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  1. It's the end of an era for one Microsoft product this week; namely, the Kinect. This week officially marks the end of production for the motion-tracking device as confirmed by the Redmond tech giant. You might be surprised as I was to find out they were still producing Kinects given that no new major games have used it in the last several years. However, it did have a better run than most might realize. From its release until now, Kinect has sold more than 35 million units around the world. A good portion of that number includes bundles with the Xbox 360, and more notably with the Xbox One when it infamously launched only as a bundle at the console's launch. It was arguably the Kinect that could be blamed for Xbox One's lagging behind PlayStation 4 since the bundling in of the motion-tracking camera set Microsoft's console a cool $100 above its competition. Regardless, the Kinect has had a colorful life, if not an acclaimed one. While it's not known for any big game experiences in particular -- one of its most infamous uses was for a bizarrely off-tone dance minigame in Kinect Star Wars -- its best use for many gamers was its voice recognition, which could be used to open different games, apps, movies, and the like. Farewell Kinect. You may not be missed, but you'll certainly be remembered... in one way or another. Source: Polygon What are your thoughts on Microsoft ending production for the Kinect?
  2. Not surprised Xbone won this round considering how hard microsoft worked on it. What I am surprised is at just how accurate it is so soon. I expected a few updates and patches for the Kinect to get to the level it's already at. Good work microsoft... Sony on the other hand looks like they just added a camera as a last minute deal. Any thoughts?
  3. So Microsoft has had a pretty rocky start with their next generation console, the Xbox One. This isn't entirely the fault of the console though. While they're pushing away their core market by adding in all of these other features that nobody really wants, the main problem they're dealing with is customer trust. In the months leading up to this announcement they've had a tough time with DRM rumors. And now that the console is out in the open, these rumors have only gotten worse thanks to a series of he said she said articles being posted on the web. While we still don't have a clear and honest answer from Microsoft, I can safely say it is looking incredibly bad for the electronics giant. But it doesn't have to be that way. Here is how Microsoft can win this generation in three simple steps. Step One: Give The Xbox One A Voice The moment people could talk to their 360's is the same moment people's 360's should have been able to talk back to them. People want to experience (a word Microsoft loves) the future of technology, and a seemingly sentient console would have been the perfect way to pull this off last generation. Of course the problem here was that the Kinect appeared late in the console's life and developer's understanding of the peripheral was still just starting to flourish. But that shouldn't be a problem for a console that has made the newer and more powerful Kinect 2 mandatory for every single one of their consoles to function. Not only will everyone have to make use of the peripheral on day one, but they'll also have past experience from the last few years of tinkering with the original version of the device on the Xbox 360. Now, what do I mean by a console that can talk back to you? I nominate Ellen McLain for the female Xbox One voice. Well I'll get into that in a bit, but first let's talk about how it needs to be set up. Microsoft can't just throw Microsoft Sam onto every Xbox One and call it a day. They'll need to hire at least one actor and actress to fill the roles of your Xbox One guide. And then they need to lock those two people down into contracts forever, because their voices will be the Xbox One's Kevin Butler. Every advertisement and every big reveal would have to include those voices. If done right, potential buyers will become familiar with them before they ever even considered buying a console. Microsoft needs an advertising gimmick, and a talking Xbox would fill that role perfectly. But now we're going to get into the crazy stuff. Give The Voice Personality Now, just what do I mean by giving the Xbox One the ability to talk to you? A simple yes and no system wouldn't suffice at this point in history. That would just be embarrassing. If Microsoft wanted this to work, they would have to give the voices personality. The best example I can think of that would accurately show off what I mean would be the game Seaman for the Dreamcast. I hate how much this game title appears in my search history. In it you take care of little fish people who occasionally ask you questions about yourself while also appearing extremely lifeless and cold. It was clunky and slow going, but to be fair, this is from a game released over a decade ago. And it was also absolutely phenomenal stuff back then. What Microsoft needs to do is make that the Kinect 2's whole gimmick. Not only should they put in a voice that responds to your commands, they should put in a voice that asks you questions and remembers what you tell it. It would essentially be a disembodied Project Milo, a game I was so hyped up for that I ignored all of the Kinect's other flaws. Of course Project Milo never surfaced, but perhaps his tech demo could be used to make my dream come true with the Kinect 2. Make It Personal To The User So now the Xbox has a