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Minecraft 360 Reviews: Halloween Texture Pack

This week 4J Studios has release their newest texture pack for the Xbox version of Minecraft. In the spirit of this time of year, this pack is suitably themed for Halloween. Before I dig into this texture pack, I want to say that the Halloween theme is free, but only available till November 3rd! So I encourage everyone to go out and download it regardless of if you think you’d like it or not. However, if you require more than “free for a limited time” to convince you (or you’re actually interested in reading this) then keep scrolling down.

Truth be told, I’m not really a fan of Halloween. That’s not to say I don’t like it, only that I don’t really get excited for it. While dressing up in costumes for one night a year is kinda fun, the whole spooky/death aspect of the holiday just really takes much of the fun out of it. Pirates? Cool. Power Rangers? Why not? Slave Leia? Yes, ma’am! Man in an over-sized demon mask with far too much detail and holding an all-to-realistic fake head of a murdered woman? No thanks. I don’t care for horror/scare movies; I don’t understand the appeal of taking time out of my life to willingly poop my own pants. I don’t like Witchcraft, and I don’t believe in ghosts or other perceived paranormal occurrences. So Halloween holds very little interest for me outside of a party with friends and a few well-made cocktails.

This is my kind of Halloween!

This is my kind of Halloween!

So with that being said, I can honestly say that I love this texture pack! I think this largely has to do with the world I have already built. Everything has a purplish hue to it with many lines being exaggerated by shadows. This allows stone bricks and other similar blocks to really pop without getting as garish as the Plastic texture pack (review to come later). Every object that is supposed to be related to fire has turned a bright green as if they are the creation of magic and not the laws of physics. Torches, fire, even lava share this same color, bringing a sense of consistency to this world.

My fortress of dark sorcery!

Everywhere you look there is a small detail that brings a fun and playfully spooky feel to the world. The world is filled with an orange haze by day and a slight purple fog by night. Stone blocks contain the imprint of skulls. Flowers are small, carnivorous creatures. Glowstone Lamps create silhouettes of black cats. Minecart rails are built on broken bones. Every tool and weapon has a splash of green goo as if they were used to slay some unholy creature. Every armor set is based on a costume with the coveted Diamond Armor represented by the every fearful clown. Even the sun and the moon bear the visage of a sharp-toothed beast watching over you. Did I mention the purple rain? The list goes on. Despite my dislike of the subject matter, this texture pack is done in such a fun way that I can’t help but love it. Perhaps if my world was built in another fashion I wouldn’t have as good feelings towards it, but with my current design it fits wonderfully.

TRANSLATION

Now what about the all-important issue of translation? Or more simply put, how well do these textures work with an already built world? Almost all the blocks remain the same, only with a new coat of flair. So for most builds and designs everything should be just fine. HOWEVER! If you like to use colored wool in your designs, whether for carpeting, pixel portraits, or colorful building design, you may find yourself in some trouble. Similar to the Mass Effect textures (again review to come), many of the colored wool blocks receive total overhauls. The pink wool has been replaced by a red eye peaking out of jungle wood planks. The turquoise and dark blue blocks turn into castle window panes. Oddly enough, the grey wool now becomes black wool while black wool becomes a glowing face emerging from a pine tree. These are all really great additions to make a completely ghoulish world, however they will likely end up ruining many gamers’ use of colored wool. Likewise, building a world starting with the Halloween textures will lead to possible complications if you go back to vanilla textures as all of the sudden you’ll have random pieces of wool placed in buildings or trees.

Colored Wool in Halloween…

…and in Vanilla.

VERDICT

So should you download this pack? Well, since it’s absolutely free and will no longer be available after November 3rd there isn’t any reason to not download it! If you don’t have a heavy use of colored wool in your world, then translation problems should be very little. Overall the textures bring a pretty cool twist to a game many of us have been playing for over a year now; even to passive Halloween participants like myself. Props to 4J for their most creative textures thus far!

