Thursday, March 30, 2006

Free Xbox Live weekend (this weekend)

  1. Free Xbox Live this weekend
  2. Games added to Xbox 360 backwards compatibility list
  3. GDC Rumors and Rumblings
  4. adds "friends management"
  5. I'm excited for/worried about the X-Men 3 game
  6. Beowulf Sleeper Hit?
  7. Battlefield 2, G.R.A.W. demos available on Xbox Live marketplace
  8. Austin's Wolfpack shut down

1. Free Xbox Live this weekend

Microsoft and Verizon are offering the first free Xbox Live Gold Weekend this weekend, March 31 through April 2.
You get 72 hours of multiplayer gaming bliss as we grant every U.S. Xbox 360 gamer Xbox Live Gold status for the entire weekend!... to give gamers tons of great programming, contests, and surprises.
The events kick off at midnight tonight (PST), and go through Midnight Sunday.

Check out the full schedule of events: 2. Games aded to Xbox 360 backwards compatibility list

Black, Star Wars Battlefront II, and World Soccer Winning Eleven 9 have been added to the list. Yes, Black -- now that I'm almost finished with it ...

The full list of supported games: 3. GDC Rumors and Rumblings

Lotta news, nuggets, and nuances from this year's Game Developers Conference (GDC)
  • Microsoft to buy Lionhead -- Peter Molyneux didn't show for his D.I.C.E. appearance, and last week he didn't show for his GDC "Inspirations for Next Generation Designs" session. "However, word on the GDC show floor was that Molyneux hadn't shown up because he had pressing matters back at Lionhead headquarters in the UK." says those "matters" are the "final stages of negotiation" between Microsoft and Lionhead.

    Molyneux is the guy behind Fable, Black and White, The Movies, Populous, Syndicate, and Dungeon Keeper.
  • Crysis steals the show -- Rumblings from last week's events say Crysis and the new CryEngine blew away attendees. Crysis is the next game from Crytek, the studio behind the successful Far Cry franchise. Crysis will be published by Electronic Arts.

    Check out for the trailer and assets.
  • Sony Online Entertainment losing Star Wars Galaxies? -- Not really new or limited to GDC, the rumors nevertheless seem to be picking up.

    Galaxies has had a rough time of it, LucasArts has shown it can manage its hosting (a al the Star Wars Battlefront franchise), and partnerships may be coming up for renewal.

    Add to that the recent formation of BioWare Austin (and BioWare's success with the Star Wars license), and things could be ripe for change.

    A lot of pieces though -- BioWare's success with KOTOR, the Austin studio staffed with ex-SOE big guns, a futuristic MMO, the unique opportunity for LucasArts to move the license, but move it to people experienced with the product and IP, etc.

    Or maybe the Austin studio could be working on another iteration of the license, and that's what there unannounced "futuristic next-gen MMO" is all about.

4. adds "friends management"

You can now use to send, receive, and decline a friend request or remove a friend from your Friends List, from a PC, rather than your Xbox.

On the one hand, it's a cool start. On the other, it's almost a concession to how hard it is to do the stuff I want to do with Friends manangement via the Xbox.

Plus, the functionality I want isn't there yet.

I should be able to send Friend requests to play a game, or respond to requests from the Website. I should be able to group friends the way I can in Messenger, so rather than doing an "Invite all" to my entire Friends list, I can "Invite co-workers", etc. I should be able to manage alerts so I get SMSes only for the people I want to know are online, versus everybody in my friends list (during spring break, people on my list jumped on-and-off titles and Xbox Live multiple times, every day for 10 days. In one week, I exceeded by SMS limit for the month. Thanks, kids.

And I want Microsoft to integrate this functionality into MSN (Windows Live) Messenger. And I want the Web version of Messenger to be as full featured as the client version.

Usage wise, I don't leave open (I rarely go there), but I do leave Messenger up, and I'm on the Xbox 360 dashboard way more often then on

"I want! I want! I need! I need!"

5. I'm excited for/worried about the X-Men 3 game

I'm excited about the X-Men 3 tie-in game from Activision. The game is looking to do a movie franchise tie-in right -- by being the transition vehicle between the 2nd and 3rd film, not regurgitating either, and letting players partially play as franchise favorite Nightcrawler (who won't be in the third film).

