button away, and wonderful eye candy on the other hand (you gotta admit it -- NXE is gorgeous). Best of both worlds! Not to mention, the sight of a bunch of avatars standing in a group (because they're in a party) is pretty cool. Very cool that you can just click on that group to see party options. And that for people who you game with regularly online you'll actually be able to recognize the avatars at a glance and get an idea of who's in the party -- rather than having to read a dry spreadsheet-looking list of friends. And from the cover-art, you know what the party is doing too. Super-cool.

        • by nschubach (922175) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @11:16AM (#25832315) Journal

          Sounds like an issue with Oblivion rather than NXE. If Oblivion allows you to create so many game saves, Oblivion should offer a good UI for cleaning up it's junk.

          That's like saying it's the responsibility of any application on your PC to do file management. You'd have to learn Adobe's menus for cleaning up Adobe files, Microsoft Office's methods for managing your word docs and Visual Studio's methods for managing project files...

          It's up to the OS to allow you to clean up files if you need to, not each individual application.

      • by Have Blue (616) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:28AM (#25831231) Homepage
        The auto-download feature is going to be replaced with "remote download"- you will be able to go onto Xbox.com and select things for download later, and they will automatically start the next time you turn the console on.
      • by ProppaT (557551)

        We've gone from 5 tabs to 50+ screens. It's crap.

        Not true. There still are 5 (maybe 6, I'm at work) tabs. They're what you get when you go up and down. Each tab presents you with screens which make it simple to get where you want to go. In UI design theory, we have the rule of 3's (or 5's depending on who you prescribe to). You should never have to go through more than 3 menus to get to something and, with the old dash, I found myself having to go over 5 layers deep at times and, even then, I wasn't sure I was doing it the right way. There were mult

      • by AlexMax2742 (602517) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @10:24AM (#25831737)

        -We've gone from 5 tabs to 50+ screens. It's crap.

        No, you've gone from 5 tabs to 5 main menu items, it's only that instead of going left to right it goes up and down.

        -The menu defaults to the "showcase" channel, which advertises Microsoft's newest games. This means that Microsoft, not content with getting us to pay $300+ for a console and $50 / year for Live, feels the need to advertise to us every time we go to the dashboard.

        Are you new to 360's in general? The OXE was cluttered with advertisements in more traditional form, banner ads. And I'm pretty sure the default menu item was the game I had in my DVD drive when I turned it on from a fresh start last night.

        -Old themes port very poorly, stretched across the background in awkward ways.

        Paid themes were for suckers anyway, they usually looked awful even in the old system. Is the NXE not a new enough theme for you?

        -Haven't fixed the glaring file management bugs - it's not possible to do something like, say, delete 150 old Oblivion saves to reclaim disk space while keeping 5 of them without pressing 4 buttons for each individual savegame. Not a problem until you realize they're over a megabyte apiece, and on a 20gb hard disk this adds up fast.

        I might be mad except for the fact that one of my biggest issues with the old system, the way it loaded the list of arcade games you had installed, has in fact been 100% fixed. Personally, I play my games far more often than I delete saves, so I can understand if their engineers put priority on different things (and avoid playing awful games like Oblivion period).

        Overall, I'm a huge fan of the NXE because it makes the interface a good deal more responsive. The old blade system seemed to always be one or two steps behind you and I was never a big fan of its stylings, and now it feels quite polished and slick.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ergo98 (9391)

      The running games on the hard drive on the other hand was a letdown, as Halo immediately told me I should not be running the game off the HDD.

      Halo was self-aware that it was running from the HDD? I had thought they'd sandboxed these things sufficiently to block that sort of storage awareness.

      Though Microsoft has been very forthright with statements about the limited benefits of installing to the hard drive, honestly stating that load times will see little or no change (whether because the hard drive and it'

      • by dhavleak (912889)

        Possible way to "save" broken discs?

        Not likely -- you still need to put the disk in the drive to play the game. My guess is that performance and noise are only "fringe benefits" of this feature. The big deal (for microsoft) is probably that this will allow them to make multi-disk games.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by ergo98 (9391)

          My guess is that performance and noise are only "fringe benefits" of this feature. The big deal (for microsoft) is probably that this will allow them to make multi-disk games.

          Meant to comment on this.