Enjoy some of the pictures below, but if you want to see more, check out the rest of them (as well as vanilla screen caps of my world in progress) in my Photobucket album.

A Man And His Flowers

I don’t consider myself to be the manliest of men; I can’t walk around singing Gaston’s theme song with any sort of sincerity. However, I do enjoy many a manly thing. I have a love affair with steak, my dream car is a 1976 Pontiac GTO, I enjoy watching football and UFC, I love shooting guns at a range, and wrestling with my son is one of my favorite parts of the day. However, I’m not without a few…uh…less-than-manly likes. Moulin Rouge is one of my favorite films, I listen to some songs from Broadway in my spare time (not Rent! That show can burn. Don’t get me started on Cats…), and I’m building a collection of plumeria plants.

not this manly

I’m just not this manly…

As a Marine I was lucky enough to get mistakenly stationed in Hawaii. My first couple years were so busy with training and deployments that I didn’t get much actual time on the island. After my second tour in Iraq I finally had some time to actually live on the island alongside my newly imported Californian bride. We landed in a small apartment just outside of the base limits, so I had to actually commute to work instead of just living in the barracks. I ended up building up a habit of picking a flower from one of the hundreds of plumeria plants on base and taking it home to my wife for her to stick behind her ear. Not gonna lie, she looked pretty damn hot with a flower in her ear (as opposed to only being damn hot without one). So for me, the plumeria flower represents my first year of marriage; new, uncomplicated, kidless, free, sleep-filled, all-glass-ware marriage.

pretty pretty

I mean, ain’t that pretty?

When we left the island to return to California, we grabbed a few cuttings to bring home and grow our own little piece of Hawaii. However, my luck with the plants has been…well…non-existent. Of the three cuttings we brought back, two died from some disease after their first year here, leaving the smallest (like seriously, it’s really small. It’s like a stick pointing out of the ground) of the three to struggle to gain some sort of footing and consistent leafing. We tried supplementing it with three California-native plumerias, but had to amputate half of one to the same disease and none of them showed any signs of consistent growth or leafing, let alone bushels of flowers. Now, I understand that things can take a while to grow and mature, but all three California plants were guaranteed to bloom within a few months of when we go them. Not only did all three plants not live up to that guarantee, but none of them showed even basic signs of growth for two years!

I wasn’t happy about it. The plants only aggravated what was already the most difficult time (so far) in my marriage. Due to PTSD-induced social anxiety and depression I dropped out of college and gave my wife and I debt instead of income in order to pay back the GI benefits I had used. My wife got pregnant and I had no real job. Finding work for a former Infantryman with no other career experience was tough and only furthered my depression. I finally landed an inconvenient, but survivable-paying job just before my son arrived. Adjusting to having a small human being to care for while being gone for the second half of the day put a lot of stress on my relationship with my wife. It eventually got to the point where neither of us really wanted to be around each other. She needed me to help bring her some security and peace-of-mind, and she grew resentful that all I wanted to do was escape into another virtual world. Most of all, she struggled to understand that there was nothing she could do to help my depression. I needed her to be supportive of me and my problems, but it only got worse the more frustrated she became of being unable to help me.

I would come home from my swing shift well past midnight. The world would be asleep, as it well should. But by the glow of a single porch light I would come home, dreading the life that awaited me beyond that door, and by that light I would see these sad, incapable plumeria plants guiding my way. I viewed these plants as a symbol of my marriage. What were supposed to be beautiful bushes were sad sticks poking out of the dirt. There were no leaves to indicate health or growth. Instead of coming home to flowers and tropical scents, I came home to dark, empty air. The promises of how things should be were nothing more than cruel reminders of a reality too far off to see. I grew angry with the plants, as if they somehow were responsible for my current state. My nightly return from work only increased my frustration as I walked by the plants. I wanted them to give me the flowers I so desperately wanted to put in my wife’s hair, as if that would suddenly rectify all of my problems and return my marriage to a state closer to where we first started. As it turned out, these plumeria refused to lend a helping hand.