And, Activision brought on "the" X-Men writer Chris Claremont to cowrite the game with Zak Penn, who cowrote both X2 and this summer's X-Men: The Last Stand.

And Activision has done really well with the X-Men Legends franchise.

So, why am I worried?

The PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Xbox 360 versions of the game are being developed by Z-Axis (Hypnos Entertainment is doing the GameCube version, Amaze Entertainment is working on the DS game, WayForward Technologies is doing the Game Boy Advance, and Beenox Studios is developing the game on the PC).

Z-Axis was behind such "hits" as Aggressive Inline, BMX XXX, and Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2.

Maybe Activision will be managing them super tightly, so it will almost be like an internal development project. I'd feel better if I knew who the Activision producer for the tile is. Here's hoping ...

6. Beowulf Sleeper Hit?

The literary powerhouse Beowulf is coming to next-gen consoles, courtesy of developer 4HEAD Studios and art and animation studio 3D-IO.

Beowulf is a combat-driven action adventure game set in the realms of nordic mythology.

I'm a sucker for anything Norse, and Rune is a seriously under-rated game.

Plus, the Beowulf game's Website teases at some good stuff.

7. Battlefield 2, G.R.A.W. demos available on Xbox Live marketplace

Just in time for the free Xbox Live weekend, Electronic Arts has released the Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (BF2:MC) demo for free download from Xbox Live marketplace, and Ubisoft just posted the Ghost Recon Advance Warfighter (G.R.A.W.).

For BF2:MC, the demo will be multiplayer only and will allegedly support up to 24 gamers.

For G.R.A.W., there won't be any cooperative modes in the demo, but all multiplayer competitive modes will be available and up to 16 players can play at once.

Somebody over at those two publishers was thinking ahead.

8. Austin's Wolfpack shut down

"Yes, Ubisoft will be closing its Wolfpack studio on May 15, 2006," a representative of the company told GameSpot News. "The decision to close Wolfpack is part of an overall strategy to concentrate Ubisoft's development in its larger studios where more resources are available."

I'm thinking they mean China, where Shanghai did such a "stellar" job on the Xbox version of G.R.A.W.

I don't know how this'll hit Shadowbane, the Wolfpack-developed MMO. Earlier in March, Ubisoft made the game free to play.

Ubisoft did say they're "looking for relocation opportunities within Ubisoft for all Wolfpack employees."

Maybe they should check out BioWare Austin's job opportunities.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Gaming for the Nobel Peace Prize

At this year's Game Developer's Conference, the yearly "Game Design Challenge" competition was to create a game that could conceivably win the Nobel Peace Prize.

This year, gaming luminaries Cliff Bleszinksi (Unreal, Gears of War), Harvey Smith (Deus Ex, System Shock, and now over at Midway Austin), and Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy) gave presentations for the game they thought was worthy of the prize.

I was curious as to how this was going to shake out, and even more so after reading CliffyB's tidbit:
"My powerpoint slides are ready to go on my USB memory stick. I'm overwhelmingly nervous and excited and giddy and I think that what I've come up with might have a shot at doing well."
Then I ready Douglas Wilson's ( blog about the presentations.

You should read the full blog about all three presentations, but here's his short version of CliffyB's idea:
Bleszinski spoke next, presenting his idea for a first-person "empathy game" that places the player in the role of a father. The goal is to keep your family alive and intact, and to "stay physically and emotionally close to your family." Bleszinski claimed, "Our medium has the power to make people think twice about anything."

Bleszinski further proposed that the UN could require world leaders to spend time on the simulation, in order to prevent leaders from detaching themselves from the full implications of their decisions. He imagined that there could be different versions for specific regions and races, and even suggested that the leaders publish their "scores" for accountability.

Contrasting his design with existing police and army simulations, Bleszinski pointed out players of his game would be "meant to sympathize with the civilians" rather than the soldiers, and thereby "put a very human face on civilians caught in war."
Harvey Smith won, and props to him (I think the guy is seriously talented, and his public honesty about "what's important in life" motivated me to change the way I do things on that front).

But (admittedly not having been there) I can't help but feel CliffyB was robbed.

Smith's game sounded more fleshed out as a game concept, and it sounds like Takahashi-san had the most entertaining and euphoric idea.