voice and an interesting personality. What else does it need? Well, we're going to go back to the game Seaman for a bit. In the game you usually had between three and five little fishmen. Instead of forcing you to grow a bond with each and every one individually, the game gave you the ability to name them. Of course they couldn't say their own name, but they reacted whenever you said it. And that was pretty impressive for decade old technology. While I'd still be just as impressed today if another company pulled it off successfully, there is actually another reason I'm bringing this up, and its griefing related. During the Xbox One reveal, people watching the show on their Xbox's were subject to frequent pauses and complete closure of their streams due to the commands being said to the new Kinect. This image will make sense in a minute. Just keep reading. Since everyone will have a Kinect 2 hooked up to their Xbox One, then it isn't too much of a stretch to imagine people being able to hijack their opponents Kinects simply by yelling commands into their own and having everyone else's Kinects pick up on it. While this would be hilarious, giving the Kinect a name would help cut down on issues like this. Instead of saying "Xbox, turn on." you could say "[iNSERT NAME HERE], turn on." But we're going to take it one step further. We're going to go the companion route. Look at games like Bioshock: Infinite. While the game has been out for about a month, people are still actively talking about it and posting things on the web. Why are they doing this? Its all because of the character Elizabeth, and people's tendency to grow attached to her. If Microsoft can give their Kinect's male and female voice a pleasant enough personality, then people will become attached to them the same exact way. No longer will you be reading about people calling Elizabeth their waifu, instead you'll be seeing people calling the Xbox One itself their waifu. Its a hilarious thought, but you all know it would work in Microsoft's favor. A never ending stream of constant discussion on the internet about each person's own console and how their personality has developed over this next generation paired up with the ravenous fanbase of people declaring their actual love to their consoles? Its a win win for Microsoft, and they know they can do it if they only tried. As always, thank you for reading.
  4. Microsoft has gone back to the starting point with Xbox One. No longer should we focus on the original Xbox or Xbox 360 but look toward a brand new era of digital entertainment. Do you watch TV shows or movies? Microsoft wants to own your living room and have you enjoy all that media through Xbox One. Oh, and the device will have something to do with games too. Although the Xbox One reveal had nothing to do with games, it has been proclaimed that Microsoft's E3 presence will be all about the games. What about these supposed fifteen exclusive games - will they all be shown? Will we get much-needed answers to our questions about used games and online connectivity? The staff of Game Podunk have put on their "game analyst" hats and are ready to share their best E3 predictions. A Rare Opportunity Jason Clement | Editor-in-Chief "Most of us have heard the news by now - Microsoft will be announcing a sequel to a 'historic' Rare franchise, but the question is which franchise are they referring to? Many people seem to think it will be none other than the long dormant Killer Instinct series, and for good reason - Microsoft recently renewed the trademark for the series last Fall. While Killer Instinct is clearly the frontrunner in all this speculation, what if the Rare sequel in question isn't from that series? The Banjo Kazooie series is probably Rare's hallmark franchise and what people love them most for, but somehow I don't think that will be it either. No, we're going to need to go back in time a bit more. There are two series that haven't been considered that would push fans' nostalgia buttons like crazy if Rare were developing a new game for them - Battletoads and R.C. Pro-Am. While neither series has been relevant for some time, they might provide the nostalgia bomb that Microsoft is looking for in getting some people to jump onboard with the Xbox One. The problem with R.C. Pro-Am is that Microsoft already has a popular racing game in Forza, so unless the former does something dramatically different, we can probably rule it out for now. Which leaves us with Battletoads. Crazy? Sure, but it might just be crazy enough to work and give Microsoft the big surprise they're looking to shock people with." Silence Is Golden (When It Comes To DRM) Marcus Estrada | Managing Editor "Microsoft has recently explained the problematic parts of the Xbox One and is unlikely to step away from them now. So what can they do to calm gamers down during their conference when all they're currently arguing about is a 24 hour internet check in and changing used game market? Simple, they won't talk about it at all! They're going to focus on their games and other properties but not say a single thing about the online pushback against their decisions. They already canceled their after-conference appointments with journalists so it's likely Microsoft will just clam up about any of this. They've given their answer via the official Xbox news website and are now done discussing it. Take the Xbox One or leave it because the console's controversial features are (probably) here to stay!" The Great Used Games Tax John Kidman | Contributing Writer "I suspect a speedy retreat from the poorly articulated 