I instead stumbled upon a group of former military members while playing one of my many escapes and joined with their group for frequent play. I’ll save the details for a different post, but these fellow servicemen helped lay the groundwork for my wife to understand my issues, and for me to move beyond them. I helped establish a private section of our site called Battle Buddies. It was a place for members to go to vent in a safe environment where no one but other military members can see. I started the section with a long post about my own personal struggles. Here I could say the words I needed to tell my wife, words I could not tell her myself. Instead I simply had her read what I wrote. It seemed to help give her (and even myself) some perspective of what I was actually going through. I also nabbed a second part-time job that is both challenging and enjoyable. Both have aided me in bettering myself and completing my transition into a civilian life. It’s not a perfect fix, though. I’m in a much better mood than I was, though I’m not without my bad days. I am more motivated to improve myself, though there are still many roadblocks that bring my progress to a halt. I’m still constantly challenged to keep my marriage from stagnating like it had, and to continue helping each other as we grow together as a couple and as a family.

Finally, after almost three years…

I still come home most nights well after midnight, but instead of being greeted by sickly shadows of failure I get large green leaves and a colorful spike of flowers. After years of waiting, all of my plants have finally started to put some real effort into growing big and green. I was even gifted with not only one, but THREE of my plants putting up flower spikes. Only one has turned into actual flowers so far (see above), but I’m actually happy having a staggered blooming to extend the time I get to enjoy them. Unfortunately, this first batch isn’t the kind that makes good hair-dressing, especially with an active toddler and infant running/rolling around. I do enjoy them, though, and they’re a pleasant sight to see after so long. My wife loves to go outside with my son and smell the flowers. Even though I’m not around enough to put them in her hair, I’m glad to see that she still gets to enjoy them.

I no longer return home to reminders of everything wrong with my life, nor to symbols of success. Instead I come home to some beautiful plants that my wife and I both enjoy. No more aggravation. No more disappointment. Just flowers. I can be happy with that.

Good ‘Ol Capitalistic Competition

I remember the day vividly. I had taken the day off so I wouldn’t miss a thing. I woke up earlier than usual so I could travel to the best vantage point for what was about to come. It was June 10, 2013; the first day of E3. I watched every moment from my brother’s 55″ 120hz TV in glorious, uncompressed HD, a computer in front of me to monitor a live blog (while also live blogging myself for BTDT) and my iPhone in my hand with the latest twitter feeds from press on the scene. I was ready to see what developers had been keeping under wraps for the past several years. I was ready to see the next generation of gaming.

Xbox One

Xbox One – via forbes.com

Microsoft kicked off the day with an amazing conference, despite a few technical hiccups, and showcased so many games that I had trouble tracking what was going on. Publisher EA easily took away my award for best conference of the show, showing off the beautiful Garden Warfare shooter, Battlefield 4 multiplayer, Titanfall multiplayer, and announcing a new Mirror’s Edge game and a new Star Wars Battlefront game by DICE (which literally brought a tear to my eye).  Ubisoft went third in a somewhat lackluster conference if only because we saw many amazing projects that we had already seen before. Compared to all the newness of Microsoft’s and EA’s conferences, Ubisoft’s conference lacked much of the same punch, at least it did until Sony took the stage.

Playstation 4

Playstation 4 – via uncrate.com

After all the amazing worlds I had been introduced to throughout the day, the last conference lead by Sony was downright boring. Sony’s big marquee PS4 titles had already been debuted months earlier, making their appearance appreciated, but not surprising. Sony also had to take time out of their show to talk about TV/video streaming offerings and teased projects from Sony’s movie production studios; announcements that have little place at E3 any other year, let alone the year of new consoles. Add in the large amount of time Sony spent on well-known Indie developers (some whose showcased projects had been out for over a year) and you end up with a very unexciting conference. The conspiracy theorist in me would say that Sony made their conference boring on purpose just to give their last few minutes more impact.