But Bleszinksi's idea resonated with me, and seems important. Almost an extension of his design ideas in Gears of War, where he wants to put truly stunning architecture throughout the game, so players "feel sad that it's been destroyed". It sounds something like what Hideo Kojima plans to do in terms ogame playay and "heart" for Metal Gear Solid 4 (see this post for a little more).

I want games to resonate with me. Not all games (that's why I play Halo 2 Rocket Ball or "Bludgeon Ball" home-grown variants), but some games. That's why I'm looking forward to Gears of War, BioShock, Metal Gear Solid 4, Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, Lost Odyssey, and (maybe) Lost Planet.

Note: And, yes Folks, I know the Gears of War site has been down -- that's why I stopped linking to it. And thanks for letting me know, but you realize I don't have anything to do with that site, right?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

GDC: Nintendo Revolution to play Nintendo, Genesis, TurboGrafx games

Nintendo Revolution to play Nintendo, Genesis, TurboGrafx games

Last year at E3, Nintendo announced you'd be able to download old-era Nintendo games from all previous consoles (Nintendo 64, SNES, and NES) through their new Revolution console this fall. At the Game Developers Conference this week, Nintendo Prez Satoru Iwata said former hardware rivals -- Sega (Genesis) and Hudson (TurboGrafx) -- will make part of their back catalog available for download on the Revolution. Supposedly, more than 1,000 games from Sega, and an unknown number from Hudson.

Pretty cool, could be a console seller, and may impact Xbox Live Arcade in a big way ...

Commentary: Sony's PS3 launch will kick the 360's a$$

It's no secret Microsoft's launch titles -- though arguably more diverse than any other console launch -- was far from stellar.

Sony, on the other hand, besides having a history of stellar First Party titles, is taking specific steps to have a potentially huge launch roster, with details hopefully announced at E3 this May.

The stakes are higher for Sony, who needs exclusive games that will make gamers want to buy their console (Microsoft doesn't currently suffer the same problem, since their console is the only Next-Gen box to buy).

So what has Sony done?

They bought Zipper Interactive, the development studio behind the SOCOM franchise. At a time when Xbox was crowing about reaching 1.5 million total Xbox Live subscribers, SOCOM allegedly had 1 million players for a single title. By purchasing them, Sony potentially has an in-house, more controllable launch title with a solid franchise history. A quick spin through the Zipper job listings points to openings for "current and next generation platforms" and "multi-threaded systems". SOCOM for PS3 may not be a flagship title, but it would be a solid multiplayer addition and revenue generator (SKU and related sales).

Sony also bought Guerilla Games, who made the PS2 Killzone, and is "now recruiting for its flagship PS3 title" (Killzone 2). By purchasing Guerilla Games, Sony pulls a Microsoft-buying-Bungie (which made Halo an Xbox, console-selling exclusive), and potentially has an in-house, more controllable AAA launch title. While the first Killzone was supposed to be the "Halo-killer", it fell a bit short. If the next game matches the target visuals and gameplay in the pre-rendered CGIs from last year's E3, I'd buy a PS3 to play that game. But first Sony needs to undo the damage they did last year in claiming the pre-rendered stuff was in-game, and show some real in-game (or better, playable) assets at this year's E3.

Finally, Metal Gear Solid 4, the latest in the arguable strongest PlayStation franchise, from Kojima Productions, is to me the most intriguing of the pending PS3 playables. After reading the Game Informer Magazine interview and looking at the accompanying screenshots, I'm excited about what Hideo Kojima plans to do in terms of gameplay and "heart" for the game, and the promise of "a revolutionary change that will lead us away from the past concept based on 'reality' towards the 'natural.'" Sure, the visuals were admittedly target visuals, but Kojima-san is "confident" this is what the game will look like.

There are even more titles scheduled for at or just after launch, like the Sony/Incognito Studios' remake of Warhawk (which will allegedly be playable on the show floor at E3 this year), the slick and stylish Insomniac Games' Resistance: The Fall of Man (what was I-8) and the sometime release of the Next-Generation Ratchet & Clank.

If Sony could just add a solid launch platformer, they could diversify the appeal of the PS3, and fracture Nintendo's launch -- if Nintendo's launch doesn't fracture theirs.