'fee' surrounding used and borrowed games. Microsoft hit everybody in the jaw when they initially announced the existence of this surcharge, so expect a few audible 'boos' from the audience when they first begin to address the issue that sent the twitter feeds and gaming websites into flame spirals. Microsoft will likely fully articulate a smaller-than-anticipated ($5 or $10) fee after a few pithy comments, perhaps about 'not believing everything you read on the internet.' I suspect this fee will similar in structure to online passes. The gaming industry is like any other industry, consumer driven, and imposing a large fee is truly a bad business model. A much better business model would be embracing the used game market on consoles by creating the ability to buy and sell ownership of digital titles, sending 10% of the proceeds of the transaction to the developer and paying the seller the balance in whatever monopoly money the console creator decides to implement." A Double Dose of Halo Gaiages | Community Manager "At the Xbox One reveal, it was stated that the Xbox One was going to get a bunch of exclusive, some of them even being new IPs, so they better flaunt their gaming power at the biggest gaming conference of the year! As to what they will show, that's anyone's guess... and my guess is that we'll be seeing a new Halo game. Yes, I know, there's the Halo TV series, but what better way to hype that than with a tie-in game? Also, Halo is pretty much one of Microsoft's system sellers, so what better way to hype their new system than with a new entry into the franchise?" 15 Exclusives, 8 New IPs, 1 to Rule Them All Jason Clement | Editor-in-Chief "One of the biggest things about Microsoft's conference is that they're set to announce 15 first-party games for release within the console's first year on shelves. That's a lot of games, especially for a launch console's initial year, which is typically rife with delays and periods of game droughts as gamers weather the wait for the true next-generation games to arrive in year two. While we don't know if MS can make good on that proposition for sure just yet, we can guess as to what they'll announce as part of the 15 exclusives. Let's start with a few that we actually know of already: Ryse and Ascend: Hand of Kul (formerly Ascend: New Gods). The former was announced in 2012 and is a new IP being developed by Crytek, and the latter is a free-to-play online role playing game being developed by Signal Studios, who created Toy Soldiers for XBLA, and though the game was originally announced for 360, I have a sneaking suspicion that it has moved to Xbox One. Both games would also fulfill the new IP condition as well. What else do we know is coming? LocoCycle from Twisted Pixel was recently announced. Not surprisingly, Forza 5 is also on the way. Alan Wake developer Remedy Entertainment's latest game Quantum Break was revealed as a new IP at the Xbox One reveal event. Is it likely we'll see Halo 5 release in the Xbox One's launch year? Likely not, though it's probable if 313 Industries simply continues using Halo 4's engine without any huge upgrades. You can also bet on seeing some type of new Gears of War title being announced; possibly Gears of War 4. Let's assume Lionhead isn't only working on Fable Anniversary as well and has been working on another next-gen Fable; that would round out the big 4 MS franchises. And last but not least, Black Tusk Studios is reportedly working on MS's next big game, and it's assumed to be a new IP as well. Breaking down what we know and what we're predicting- 1. Forza 5 2. LocoCycle 3. Quantum Break 4. Ryse 5. New Halo title 6. Gears of War title 7. New Fable title 8. Black Tusk Studios title 9. Ascend: Hand of Kul (?) Assuming Ascend: Hand of Kul does make the leap to Xbox One and that three of the 15 games are new entries in the Halo, Gears of War, and Fable series, then that accounts for 9 of the 15 exclusives that MS is referring to. As for the remaining 6 games? We'll have to wait and see. Expect them to be a mix of smaller XBLA-like titles and a perhaps a few AAA titles. One thing seems certain, though - MS is banking big on at least one big game to really get people talking, and it could very well be the Black Tusk Studios title. Stay tuned as we find out the answer in just a few short days." What do you think? Do you have any predictions for Microsoft's Pre-E3 Conference?
  5. Microsoft previously announced that a Kinect is a required component of the Xbox One. Although its functionality does not have to be used in all games, it does need to be connected in order for the system to function at all. This has led some to worry about possible video and audio data the Kinect could take while being connected. Although nothing Microsoft says will ever deter the most exciteable of privacy advocates, they have posted a FAQ by the title of "Privacy by Design: How Xbox One and the New Kinect Sensor Put You in Control." Upon setting up the system users can choose whether they want an automatic sign in via Kinect or to do so manually. When playing games, you can also pause Kinect. However, it doesn't seem there is an option to have it paused by default upon playing games or media. The standby mode of the system which waits for a user to say "Xbox On" can also be changed to have Kinect off when the system is off. Microsoft also assures users that none of the data the Kinect tracks will leave the console. If prospective Xbox One users still fear the Kinect then at least they have the option to unplug the system when not playing if they're still determined to buy one.