          Discs are going out very, very quickly. Microsoft and gamemakers have no interest in sharing profits with distributors and warehouses and fork lift drivers and then retailers, which is why there has been a massive (and logical) push for downloaded games. The fringe benefit in this case is enough for many to thi

      • looking forward to your report - I have a defective fable disc (surface *perfect*, still random disc read error).
        • by HAKdragon (193605)

          I have a similar issue. I'll be playing the game fine and all of a sudden *bam!* I get the usual "unable to read disc, clean it and restart" message. I used to get that playing GTA4 as well. I'm half tempted to call up MS and get it serviced, but that will cost me nearly $100 since the unit is out of warranty.
           
          As an aside, this the second 360 I've had. My first one RRoD'd, and I got this unit as a replacement, with a noticably louder DVD drive.

    • I love the Netflix feature. The only problem I had with it was that only 7 of my 11 playable videos in my queue actually showed up on my 360. The rest must have been owned by Sony, who in typically Sony douchebag fashion, refused to allow [cnet.com] Sony videos to be streamed to 360's. Other than that, it worked flawlessly for me. I loved that the setup was so simple (just enter a simple one-time code when you're logged into your Netflix account and whalla, you're all set!)
    • "I love the streaming videos more than I probably should. In fact, I'm going to say I love it for the exact reasons I play games on the console rather than the PC in the first place: I don't like messing around with the PC settings at all when I'm trying to entertain myself. The netflix streaming videos didn't work instantly on my PC and I never bothered with it again, on the console it worked immediately. Call that laziness if you want, I'll just turn around and call you something else."

      The word you're loo

  • by Hasney (980180) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:56AM (#25829965) Journal
    My god, someone at MS found the wonder of the alphabet!!!

    Honestly, browsing to find DLC is now easy as you don't have to scroll through every game to find the game that you want, you just click on the letter then find the game. That, to me, is by far the NXE's best feature.
  • I hated it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xest (935314) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:17AM (#25830063)

    But I have to admit after 30mins or so of playing around, getting used to where everything had moved to and customising it it's growing on me.

    The party system is a nice touch, being able to join a group voice chat with a bunch of friends then taking that group into whatever game you all decide to play is pretty cool. You can make parties private or public with the latter allowing you to jump into an existing party on your friends list, see what they're doing and join a game they may be playing.

    Community games wasn't working right for me last night, but what I saw looked decent.

    There's a few minor changes people have wanted for a while such as being able to remove zero achievement games such as trials you never went on to buy or games that turned out to be crap that would previously just clutter your achievements/played games list.

    The avatar thing isn't bad, although it doesn't really seem to be overly useful yet, apparently the true extent of it's usefulness is still to come. Unfortunately my first attempt at creating an avatar ended up looking like Stalin, and the second like Hitler so I think we need more customization of them, I think this came down to there being a severe lack of shorter hairstyles, apparently Microsoft think 99% of the population have pony tails or just generally long hair whether male or female. Still I did come out with an avatar that looked fairly normal at the end of it but unfortunately as my friend pointed out you can't in fact have green skin.

    It's certainly more responsive, some people complaining that now only one of the theme pics you bought gets used rather than one per blade and you can't choose which. I can see why this would be annoying for anyone that paid for a theme but also I can't help but snigger to myself that they were foolish enough to spend money on a theme in the first place.

    Old gamerpics can still be used contrary to popular belief, you just have to change back to them after creating your avatar.

    So right now to sum up, it's certainly not groundbreaking and it definitely doesn't do anything to make the experience worse. All the useful new features are nice, but nothing that couldn't have come in with the old dashboard whilst all the not-so useful new features such as avatar makes interesting fluff at least if nothing else. Effectively I think it's an attempt to reach out to female and casual gamers with this sort of stuff and the games that will use avatars which is fair enough and it doesn't really infringe on their hardcore gamer userbase either- they will at least appreciate the party system and just jump into game without ever really using the dashboard much. So yeah, good but not in any way groundbreaking, at least yet anyhow, maybe some of the up and coming avatar related stuff will be as cool as Microsoft are telling us or maybe it simply wont. As long as they don't try and make me run round with my avatar in Gears of War 2 or whatever I'll be happy!