Not that it will be easy. Sony's giving Microsoft a full year of game catalog development, with spring, summer, fall, and Holiday "buckets" of releases. And though I doubt Microsoft will counter the PS3 launch with "the mythical" Halo 3, they may counter with the Next Big Thing -- Gears of War (site's been down for a couple days; odd, that).

Of course, gamers win with all of this. Especially the lifetime gamers who grew up on Atari, Coleco, and Commodore (the real ones, not the current ones), and have income (if not the time) to buy multiple iPods, DVD players ... and Next-Gen gaming consoles ...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

PlayStation 3 to be Region free (for gaming)

SCE Prez Phil Harrison said in a Q&A session with IGN's PS3 channel that PlayStation 3 games will be region-free.

Restrictions from the AACS LA will keep movie playback region locked (a la current DVDs), but you'll be able to play any PS3 title -- no more waiting for imports, or special (illegal) mods to the console to play region-restricted games.

There are some minor restrictions (PAL-encoded discs playing on an NTSC set; you still won't be able to read Japanese; etc.), but a lot of the technical challenges go away in the new world (HDTV standards go a long way).

I find this "region-free gaming announcement amazing, in the face of Sony's recent DRM firestorm.

360 domination, Microsoft handheld, and other stuff ...

  1. More Xbox 360 consoles, games for sale
  2. Xbox 360 to dominate
  3. Microsoft's upcoming handheld
  4. Windows Vista delayed to 2007
  5. Oblivion: Fragmented Cache Data Fix


1. More Xbox 360 consoles, games for sale

Starting this week, Microsoft is increasing its production of Xbox 360s, and they'll be pouring into retail.

Full production of the console's components are underway at Celestica, Microsoft's third manufacturing outlet, which will mean a supply increase of "two to three times" (according to Microsoft).

Microsoft also announced that by June, there will be around 80 total titles available for the Xbox 360. Though they did qualify this would include Xbox Live Arcade titles.

Though only Dead or Alive 4 was released between the console launch and Feb. 14, starting this month, things really start to heat up on the game front (Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, Oblivion, and Blazing Angels: Heroes of WWII).

And with the recent confirmation of the PlayStation 3 delay until fall of 2006, Microsoft probably has at least 3 big "waves" of games before competing with the PS3.

Check out my semi-updated video game calendar:

2. Xbox 360 to dominate

Last year, industry analysts like Michael Pachter surprised folks with a prediction of the Xbox 360 leading the console wars through 2008.

With Sony's recent announcement of the PS3 delay and Microsoft's increase in supply production, some analysts have updated their projections, with folks like Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst Shawn Milne saying the Xbox 360 will outsell the PS3 through 2010.

3. Microsoft's upcoming handheld

Rumors are rampant about Microsoft's pending handheld - and it's not the "mini-tablet" exposed by the Origami Project.

Insiders say the engineers tied up on the Xbox 360 for the last 7-8 months are now focusing on the "PSP and iPod killer", and the release of a Microsoft handheld is a "when, not if".

This may seem like an unwise move for Microsoft, so close to launching the 360, but I'll comment on that in a separate post.

Also, see my older post on ideas for Microsoft's handheld:

4. Windows Vista delayed to 2007

Microsoft's announced a dely in Windows Vista -- the next iteration of their operating system -- to January of 2007, though some OEM versions my ship earlier.

This is going to be problemmatic for people buying or getting laptops or PCs over the holidays, because their PC will be obsolete less than a month after Christmas, and if the past ineptitude from Microsoft, retailers (Best Buy, Circuit City) and PC manufacturers (HP, Sony) repeats from the Windows XP Media Center Edition 2002-to-2004-to-2005 continues, new laptop/PC owners could find themselves spending hundreds of dollars to get the current OS, with no guarantee their machines will even be compatible.

5. Oblivion: Fragmented Cache Data Fix

Oblivion, one of the most hotly anticipated RPGs for this year, released yesterday, and has a bit of a bug.

Straight from the armored horse's mouth:

"Oblivion uses the Xbox 360 hard drive extensively to cache (copy and reuse) game data. This is done to optimize all loading the game does. It has been found in rare cases on some Xbox 360s that the cached data can get overly fragmented. This exhibits itself by the game taking a long time to load anything from menus, dialogue, sounds, objects, levels, and more.