  6. Fantasia: Music Evolved is an upcoming music/rhythm game for Kinect. It doesn't really have anything to do with Disney's Fantasia, but that's beside the point. This Harmonix and Disney Interactive title encourages you to "become the new apprentice of legendary sorcerer Yen Sid, and explore and transform magical worlds by unleashing your musical creativity." Okay, so maybe it's a little like Fantasia with all the arm movement and pretty colors. You can see all of it in motion in the trailer below. Here are the tracks that are currently confirmed for Fantasia: Music Evolved: AVICII – "Levels" Bruno Mars – "Locked Out Of Heaven" Fun. – "Some Nights" Kimbra – "Settle Down" Queen – "Bohemian Rhapsody" Fantasia: Music Evolved will be available for both Xbox 360 and Xbox One sometime in 2014.
  7. Big Brother Microsoft is watching. At least they will be as soon as the Xbox One hits retailers. Microsoft is looking to improve upon the original design of the Kinect, and in some pretty big ways. While some of these design decisions are actually kind of cool, most of them are being put into the Orwellian box of wonders due to their incredible ability to watch your every move. But it doesn't just end there. That would be too simple! The Kinect 2 can do so much more than just watch you with it's unblinking terror eye. It can also listen in on you with an ear that never tires and it can even tell who it is listening to at any given moment. But we'll save that for later in the article. Let's start off with the Kinect 2's body tracking features. There Is No Tricking The Kinect It was very recently revealed that Microsoft had applied for a patent on their new Kinect. A patent that has more than a few people up in arms. The patent in question is for a technology used in the Kinect that lets it count how many people are in the room while watching a show or movie. If this count goes over a certain predetermined amount, the Xbox One would be able to stop the show and request that the extra people leave the room or you pay for a bigger license. While I highly doubt even Microsoft would go through with this technology simply because they're already hurting enough as it is with all of these other claims of DRM and always online restrictions, I have given it some thought, and I've found that I really can't think of any good way to get around this restriction if it were to ever pop up in the console's life span. I'll give you the rundown on what I considered. We're just a generation away from Our Friend, The Computer! First of all, why not just cover up the Kinect camera with a piece of paper? Well, the problem there is the fact that the Kinect knows when it is being obstructed by something. If you put a piece of paper in front of it then it'll continually readjust itself and give you error messages saying there is some sort of problem and needs to be re-calibrated. Next there's the idea of just taking a picture of yourself standing in your gaming room and just setting it in front of the Kinect. While that was my genius scheme at first, I realized there was a hole in my foolproof plan. A picture of a person has no heartbeat, and the Kinect 2 will know something is wrong when it doesn't detect one coming from the person it is viewing. Will it stop the video if this is the case? I don't know, but it could happen. Finally, why not just point the Kinect at the wall and just ignore it? This seems like the most obvious idea, but then there's the problem that the Kinect would be sensing that no one was in the room watching the movie. While it is still too early to determine, if Microsoft were to go through with this new technology, they would probably have blocks put in place to stop the movie from progressing if the Kinect determined no one was watching it. Wait, The Kinect Can Monitor Heartbeats? Of all the things Microsoft showed off at their big reveal of the Xbox One, this is the only thing that actually excited me the least. The Kinect 2 can supposedly monitor people's heartbeats well enough to tell when it has been raised by strenuous activity from a game like Kinect Sports. Ignore that bit about Kinect Sports though because it doesn't matter. Microsoft could actually be putting an affordable heart monitoring device in everyone's homes. Where is this thing, anyways? While I can't even begin to put into words what that could mean for a lot of people, I can at least put a gaming spin on it. Next gen horror games that react to how your heart is reacting while you play. We've been talking about it for the better part of a decade but nobody has actually gotten around to it. With a mandatory device that does it automatically without the need to hook you up to any machines? There is no excuse not to do it now. But a heart monitor is just the start of things. If this new Kinect is so advanced that it can monitor your heart from across the room, I have to wonder just what other amazing feats it can pull off. The modding community is going to be huge for this thing, and I just can't wait for that. Now that I've mentioned something cool about the new Kinect, let's get back to the tinfoil hat and paranoia side of things. The Xbox One Is Always Listening... ALWAYS This has to be the most serious thing the internet has been taking offense to when it comes to the Xbox One (not counting the possibility of always online and no used games) The Kinect 2 can hear you even when the console is powered down. This wasn't just claimed to be possible by the people on stage, but they actually showed it in action during the presentation itself by commanding the Xbox One to power on in front of the crowd. You didn't do your mandatory exercises today! An Xbox agent will be by to punish you! But it gets crazier than that. Not only did the Xbox One power on and load up the home screen, but it also logged onto the account of the person who gave the command. So not only is it listening for commands even while turned off, but it can tell the difference between you giving the command versus someone else in the room. It knows your voice, and it remembers you. Now, why might people have a problem with this? I've already heard the argument that if you have nothing to hide then you shouldn't have a problem with this feature. To the people saying this, I have one request. Let me put a webcam in your bedroom that has a direct link to my computer. I promise not to watch you. Maybe. While it is crazy to think Microsoft might use these new tools to spy on people, crazier things have happened. As always, thank you for reading.