    • by cra (172225)

      As long as they don't try and make me run round with my avatar in Gears of War 2 or whatever I'll be happy!

      I agree; that would be "The Big Suck", to quote Dizzy. It might be a good laugh for the first few seconds, though. I don't see how my avatar would fit in any of the games I've bought the last year, as they are all rated 18+. I can imagine that my kids would love to have "themselves" running around in *their* games, though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by endemoniada (744727)

      Are you kidding? I would LOVE running around as bad-ass Marcus Fenix and blasting the crap out of all the whimpy new avatar-people. I would laugh all the way to hell :)

      I've only played with the dashboard for half an hour, but I like it overall. It's fast, responsive and looks so much better than bland, 2D cardboard slides being pushed around on my screen.
      The first thing I did was use the new "install game to harddrive" feature. Since I only have the 20GB harddrive, installing Gears of War 2 pretty much took

    • by naoursla (99850)

      > As long as they don't try and make me run round with my avatar in Gears of War 2 or whatever I'll be happy!

      er... feature cancellation request filed...

    • by sqlrob (173498)

      It's certainly more responsive, some people complaining that now only one of the theme pics you bought gets used rather than one per blade and you can't choose which.

      More than one do get used, I'm just trying to figure out the rhyme and reason of it. If you go deeper, it does change pictures. By and large, only one does get used in the bulk of the interface.

      At least the themes are usable now. I never used any because the text always became unreadable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Unfortunately my first attempt at creating an avatar ended up looking like Stalin, and the second like Hitler so I think we need more customization of them

      I think that says more about you than Xbox Live. :)

  • Great Update (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lucas teh geek (714343) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:28AM (#25830077)
    I'd be really curious to know how they are able to release an update that adds some quite significant features without having to charge for the update. Every time Apple brings out new features on the iPhone, they charge iPod Touch owners for that same update claiming that the Sarbanes-Oxley act means they cant add the features for free (with some sort of contract loophole for the iphone ).

    Perhaps Microsoft could let Apple know what their accountants are doing that Apple's cant figure out.
    • by neokushan (932374)

      It's simple - the cost of making the update is significantly lower than the estimated revenue gained from all the "casuals" who want an Avatar.

    • Perhaps Microsoft could let Apple know what their accountants are doing that Apple's cant figure out.

      Yeah, because Microsoft are well known for giving away stuff for free, rather than charging full price for what should basically be a patch (cough, Windows 7).

      Point taken, however, that Apple are even worse for doing this, and kudos to Microsoft in this particular case for giving us something for free.

      • Re:Great Update (Score:5, Informative)

        by bigman2003 (671309) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:02AM (#25831025) Homepage

        Microsoft does give a lot more away.

        A more direct comparison would be Zune updates.

        Someone who bought the first Zune has all of the functionality of the current Zunes...because the updates are free.

        How much does each OS X update cost - vs. a Windows update/service pack?

  • Can't get it (Score:3, Informative)

    by Peregr1n (904456) <ian.a.ferguson@gmail.com> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:34AM (#25830111) Homepage
    Unfortunately I bought the Arcade version of the xbox a few weeks ago, so have a pitiful 256mb of memory to play with. With all my saved games and a bare minimum of downloaded content, I have nowhere near 128mb free to get the new front end.

    I know, I know, I can just buy a bigger card or HDD... but it just bugs me that a) the update doesn't write over the existing front end, and b) Microsoft has known the release date for this for a long time, but still sold the Arcade with inadequate storage.
    • I think they had a promotion going with cheap hard drives for Arcade and Core system owners, though I may be wrong. If I had any choice at the time, I probably would have bought an Arcade or Core system, since a memory card would have been more than enough for my saved games; but I've since fallen victim to the marketing machine, and I regularly download demos and sometimes buy stuff with MS points.

      On a side note, is it any coincidence that Microsoft share an acronym with a degenerative, terminal illness o

    • ...yes you can (Score:5, Informative)

      by muel (132794) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:04AM (#25830249)

      Dude, Microsoft has been offering free memory cards and cheap hard drives to folks just like you: http://www.xboxstorageupgrade.com/ [xboxstorageupgrade.com] ... If your system's serial #/console id check out as "arcade," then MS will offer you a 20GB hard drive and 3 months of XBL Gold for $30. Not free, but not shabby, either.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by EnglishTim (9662)

      You can get a very low cost reconditioned hard drive from Microsoft:

      http://www.xboxstorageupgrade.com/ [xboxstorageupgrade.com]

      I can't remember the details, but I seem to remember you can basically get a 20GB hard drive for £12.99 or something like that.