"To solve this problem, reset your Xbox, and hold down the A button as the game is booting up. If any button is held while Oblivion is loading, it will clear its hard drive cache, and create a new one.

"Once you see the 'Bethesda Softworks' logo video, the game is already loaded, and the cache should have been cleared.

"Note, this does not effect your game in any way other than loading. You will not lose any saved data."
I'm curious as to whether the "hold a button down while loading to clear the game cache" is a Bethesda Softworks or Microsoft thing -- either way, someone was smartly thinking ahead.

Bumper sticker

On the way in to work this morning, a car in front me had a bumper sticker that read:
"My gamer fragged your honor student."
Sounds about right ...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Marvel brings "Halo" love to comic books

Marvel and Bungie said today Marvel will ship a 128-page color graphic novel anthology of tales set in the Halo universe in July.

Contributors include French comics artist Moebius, Phil Hale, Ed Lee, Tsutomo Nihei, Jay Faerber, Andrew Robinson, Simon Bisley, and Lee Hammock. There will also be a gallery, with professional comic artists and Bungie's internal art team contributions.

Marvel has exclusivity with Bungie for the comic rights to the Halo series -- so there should be a lot more coming.

Understand, I'm a comic book fanboy. And I'm a video game geek. And I really like Halo. If they do a cartoon and I can't get in on the voice acting, I'll likely have an aneurism.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Next Halo Game not "Halo 3"?

At the New York press event held yesterday for the announcement of Viva Piñata, Microsoft Game Studios boss Shane Kim dropped some nuggets:
"We're not here to talk about the mythical Halo 3, as I call it. We'll be talking about anything we're doing in the Halo universe - whether that's Halo 3 as I call it or anything else - at the right time. That time will be soon."
"Soon" probably doesn't mean GDC next week, but likely means E3 in May. says the new issue of Game Informer Magazine says "Bungie's next project is called Forerunner and although the game belongs to the Halo series, it might actually be a prequel with a storyline set in the Halo universe, but focused on the origins of the Forerunners, their connection to humanity, and the Covenants[sic]."

And "An insider source supposedly told Game Informer that the upcoming Halo movie will be based on the Halo: The Fall of Reach book with the game complementing the movie, and therefore being a prequel as well."

I haven't received my subscription copy of Game Informer Magazine, but I suspect this is in the "Rumour Mill"/"Loose Talk" section of the magazine.

However, I'm not thrilled, because it may confirm not only that the next Halo game won't see the light of day until 2007 (to coincide with the movie), but it also won't be the continuation of the prematurely truncated Halo 2.

When am I going to get the rest of the game I bought?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Pinatas are coming!

Microsoft Game Studios and 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. today celebrate the introduction of "Viva Piñata," a "high-energy, mass-appeal entertainment property" created by 18th-time's-the-charm" Rare Ltd.

This sounds like the next generation of Pokémon, and will see an animated series this fall, and an Xbox 360 exclusive this holiday season. I'm wondering if there will be a tie in to Microsoft's new portable.

Here's the party line:
Viva Piñata is a wacky, zany, and anything-can-happen comedy series that answers the question, for the first time ever, “Where do Piñatas come from?” In a lush environment on Piñata Island, a multitude of happy, colorful Piñatas live the sweet life, frolicking, dancing and filling themselves up with the most delicious goodies a child could ever want! Then they eagerly await the glorious day when they are ‘chosen’ by the Piñata Factory to attend birthday parties, and special celebrations all over the world ...

... and the promise of a violent, painful death by bludgeoning. Sounds like a good kids franchise.

More info (the game does sound kind of compelling):

Sony announces Nov. PS3 launch, new PSP news

Sony has confirmed the new PlayStation 3 (PS3) console will launch simultaneously worldwide in November of 2006.

At a Tokyo game developers conference, Sony Computer Entertainment President Ken Kutaragi said the console would launch within the first ten days of November. Reasons for the delay weren't given, but he did discuss delays in finalizing the specification of the Blu-ray drive.

Kutaragi hinted Sony expects to have a production capacity of one million units a month by November, and to ship six million units by the end of March 2007 (with maybe half of those in 2006).

While November is a big delay to the previously announced launch date of spring (assumed just for Japan), the U.S. is largely within expectations, and a November date for Europe is actually much earlier than assumed.