After months of silence Sony (and controversy about Microsoft’s new policies) finally threw a sucker-punch at Microsoft: no restrictions on used games. Then a hay-maker followed: no internet check-in required for the console to work. Sony finished with an uppercut to Microsoft’s jaw: a launch price of $399 ($100 less than the Xbox One’s $499 launch price). I have been following the tech industry for quite some time now, so seeing one company compare their products against another is nothing new. However, I have not seen a company so specifically target its competition’s weaknesses in such a brutal, open fashion. Especially when almost every rumor and insider comment about Sony’s policies indicated that they would be following in a similar (if not exact) manner to Microsoft’s. As surprised as I was about what Sony was trying to pull off, I can’t imagine how the suits at Microsoft felt.

Sick burn

This is how Playstation 4 shares games… – via technobuffalo.com

In the two months since, both Sony and Microsoft have been going back and forth with reversals and one-ups. Microsoft has dropped nearly all of the major complaints of the Xbox One save for the Kinect in every box and the $499 price tag. When Microsoft announced a 1000 person limit to the new friends list, Sony came out and said the PS4 limit was 2000. Microsoft announced that their video sharing feature would be locked behind a Gold membership, Sony came out and said that theirs required no such subscription. Back and forth, back and forth.

I’ll be honest, I’m pretty disappointed that Microsoft has had to back track on so many of their policies because of the angry Internet. While I had some reservations about their radical change, I do believe that their plans were the biggest step towards an actual next-generation of games and entertainment than what Sony is offering. However, I’m pretty excited about this sudden need for Microsoft to compete with Sony. With Nintendo all but refusing to compete in a post-iPhone world, Sony is the only company that has the capability to go head-to-head with Microsoft in the gaming space. Again, I think Microsoft were more concerned with competing against Apple and Google than Sony, but I am pretty surprised at how well Sony managed to drag down Microsoft to compete on their level. It’s a rare example today of capitalism at work. In a world of mega-corporations and government-back duopolies, consumers don’t often get to see one of the things that is supposed to make our country great: competition. These past couple months have truly been exciting for the gaming space because of it.

Next-Gen Gaming: Titanfall

Titanfall – via polygon.com

I am sad that we will have to wait a few more years before we have truly next-generation gaming experience, but gamers on both sides of the console space (and you PC folks as well) need to realize that this competition between Sony and Microsoft is only something that will give us better experiences. Whether you’re a Sony-drone, an Xbot, or a PC elitist, this is an exciting time for all. Don’t get mad, don’t get depressed. Be happy! It’s been almost a decade since we’ve had an environment like this, so enjoy the change!

Xbox OneEighty

Ok, so this title has been a bit overused in recent months, but it’s quite fitting. Anyone who spent time on the Internet during this past E3 knows that the subject of next-gen consoles is a bit sensitive. Mostly it all revolved around several steps Microsoft was taking with their upcoming Xbox One that sounded (and actually were) extreme. Well, it’s been two months since the game conferences of E3 and the story of the X1 has changed quite a bit. I know that not everyone here has the time or inclination to follow every piece of news about the games industry, so I’ve put together this helpful list of policies MS has changed up since the last big game conference.

via arstechnica.com

ORIGINAL POLICY
The X1 will require an internet connection once every 24-hours in order to function. The authorization check-in is measurable in kilobytes, but the lack of a connection will render the game/stream functionality of the console useless until a connection is made. While this allowed MS to introduce a new, interesting digital sharing plan, it also meant that users without an internet connection at all would be unable to use the console.

XBOX 180
The X1 no longer requires the internet in order to function regularly. The console WILL require an initial connection to the internet for a patch to disable the feature and add last-minute updates. After that patch is downloaded and installed, the console will never need to connect to the Internet to function again.