      But yeah - it is weird that they're still selling the Arcade pack. My guess is that it's useful for them to have that £130 pricepoint. Also I guess there will be people who don't even have their Xbox networked and the Arcade version would suit them.

    • Re:Can't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by neokushan (932374) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:47AM (#25830611)

      the update doesn't write over the existing front end

      As a matter of fact, it does. The update comes in two parts - an 8Mb dash update and a 128Mb "content" update. The "content" update contains little more than the Avatars as far as I can tell, the dash update (which requires no extra space) contains everything else, including the interface. You can get by just fine with just this, but you wont be able to connect to live. Considering you only had 256Mb of storage, live was clearly never a priority to you, anyway.

      • by powerlord (28156)

        Considering you only had 256Mb of storage, live was clearly never a priority to you, anyway.

        Yeah ... its not like XBox360 Arcade users might want to communicate with friends, or play games on-line or something.

  • by NoobixCube (1133473) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:39AM (#25830141) Journal

    Everyone says they "stole" the whole Mii concept from Nintendo, but Nintendo hardly invented the idea of a customizable avatar for interacting with the world. I was disappointed at the absence of a Vault-tec jumpsuit (or any set of overalls I could pretend was a Vault-tec jumpsuit) in the outfit section. I guess I'll have to buy one if I want it that badly. Also, clothes lack customizable colour as far as I can see. If you choose a shirt, and it happens to be red, you can't just change it to blue, you have to choose a blue shirt.

    • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:07AM (#25830719)
      Everyone says they "stole" the whole Mii concept from Nintendo, but Nintendo hardly invented the idea of a customizable avatar for interacting with the world.

      No, Nintendo wasn't the first to use avatars. However, the ones they did make were fairly unique looking. Now Microsoft's look almost identical to them. If that's not ripping off the Mii, then I don't know what is.
  • by masterQba (699425) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:11AM (#25830263)
    There have been some reports of people having issues with missing sound when using HDMI. [google.com] I have the same problem and would like to give a heads up to anyone who is going to upgrade or had the same bug appear. To my knowledge there's no sure fire way of solving the issue. A workaround is possible by using a different sound output.
  • If Sony movies are not being streamed to the 360, it's probably because there was a clause in the original contract agreed to and signed by both parties that prohibits it. I can't blame Sony if they added a clause saying forbidding streaming content to a competing device covered by some kind of exclusivity deal. If true, it's smart and prescient of Sony to have done it considering Netflix then went and signed such a deal with Microsoft.
  • I hate it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spacelord (27899) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:15AM (#25830271)

    I applied the update yesterday, even though I wasn't wild about the screenshots I had seen so far. The announcements by Microsoft did however promise I could still use the old blade interface if I wanted, so I thought: why not give it a try?

    The install went fairly smoothly, taking only a few minutes. Then I had to create an avatar *ugh*, this was my first turn-off. I've never been a fan of avatar systems, but if they're going to make it mandatory they could at least have thrown in some models that don't look childish and cartoonish. So I just selected some random character, hoping I could switch it off later.

    Then I played around with the interface. It is fairly easy to figure out, and I could quickly find most functions I was looking for, however I couldn't help but think that the blade interface felt simpler, more intuitive and more mature. In the blade system, if you were looking for something, you just had to select the right tab and everything was available from there. In the new system, you have to navigate in 2 "dimensions", first select the right channel, then look for the right tab, then go into the tab. The blade system also made better use of screen real estate. A lot of screen space is wasted now because they chose to work with some kind of 3D representation.

    After using it for a while other things started to annoy me. I find the color scheme rather ugly for instance. It's all dull grey or migraine inducing green and selecting a different theme doesn't seem to change it. The sound effects got on my nerves too, instead of the cool muted *swish* sounds of the old blade system, the new sounds are much more *bling bling* and in your face (I don't know how else to describe it). Then, there's no way to get rid of your avatar. It's not like it does anything useful, it just stands there looking silly and generally being an eyesore.