  8. Microsoft just won't let the Kinect go. Although it did see some success thanks to the likes of Dance Central, it certainly did not end up being the "next Wii" as was probably intended. All the same, Microsoft has put serious money into the technology and maybe with the Xbox One it will finally fruition into something greater. All Xbox One systems will come with a Kinect, and that Kinect is required to be connected to the system at all times. While creepy, it isn't a big deal considering most people leave their random peripherals connected to consoles anyway. What was worrisome about this required connectivity was that it could have meant all games would have Kinect functions. When Phil Harrison was asked by Eurogamer if all developers would need Kinect functions in their game, he said the following: "No, but as I say we hope that they do, and whether it's something as simple as a voice command or whether it's a more sophisticated gesture, is up to the designers to how they want to unlock that." There is indeed a very strong push by Microsoft to make Kinect integral, but at least all developers don't have to squish it into their games if they don't want to. What are your favorite Kinect games? How could the Kinect be improved?
  9. After the big reveal of the new Xbox One, it was revealed that the console will have a much more extensive list of voice activated commands that the user could use. The very first one they showed off was "Xbox One, turn on." The Xbox sprang to life and immediately went to the presenter's account. But wait, there's more! Not only did they reveal that the console is listening to you while it is off, it is also listening for distinct voices. Without powering on it knows what you're saying and even who is saying what. This is pretty exciting technology in my eyes, but prepare for the tinfoil hats to come out any time now.
  10. If you believe Steven Spielberg then controllers are always getting in the way and Kinect is the only way to fully immerse yourself in a game. Now then, let's segue into reality for a moment and talk about when controls are too complex for their own good and ruin the enjoyment of games. To use a recent example of controls annoying me, I played Mass Effect 3 recently on the PC and it had multiple commands bound to the one button and gave me no way to change it. Look I understand there are only so much buttons on a controller, but the keyboard is covered in buttons, so you should be able to let me assign these commands as I please. Having sprint, take cover and roll all on the one button is just a pain in the ass. This has been a problem with PC games (mostly PC ports) for eons, just let me change these damn buttons so that when I want to take cover I don't end up rolling against a wall like a bloody idiot. All the buttons you could ever need, and then another 20 for good measure. Another problem I have ran into with a few games (again mostly on PC) is really poor control layouts. I want controlling a game to feel like second nature, to be able to focus on what's going on in the game and not have to keep looking at my controller/keyboard trying to figure out how to do something. A big offender of this was ARMA 2, as someone who has played his fair share of shooters; this game confused the hell out of me. I think I spent more time reformatting all the controls than actually playing the game, I swear it is like someone vomited out the control scheme and they just ran with it. If we wanted to boil this down to its most basic form then, controls get in the way when they aren't intuitive, it is pretty much that simple. When the controls don't make sense or they frustrate you then they are getting in the way and ruining your enjoyment of the game. So what about motion controls? Right, if we let all those moans die down so I can talk, then I will say that motion controls have a lot of problems with them, the main one being that they don't really work. Motion controls have failed to dominate this generation (apart from the Wii I guess) both the Move and Kinect have been left to die (but they might make a comeback next generation). So can motion controls become a better way to control a game? The main problem I see is in the whole motion part of motion controls, for starters gamers are really lazy and also moving around isn't easier than just pushing a button, so they would get in the way. I don't want to write motion controls off entirely, as they can work sometimes, but for the majority of gaming I feel that they would be less effective than a simple button based controller. Having to push 0 to aim? No wonder those ARMA devs were arrested So when do controllers get in the way? When you are really angry at a game and you want to throw something, then they end up lodged into a nearby wall. Seriously though, the majority of games have decent controls and I feel like for the most part it isn't an issue, but sometimes the control layout makes no sense or can't be changed to your preference (left-handed gamers for example) then it gets in the way and decreases your enjoyment of the game. That of course is the one thing a game should never do, because games are supposed to be all about enjoyment and when you get in the way of that, you have failed your job. Bloody game developers.