ORIGINAL POLICY
As physical games are treated as digital purchases and added to your permanent account, the ability to sell your game to another party is up to the developer of the game. If a developer so chooses, any physical game you purchase cannot be resold. If a developer so chooses, any physical games you purchase can be resold just like now. The developer can decide what route to take.

XBOX 180
With the X1 no longer needing an internet check-in, physical games are no longer treated as digital purchases. This means that you can resell or gift your physical discs just like you can on current systems. There is no longer a restriction on used games, whether decided by MS of third parties.


ORIGINAL POLICY
Current-gen headsets will not work with the X1. The X1 is switching from an analog port to a new digital port that delivers better quality sound in addition to stereo chat capabilities (for directional detection).

XBOX 180
MS announced that they are in fact working on an adapter for current-gen headsets to be used with the new X1 controller. While the expected cost of the adapter won’t mean much for those with the stock 360 headset, for those with expensive headsets (like my $350 Trittons), this reversal is a Godsend. For those using the headset that came with the 360…


ORIGINAL POLICY
The X1 will not ship with a headset. Users will instead use the new Kinect for their chatting needs. While the new Kinect’s voice detection is quite amazing (all audio processing is done on a separate chip so the Kinect knows exactly what sound to cancel out), it does not address the issue of users needing to sort out the voice chat from the rest of the game’s sound coming through their speakers. If gamers want, they can purchase a basic headset for $24.99 on launch day.

XBOX 180
Every X1 will ship with the $24.99 headset in the box at no additional fee. The headset is still available for separate purchase, but users are no longer required to spend more money to use one.


ORIGINAL POLICY
The X1 will not function without the Kinect being plugged in. Users have the ability to disable functionality of the Kinect in their settings (and even go so far as to turn the sensor off), but the sensor must still be plugged in for the system to work.

XBOX180
The X1 will function without the Kinect being plugged in. If users want, the X1 can function completely without the Kinect. Of course, features like voice commands and motion gestures will still require the Kinect to work. This also means that some games will be unplayable without the Kinect, however those games can be avoided. Users who do want to plug their sensor in will have a very detailed options list for what the Kinect can do. Users can set the Kinect to only detect the “Xbox On” command and sign into their accounts, or whatever combination they choose.


ORGINAL
(Technically not a policy as MS never confirmed the policy when it was supposedly leaked)
Developers who want their games on the Xbox Digital Marketplace will still need a publisher to be sold. Independent developers will need to partner with Microsoft Studios or another publisher in order for their game to appear in the marketplace. Patches for games will still cost several thousand dollars to go through the MS certification process.

XBOX 180
(Technically not a 180 as MS never confirmed the policy when it was supposedly leaked)
MS stopped charging for update certification back in late March. All updates are free for all developers. While the X1 will not support self-publishing at launch, MS will enable it within the console’s first year. Independent developers will no longer need to partner with a publisher in order to sell their games on the X1 Marketplace. Self-publishing for the Xbox 360 will be enabled by September of this year.
Also, every X1 console has the ability to be turned into a devkit for developers. Instead of spending thousands of dollars to buy a single devkit, developers will only need $500 for an X1 console and a phone call to MS to have a working devkit to test their games on.


So those are the reversals announced so far. For those of you who were turned off by these former policies, does MS’s reversal change your mind any? Are you willing to come back, or is it too late for you?

That’s No Moon…

As a parent, you find yourself putting words together to form a sentence that no normal person would ever think to say. “Cows are not for throwing.” “Please don’t bounce the boat against my shins.” “Don’t spit on the baby.” “Dump trucks don’t belong in bed.”  Nearly every day provides a new opportunity to converse with another human being like you’re setting up a Family Guy cut-away gag. However, I never actually thought that I would ever be given the opportunity to say such a well-known sentence in a real conversion with a real person.

We’re talking about a line uttered in a science fiction movie here.