    Then I started looking for new features. Netflix doesn't work outside of the US, so I couldn't use that. The install to HDD option could be handy, but I don't find it essential. The loading times never really bothered me that much anyway, it's having to switch discs when you want to play a different game that bothers me. To my disappointment no new video or audio codecs have been added, so some divx and mp4 files still don't play, there's still no support for 5.1 surround sound in divx files and still no support for subtitles. As a media player, it has not become more useful to me.

    So after a few hours of playing around with it, I decided that I didn't like it, and I started looking for the option to revert to the old style interface. Only, there wasn't one! Sure, when you push the big X button a menu pops up that looks remotely like the old blades, but it's not fullscreen and in no way a replacement interface. Now I feel cheated.

    My conclusion is that Microsoft spent way too much time and effort trying to invent a completely new interface, which in many ways is worse than the old system, when they could have just offered an upgraded blade system and spent all the time and effort on real features that are actually useful.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tcolberg (998885)

      You weren't forced to make an Avatar. When I did my update, I wanted to get to test Netflix as quickly as possible, so I just pulled up the guide and exited out of the Avatar builder to the dashboard. Just like before with any other application.

      You're complaining about having to do too many clicks around the interface? With the old blades, you had to cycle to the blade you wanted, say Marketplace, and then scroll down to the category you wanted. Same with the new system, but instead of moving through t

      • Re:I hate it (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Spacelord (27899) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @10:51AM (#25832035)

        You weren't forced to make an Avatar. When I did my update, I wanted to get to test Netflix as quickly as possible, so I just pulled up the guide and exited out of the Avatar builder to the dashboard. Just like before with any other application.

        That's not really very obvious is it? I didn't even know you could do that. There was just no obvious way to say "skip avatar creation".

        The Avatars may be useless and silly, but really, an "eyesore"? Maybe you should make a better looking one?

        You don't get it. I dislike the whole idea of having an avatar (why do I need one?), *and* I don't like the cartoonish cutesy style in which they are implemented, "fisher price" style as someone called it here. There is no way to change that, no matter which hairstyle or sunglasses you put on it. And even if I could make a better looking one it would be like having a better looking Clippy in Office, still pointless ;)

        MSFT didn't promise that they were keeping the blades. They specifically said that the NXE was to replace the blade system and that the blades would only be preserved in the Guide system.

        Well that's not how I interpreted it. I remember reading an interview by one of the MS guys who said that they were keeping the old interface around because there would always be people who would not dig the new interace.

        I'm happy to finally have an OS that's responsive and allows me to scroll through and read descriptions for items quickly. I think you're a bit worked up over the idea of "change" so much that you can't see the improvements.

        It's not that I'm worked up about the idea of "change", I just don't like this particular change. I do see the improvements, but they are minor things compared to the things that bug me about the new interface.

    • by EvilIdler (21087)

      When the avatar creation pops up, press the guide button, then Y. No avatard!

    • Re:I hate it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MMMDI (815272) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:09AM (#25830727) Homepage
      Here's some food for thought. I've had my Xbox for a couple of years now, and in that time, both the woman of the house and my daughter have had no interest in it. Sure, they watch me play every now and then, but that was really the extent of it.

      Yesterday, they saw me playing around with the avatar. My wife then wanted to make her own avatar, which led to her getting her own account on my box, which further led to her checking out the arcade and buying a couple of games ("I didn't know they had Pac-Man! Frogger! Whoa!"). My kid, not content with her own account on my box, now wants one for herself for Christmas.

      Funny how that silly little system brings in the casual crowd, eh?
      • Microsoft have been very, very clever with this update. Whereas previously, they were touting a high-def console as a loss-leader, they've now turned everything on its head and made the Live Experience itself the 'killer app'. As you point out, the avatars will pull in the casual crowd and the slickness of accessing the important parts of multi-player online games will make other systems appear very clunky by comparison.

        If you want a great upscaling DVD player / BD player, go for the PS3. If you want a g
      • by svendsen (1029716)
        Question for you. When you created an account for your wife does that account need to pay for gold membership? Or xbox live arcade games?