  11. Marcus Estrada

    Xbox 360 at E3 2012

    From the album: Marcus's Album

  12. Was last week's rumor about the upcoming Xbox ditching used game play not enough for you? If you're rumor hungry then you'll be pleased to know that Kotaku has published another large and informative post about what the system will supposedly be like. Of course, the information does not come from within their team but from a person who is known to have a development kit for the system. It could all be true or an elaborate ruse, considering the source superDaE and his, er, bombastic Twitter account. Regardless, here is the information specified. First off, the Kinect will be an integral part of the upcoming system. It did not become the must-have accessory for Xbox 360 users, but there is definitely some interesting technology behind it. Apparently, all new systems will come with a Kinect that is superior to the current 360 and PC version. Unlike its use on current systems however, they say that the accessory will have to be plugged in to even use the console. That doesn't mean you'll be forced to flail around to log in and start up a game, but that the device is standard to every SKU, which allows any developer to make use of it. Next there is the statement that all games for the upcoming system will have mandatory installations. It has already been possible to install games on 360, but so far has never been a requirement like it is for some PS3 games. Unlike a PS3 though, it's also said that games will be capable of installing in the background. That way, a game can be played right from the start without having to wait 10 minutes for the process to finish. Apparently the system will come with a 500GB drive standard which also alleviates the fear of immediately cluttering up the system. Less unexpected is the word that the system is able to run multiple applications at once. This is always an amusing feature considering PCs have been doing the same for many years. Of course, consoles and handhelds have only recently gotten on board. This even extends to games, where you may pause one and jump into another. Just don't go game pause crazy, as it is doubtful the system would support that much game swapping at once. Is all or any of this true? What do you think of these rumored changes to the next Xbox system?
  13. At CES this week, Microsoft showed off a new concept for an interesting little project they're working on. Well, actually, it's not very little at all, because this project involves taking your video game experiences and putting them outside of your normal TV screen by projecting them all over your entire room. Talk about immersion! This conceptual project, which Microsoft calls IllumiRoom, takes a Kinect for Windows and a projector and uses them to morph your room into the game itself, so to speak. Basically, IllumiRoom can change the appearance of your room, extend your field of view, induce an added feeling of motion, and pretty much give us gaming experiences we've never seen before. But how does this all work? Well, the Kinect scans and captures the appearance and geometry of your room and adapts new visuals into it via the projector, all in real-time without any need to process the graphics beforehand. Would you like to see it in action? Of course you would: Microsoft firmly believes that this kind of augmentation can truly enhance the type of video game experiences we're accustomed to. And from the looks of it, it actually might. But will it ever come to pass? Perhaps for the new Xbox? We'll have to wait until April to hear more about it when Microsoft reveals more info at the CHI Conference in Paris. What do you think about the IllumiRoom? Are you excited for it or do you think it would just be a big distraction?
  14. Okay, Kinect games may not be on the mind of most Xbox 360 owners, but they might want to listen in if they're interested in getting a free game. Via the official Double Fine blog it was announced today that their upcoming title will be available at the low cost of nothing. The title is Kinect Party and it is an XBLA exclusive focused on doing silly things in front of your TV with other people. It overlays effects on the screen such as fireworks or Minecraft-themed goodies. Why? Why not? It is meant to be a goofy diversion and that is one reason why Double Fine are going to be offering it for free. Kinect Party launches on December 18th and will be downloadable free of charge from then until the end of the year. If you're curious as to whether or not the game is worth the download, check out the trailer:
  15. Venture Beat broke the news earlier today of Red Bull's latest gaming endeavor, which is set to combine Red Bull's Crashed Ice series with the Microsoft Kinect and Xbox Live Arcade. Crashed Ice is an extreme winter sport first sponsored by Red Bull in 2001 and espouses the fundamentals of Ski Cross with the use of Ice Skates in Urban environments. This event requires participants to be prepared for high speeds, quick turns and large vertical drops. A true addrenaline-junkie's dream, assuming they are comfortable with the ice. Austrian developer Bongfish, the team behind the snowboarding Stoked in 2009, will be staying true to the sport as four players will battle their way downhill on five tracks which have been previously used for Crashed Ice championship events. The game is set to feature a split-screen multiplayer as well as the ability to race through Xbox Live online services. A demo for Red Bull's Crashed Ice Kinect title should be available this year at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle. Red Bull is no stranger to promoting their products through video game advertising. Red Bull BC One and the now defunct spaces for Flugtag, Air Race and Ilume in Playstation Home are some of the more notable attempts of creating buzz for their unique sporting events and energy drinks.