If you have a child who has a fascination with heavy machinery and construction vehicles (and you have a Netflix subscription) I highly suggest checking out the show “Mighty Machines”. It’s basically a “how stuff works” series for kids that shows real construction vehicles, boats, planes, trains, and other specialized equipment doing whatever it is they do. It’s a pretty neat show. Like most shows for kids, however, it can get old pretty quick. When your child wakes you up with excited demands for “mitey masheens” every morning for several weeks, you simply want to kill the show’s creators. My wife and I have tried introducing different shows and movies, but they never seem to distract for long. Finally, I decided to try to introduce my son to the franchise I have grown up loving that had also been introduced to me by my father: Star Wars.

I started him off with Episode IV, the first and original film. I can honestly say that he didn’t immediately take to it. Thankfully he already had some affiliations with robots, so R2 and 3PO helped ease him in. It took a little while of constantly keeping him engaged, distracting him with the film so that he continued to watch the film, but by the time the Millennium Falcon escaped from Tatooine, he was pretty hooked on it. Of course we eventually get to the scene where the  the gang comes out of hyperspace and comes face to face with the Empires greatest weapon: the Death Star.

Of course upon first look it appears to be nothing more than a moon. That’s what Han Solo thought, and that’s what my son thought. Seen at a distance, my son was quick to point at the Death Star and say, “Look! Moon!”

opportunity

When opportunity knocks, take action.

I mean, seriously, how many people have this opportunity? Sure, just about everyone who ever walked the earth post-1977 has quoted it, but how many people have had the real opportunity to inform someone that what they are looking at isn’t actually a moon, but a giant weapon of death? I could barely keep myself from laughing as I attempted to correct him, “That’s no moon…it’s a space station!” My son continued to go on calling it a moon, so that’s something we’ll have to work on. Still, I was made super nerd-happy by being able to say it to my son, and I’ll be happy to continue to introduce him to this wonderful universe and all it holds. Heck, this is the kid who got excited when the Storm Troopers first appeared and called then “piggies” because he’s played Angry Birds: Star Wars. I think he’s off to a good, if somewhat misguided, start.

I can’t believe that I was given such an amazing opportunity to use such an iconic quote in a real situation, even if it was with a two-and-a-half year old boy. Now if I can only find an opportunity of shouting, “Let’s burn this candle!” before something awesome happens, I’ll be a pretty satisfied guy.

Next-Gen Talk: Longer Runways, Better Planes

I really need to hurry up and finish up this blog series. Not only did I not have these topics out before the PS4 unveiling, but the Xbox successor will be shown off in less than three weeks! Talk about procrastination. Anyways, to continue where I last left off I want to dive into the brand-spankin’ new engines that will be powering our bigger, better worlds and why they’re such a big deal.

UnrealEngine 4, Frostbite 3, CryENGINE 3, Luminous, Fox, Disrupt…These are the names of some of the biggest, newest workhorses that will be powering the worlds of next-gen video games. In addition to being more powerful tools taking advantage of more powerful hardware, these engines will be much smarter than any before them. While they will most certainly bring a new coat of polish to our games, the biggest difference these engines will have will not be seen by most gamers. For the purposes of this blog I will be using UnrealEngine 4 (UE4) for my examples as it is the engine we know most about and I believe it is indicative of how the other engines will work (not in exact execution, but rather in ideal and function).

If you haven’t seen it, I would take the time to watch demo of UE4. No, I’m not talking about the Elemental or Infiltrator pixel-porn videos; I’m talking about the demo of the actual engine and how it works. It’s actually pretty interesting to watch. After a short demonstration of how many particles UE4 can render and how much more dynamic the dynamic lighting is, the video takes the majority of its time to show the back-end of the engine and how artists and programmers will be using it. At its core, UE4 is more about ease of use and automated processes than it is about better lighting filters or texture rendering. Rather than relying solely on hard-coding techniques, UE4 is focused more on sliders and blueprints. The goal is to give artists more power over what they do and free up the hands of programmers to focus more on their individual work.