Kutaragi also briefly discussed plans for an Xbox Live style online service (currently called the "PlayStation Network Platform"; *yawn*). The possibly free service may include matchmaking, messaging, rankings, friends lists, voice and video chat, in-game shopping and game downloads. Publishers can connect their own servers (kind of like LucasArts and Electronic Arts with Xbox Live), but Sony Online Entertainment will provide the hardware infrastructure, and GameSpy will provide middleware tools and software. Probably a smart "buy; don't build" decision on Sony's part

Not much discussion on the PS3's hardware, other than its use of a 60GB hard drive pre-installed with Linux, which will apparently be mandatory for playing games. However, reports say Kutaragi indicated Sony had not yet decided whether the drive would be shipped with the console. Uh, "mandatory for playing games", but "[may not be] shipped with the console"?

Kutaragi re-confirmed backwards compatibility with PSone and PlayStation 2 titles (at higher resolutions, akin to what the Xbox 360 does), and said all PS3 games would be pressed on Blu-ray discs.

Final controllers and development kits will supposedly be sent to developers by May (maybe in time for E3?), and this would be better lead time than Microsoft gave developers for the 360 (where August/September dev kits were available for a November release).

On the PlayStation Portable front, Sony Announced a US PSP price cut, from $249 to $199, but the cheaper bundle may not include the 32MB Memory Stick Duo, soft case, remote control or headphones.

Heading off Nintendo's "Revolution"-ary ability (*groan*) to download and play classic first-party titles, Sony announced an "E-Distribution" emulator for the PSone, where users can download original 32-bit era PlayStation games and play them on the PSP. No further details were given on the service, launch, or how games would be adapted to play with one analogue controller. More telling to me is current PSP bundles only come with a 32 megabyte memory card, so the download service, along with price reductions on the current hardware, maybe hints at a new version of the PSP on its way (just like Nintendo did recently with the Nintendo DS price reduction and incentive bundles) -- possibly with a larger capacity storage device for the portable.

Sony announced support for video voice over IP (VVOIP), available in October via a webcam peripheral which Kutaragi described as an EyeToy – though it might not be used to play games.

Kutaragi also confirmed rumors of PSP Web browser support for Macromedia Flash games and RSS feeds. Finally, he said their would be support for global positioning satellite (GPS) functionality (kind of like the sadly defunct Gizmondo), although no timeline was given for any these additions.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

BioWare comes to Austin

Canadian videogame developer BioWare Corp. announced the opening of a new studio in Austin -- the first to be located outside of Canada.

BioWare Corp. are the dawgs behind a ton o' triple-A titles, including Jade Empire, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and the upcoming, Next-Gen Mass Effect.

The Austin section of the company is working on a new MMORPG (the first from BioWare Corp.).

Rich Vogel joins the Austin managing team (this is the project/company Vogel was so cagey about a few weeks ago at the "How to Break Into the Game Industry" conference), along with James Ohlen (BioWare Corp.'s Creative Director) and Gordon Walton. Vogel arguably started the Sony Austin studio, and Walton was an executive producer at Sony Online Entertainment as well as VP and Executive Producer at Electronic Arts.

Hey, they're hiring for a "Service Director" position. I'm a Service Director.

And I'm a voice actor.
And I'm in Austin.
And voice over for all player and NPC characters for MMORPGs is the New Hotness.
And I'm the New Hotness.

Rich, you have my contact info -- give me a call ... ;-)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Upcoming PS3 Announcement?

Websites like and Next-Generation are saying an announcement from Sony about the PlayStation 3 as early as next week.

It is coming up on the end of Sony's financial year, rumours are rampant about the PS3 delay, the PSP may be coming out with an included hard drive (and it needs functionality that makes that matter), and Sony eVP Phil Harrison is delivering a GDC.

Announcements could be about new PSP features, details of Sony's online
network, or ... Something else ....

Thursday, March 09, 2006

origamiproject revealed (sort of)

  1. Week #1
  2. Week#2 has revealed week #3, and it is a handheld -- the Ultra-Mobile PC.

Microsoft says it's "is portable, lightweight, and configured to connect on the go. It’s the device that you’ll always want with you" and "you can connect and communicate, accomplish any task anywhere and at any time".