  16. Marcus Estrada

    Kinect Sees a Price Drop

    For many, a Kinect at $150 was too much to ask. Why get another "gimmicky" motion device? Sure, it doesn't utilize any controller at all but there's not the biggest library of games available for it either. Well, if it was purely the price that was bothering you then maybe now the unit is enticing. Today Major Nelson announced a price drop for the Kinect down to $110. This price is only for the U.S. Other regions like Latin America and Australia will also get their own price drops soon, although they weren't announced yet. Japan, on the other hand, isn't on the list for a price drop. This new price is simply for the Kinect unit itself and not any bundle. That's a shame considering there have been a few good Kinect bundles in the past, such as the device sold with its most popular game - Dance Central. Why get a Kinect? Well, if you're in the mood for dancing games there's a bunch of those available. Then there's one or two "hardcore" games such as Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor and some kid-centric titles. At the very least, it offers a mostly pleasant "hands free" experience but most gamers just want an actual controller. If you don't have a Kinect does this price drop interest you? Does the Kinect need more games to be worth a purchase?
  17. According to new job listings on Microsoft's official website, the company seems to be looking for a software development engineer. Apparently, “the team that shipped Kinect for Xbox 360†needs some new blood to help with the development of “the future of Natural User Input.†The listing also states that “The Xbox Platform Team is gearing up towards the next generation of Natural User Interface (NUI) technologies†and that a “successful candidate must be able to come up to speed with new technologies.†But that isn't the only listing that hints at a new version of Kinect. Another listing, this time for a senior electronic engineer, shows that Microsoft is looking for someone to help work on "designing, building and delivering the devices and the innovative solution for Xbox and various future NUI applications.†This listing also comes with a mission statement, which is to “re-invent entertainment, led from the living room, powered by the cloud, across multiple screens and best experienced on our devices.†We've heard rumors in the past about Microsoft working on a better Kinect for their next-gen console, and now it seems like these are more than just rumors, thanks to these job listings. Furthermore, there was also a recent patent by the company themselves for a device (the new Kinect) that could use infrared light to capture depth “to determine a physical distance from the capture device to a particular location on the targets or objects in the scene.†We already know for sure that Microsoft is thinking about the future of the Xbox, and with so much dedication put into Kinect, it's more than likely that they'll be making a new model for their next console. With so many signs pointing to both a new Xbox and a new Kinect, expect you next Xbox experience to be full of body-flingin' fun. Are you excited at all about the new Kinect? Did you like the original Kinect at all?
  18. Harmonix has done pretty well for itself over the years. From more humble beginnings with Frequency and Amplitude on PS2, they have since moved on to work on massive titles. Rock Band, and more recently, Dance Central, are their best known works these days. With Dance Central being their latest cash cow they are now bringing out a third game in the popular dance game series. Today Harmonix announced a handful of tracks which are: 2NE1 – "I Am The Best (Original Version)" Alice Deejay – "Better Off Alone" Backstreet Boys – "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" J.J. Fad – "Supersonic" Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz ft. Ying Yang Twins – "Get Low" LMFAO – "Sexy And I Know It" Los Del Rio – "Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)" Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera – "Moves Like Jagger" Vanilla Ice – "Ice Ice Baby" Vicki Sue Robinson – "Turn The Beat Around" Village People – "Y.M.C.A." Beyond that Harmonix stated that there will be "more than 40" tracks on disc, which is par with previous versions. For reference, Dance Central 2 had 44 tracks (with many more available as DLC). It's also expected that you'll be able to import your track lists from the previous games into this one by paying a small fee. Dance Cental 3 will be out on October 16th to delight the Kinect owners out there who still use the device.