        For example my Account A I bought Worms (hmmm violent worm goodness) but when I set up another account it could only play the trial version of it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MMMDI (815272)
          You do need to pay for the gold membership for that account if you want that extra set of features (can't speak for your household, but my ol' lady doesn't need it). You do get a free month when you make the account, though.

          For arcade games, I didn't notice a problem... I just tested again with Doom (which I bought on my account), and I could play the full version from her account with no problems. I've heard of that getting screwy if you buy the game on one hard drive, replace said drive, and redownlo
    • Re:I hate it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheBracket (307388) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @11:10AM (#25832243) Homepage

      I've been in contact with MS support this morning over the dull greens. I'm partially red/green color blind, and it is IMPOSSIBLE to read some of the text on the green squares. Changing theme makes the background work, but I can't seem to figure out how to not have green boxes with white/yellow text. Since that's basically invisible to me (I had my wife read the text for me last night!), the update has rendered the interface unusable for me. :-(

      (Thus far, MS support has been apologetic and promised to get back to me -we'll see how it turns out!)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)

        Accessibility is FAR too neglected in the gaming field. I'm not color-blind myself, but I've sometimes felt like a heel playing against a couple of my best friends who are. In Starcraft, for example, the dots on the mini-map are virtually useless for color-blind gamers. And virtually every game uses Red/Green on the HUD to indicate friend or foe.

        The really sad thing is that other groups at Microsoft have excellent accessibility features. Xbox 360 developers must not work very closely with them.

        I hope they g

    • by Sporkinum (655143)

      I pretty much agree with most everything you said. Our 360 is pretty much only used as a media center extender. The new interface has made it difficult to get to the area you want. The menus for music and videos use larger fonts and graphics, so you see fewer items on the screen at once. The highlighted text bar is bright green with light grey text. Makes it difficult to read. There is no option to sort directories before filenames, so directories are mixed in with the file names now. Videos didn't work ini

  • So how *did* they manage to change the color of the "Ring Of Death" over the 'net?

    I keed, I keed! :P

    Strat

  • If this is the "NXE" system (the New XBox Experience) then what will it be when they re-engineer it again? The NNXE (the New NXE)? While NXE might look "cool" to some people, putting "New" in the branding of something isn't a great idea for the future!

  • by davidbrit2 (775091) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:13AM (#25830743) Homepage
    I was fully gung-ho as soon as I read I'd be able to run my 360 at my monitor's native resolution (1680x1050). Yes, it's letterboxed (very slightly), but I can finally play stuff at the proper aspect ratio, and without any excessive smoothing performed by the monitor itself.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:39AM (#25830893) Homepage

    It can't be right that Sony, a company that makes a competing game console, should also pull the entertainment content from one of the markets because that market allowed a competing game console in as well. This smacks of wrongness though I am sure sure it qualifies as anti-trust, they are certainly linking one completely different product/service offering to another as leverage against a competitor. There is something really broken about Sony's behavior.

    • Somehow I feel that buying exclusives and preventing competition is far worse than denying access to some of your movies.

      Hell, it probably would have been *easier* to make a PS3 interface, since it comes with a web browser and flash9 support.

      My annoyance aside, I have no doubt if/when Netflix creates a PS3 interface, MS will influence some content to not play there.

      On a side note, you noticed the "Order Dominioes from your TIVO" stuff? I am going to go ahead and predict a version of that for both
      • My annoyance aside, I have no doubt if/when Netflix creates a PS3 interface, MS will influence some content to not play there.

        I seriously doubt that will happen since the new Netflix interface uses Silverlight (and the old one used WMP/WMV).
  • And so does my fiance. She wanted to try Netflix. So after 10 sec. download netflix was running. Joined Netflix in under a minute. Clicked on the first move to stream now 1 second later it was in my queue on my 360 hit play and wow...

    Turned it off. Told my fiance what to do (turned off the 360 so she had to start from scratch). 1 min later we are watching Panâ(TM)s Labrynth in HD never missed a beat. bye bye cable!

    Fallout 3 is faster on the loading screens, and less popups Ive noticed. Th
  • Install to HDD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by baker_tony (621742) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @11:47AM (#25832767) Homepage

    That's the best feature in my book, only because it makes the XBox 360 a lot quieter!
    Might be a bit faster too, didn't really notice.

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