Pretty broad statements for device that seems to have mixed technology and stuff not locked down.

For example, it trumpets "the power of Windows XP" (not Vista),; and vagaries like 'Approximately 7” diagonal display (or smaller)'; and "Minimum 800 x 480 resolution".

There are some interesting things:

  • Ability to use "full versions of Microsoft Office system software, Internet Explorer, and other Windows-compatible applications"
  • (Optional) GPS capabilities and mapping software
  • Ability to use as "an additional PC at home, at work, and everywhere in between"
  • "Buy music and movies and download them wirelessly"
  • "Enhance the way you experience TV, movies, and Web sites on a full-screen device"

Nothing about gaming.

The current models are made by ASUS and Samsung, and ... I think they look sucky. The tablet and 'Net devices I worked on 6 years ago were sexier looking than these things.

No word on a street date yet.

Details and picts at

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Spring launch for PlayStation 3 "Impossible"

According to Bloomberg News, Namco Bandai prez Takeo Takasu says it's "impossible" for Sony to launch the PlayStation 3 in its scheduled spring window.

With the Namco/Bandai merger, they are now Japan's second-biggest maker of toys and videogame software.

Takasu said "Without any announcements so far, the spring release is impossible,'' though they "are developing titles for PlayStation 3, but the release of the games depends on the timing of the hardware.''

I wonder if Sony is thinking, "Great, this is what we need from a partner."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Xbox games get cheaper! BF2MC delayed ...

  1. Xbox games get cheaper!
  2. Xbox 360 system update
  3. Elveon playable at E3
  4. Battlefield 2: Modern Combat slips


1. Xbox games just got cheaper!

Nice -- Just as the Xbox 360 titles are at an arguably unreasonable $60 a pop, many current-gen Xbox titles have dropped from $30 to $40.

Even better, sometime this month, a subset of the Xbox Platinum hits -- currently with an MSP of $19.99 -- will drop to $9.99.

Here's the list of the first bucket of titles (almost half are pretty worthwhile):
  • Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Bethesda Softworks)
  • Enter the Matrix (Atari)
  • Fuzion Frenzy (Microsoft Game Studios)
  • Project Gotham Racing 2 (Microsoft Game Studios)
  • Shrek 2 (Activision)
  • Soul Calibur II (Namco)
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon (Ubisoft)
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Island Thunder (Ubisoft)
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3(Ubisoft)
  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow (Ubisoft)
  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Ubisoft)
  • Tony Hawk's Underground (Activision)
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (Activision)
  • True Crimes: Streets of LA (Activision)
  • MechAssault (Microsoft Game Studios)
  • Counterstrike (Microsoft Game Studios)
2. Xbox 360 system update

Next time you log on to your Xbox 360, you're going to get a mandatory update. According to Microsoft:
The March 2006 Xbox 360 update will prepare your Xbox 360 console for future system and title updates. This free update is available to all Xbox Live members. Your console will be updated the next time you sign in to Xbox Live.
This is the second mandatory update for the Xbox 360 this calendar year.

3. Elveon playable at E3

10TACLE STUDIOS announced Elveon, their "fantasy action epic" (action RPG).

Check out the story on to watch a pretty slick trailer.

4. Battlefield 2: Modern Combat slips

Electronic Arts has pushed the release of Battlefield 2: Modern Combat for the Xbox 360 from March 15th to April 11th, saying the slip is "to place BF2MC in the best possible launch window."

Makes sense -- do they really want to compete with tactical shooter Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter or WWII blow-'em-up The Outfit in March?

On the upside, a mutliplayer demo will be available over Xbox live "mid-March".

Update on

So, March 2nd has arrived, and has updated for week #2.

A new Flash animation shows a bunch of locations (city, mountain top, woods, subway, inside of a car), and says, "I am here ... I am everywhere you are, but never in the way. Whom am I? Find out 3.9.06..."

Week number 3 is still grayed out.

Check this post for background.

I'm wondering if this is related to Microsoft's PalmOne/Verizon announcement. I can't help but think that deal was an entree into something much, much bigger -- say, wireless broadband for their possible handheld. Or maybe it's a rollout of technology for handhelds.

Or maybe it's the network itself.

More info no later than March 9th.