  19. It“s officially summer, and that means it“s time go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. Or if you“re like me, then you know it“ll be here for a few more months anyways, so why not just stay home for the hundredth time and play some more video games? Better yet, bring some people over and have a party. Here are a few games that you might consider bringing at your next summer party. Dance Central (Kinect) If you've never seen the moves in Dance Central, you're going to have a fun time figuring them out for the first time... in front of your friends There are a few choices for dancing games. From Just Dance, to Everybody Dances, and even Dance Dance Revolution, you can definitely have a good time with the ones that I just listed. However, I“ve seen that Dance Central for the Kinect usually brings the best crowd and laughs. Thanks to its controller-less set-up, the only assembly required is pushing aside the coffee table and leaving some space for the next dancers. Dance Central also has a very accessible learning curve, so pretty much anyone can get up and do the easier moves, or step up to a harder difficulty as required. The soundtrack consists of popular hits from today and old school classics that even the youngest guests should recognize. And it“s also hilarious to watch your friends butcher “Baby Got Back.” Rock Band/Guitar Hero (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2) Rock Band allows you to change things around for casual gamers or those who are just picky This is always a given. Either title is a fine choice, but I“ll just use Rock Band as an example. You take four players and each one plays either drums, guitar, or vocals (Or the keyboard if you“re playing Rock Band) and you basically jam out to your favorite rock songs. Rock Band is definitely a great choice because anyone of any comfort level can jump in with an instrument, and you“re more outgoing guests can start wailing out Bon Jovi classics. The games also carry a fairly varied set list, so unless your guests are hardcore rap, classical, or country fans, there shouldn“t be a problem finding at least a handful of songs they like. Other features such as No-Fail mode and Band Battles offer more ways for your guests to have fun with it. And as far as which one is the better of the two, I prefer to stick with Rock Band because of the way the in-game interface is set up, it“s recognition among pop culture, and for its more casual play style. Of course, Guitar Hero should do the job just fine. Mario Kart/Modnation Racers (Wii/PS3) Mario Kart, where turtle shells are your worst enemy Mario Kart and Modnation Racers are part of the “kart racing” genre. While they“re not hardcore enough to be considered a racing title, they make it up with wacky visuals and wild weapons. There are some racing games that do feature four-player split-screen action, but they don“t seem as fun or as accessible as these two titles are. Mario Kart is a classic, with roots back during Nintendo“s early days. Players can jump in and have a short race, or try one of the other fun modes such as Balloon Battle or Coin Runners. If you“re itching for a more intense race, Modnation Racers is the way to go. Exclusive on the Playstation 3, Modnation boats an emphasis on creating your own tracks, characters, and karts. From a racing perspective, Modnation Racers doesn“t have any special modes, but it provides a more competitive racing experience with faster speeds and devastating weapons, all while keeping its all-ages theme. Both kart racers are fun and easy to learn. Super Smash Bros. (Wii, GCN, N64) Some newcomers may not like a Smash Ball once they see what it does... Take a few dozen iconic Nintendo figures (And maybe one from Sega or Konami) and toss them into a fight to the death. That“s the basic idea for Super Smash Bros. It“s a brawler at heart, and with up to four players on a single screen, you can see some very intense match-ups, some that I“ve seen go on for more than fifteen or even twenty minutes with sweat-inducing back-and-forth action. But new players shouldn“t feel hesitant to join in. Smash“s control scheme is fairly simple, with your basic attacks locked onto single buttons. So, anyone can jump in and start pulling off a few simple leaps and attacks and even hold their own against others. Just make sure the veterans don“t discourage the newbies. Halo/Call of Duty/Other Popular Games Remember kids, no screen cheating! Chances are not everyone at your party will be a gamer or barely know what a video game is. To be safe, it wouldn“t hurt to have some of the more popular titles on hand such as Call of Duty. You can assume that most people have at least tried or seen Call of Duty, and due to its popularity you can expect at least some people to play it. Halo and Gears of War also seem to be very recognizable so they should also do just fine. Make sure that whatever game you decide to use has the option to put multiple players in at once, four if you can. And also be sure to make certain that turns will be taken, and that those turns don“t last longer than 5 to 10 minutes so that way everyone gets a chance to play. Also be sure that the game is easy or easily accessible with a humble learning curve; you want to make sure your guests are having fun with the game and not spending the whole time flipping through a manual. Lastly, remember that video games should just be one of the few things to do at your party, and shouldn“t be used as a primary source of good times. Unless, of course, things just end up that way. I mean, it“s a party after all.
  20. Marcus Estrada

    Steel Battalion Heavy Armor pictures

    From the album: Marcus's Album