In another demo, an artist with only a little programming experience shows off the good-looking and functional games he made in only a few days time. It’s a pretty amazing demonstration of what game artists will be able to do without ever interrupting a programmer’s work. That’s not to say that dedicated programmers won’t be needed with these new engines. On the contrary, programmers will simply have more time to fix bugs, improve artificial intelligence routines, and work on overall gameplay mechanics.

Shrinking the Development Budget?

Even though these game engines will allow developers to use their time and money more wisely, I do not believe these engines will make much of a dent in the pockets of Triple-A developers. Sure, devs will be able to use smaller teams for their projects (I believe that the recent layoffs by EA and others are a small indicator of that), but most of the big name devs will simply use the time they save to focus more on bug fixing and post-release content creation. It’s money that is saved only to be spent elsewhere.

However (comma, pause for effect)… Licensed engines such as UE4 and CryENGINE 3 will have a very considerable effect on mid-tier and indie game developers. Studios that don’t have the budget of Call of Duty or the massive team sizes of Ubisoft will benefit from using these engines. With very reasonable licensing options, these engines will give near Triple-A power to these much smaller teams. That last demo showed what one man with a few days can make. What could be possible to a team of five people over the course of six months? Heck, with digital distribution and more equal pricing of online games added to these engines, we may even see a small revival of the dying B-tier game!

Well, there’s always hoping.

Longer Runways, Better Planes

While I cannot tell you exactly how each engine will accomplish these ideals, I can honestly say that I do believe that the greatest impact they will have will be on ease of use and simplicity, rather than simply putting more particles on-screen. Ubisoft has said that their teams are able to do in days what used to take weeks, and the only in-game footage of Bungie’s next game, Destiny, shown to gaming press was a demonstration on how quickly their programmers could build a new, highly-detailed map. So it’s pretty safe to say that time-management is going to be a big deal. But oh how many particles will be on-screen!

These next-generation consoles will be giving developers a much longer runway to work with. As it turns out, developers will be bringing much better planes (not just bigger ones) that can make even better use of that runway. I, for one, am pretty excited about that!

Community Involvement

Thanks again for choosing to spend your time reading my thoughts. I hope to see ya’ll back again with my next topic: One Game, Every Device. Until then, what is one thing you want most from these next engines? Larger worlds? Better physics? A button that automatically inserts an 80’s movie reference? Post your comments below.

Xbox Announcement: Temper Your Expectations

It’s official, Microsoft is making a new Xbox! I mean, everyone has known this since forever ago, but Microsoft has finally admitted it themselves, which is the key announcement we needed. Earlier today Microsoft put out invitations to many games and tech press outlets to go to Microsoft’s own campus in Redmond, Washington to see the next generation of Xbox. Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked that the last company has admitted their next-gen exploits and am looking forward to the announcement.

 

 

HOWEVER!

 

If you’re going in to this announcement expecting some E3 style bonanza, then you’ll be pretty sad. In fact, if you watch the event expecting more than “some” of the announcement being about video games, I think you’ll be very disappointed. This May event will more in common with an iPhone announcement than an E3 press conference. Sure, there will be games (we’ll probably receive a sizzle reel or even an announcement or two), but Microsoft will be saving most of their gaming announcements for E3 proper. This event will be mostly about the hardware build and the consumer services it will provide. You know, like a tech announcement.

 

Wait, why are you mad? Haven’t you complained about Microsoft’s E3 events being too focused on Kinect games and TV stuff? Well, this is one way Microsoft will be able to reign their E3 events back to a more gaming centric focus than they have been in the past couple years. The May event will allow them to really dive into Kinect functionality, family appeal, and general media hub usage. Microsoft will talk quite a bit about its integration with Windows 8 devices, social networks, and existing cable/satellite/internet providers. This will be an event catering to Microsoft’s larger non-gaming audience without any buzz from other events from Apple, Google, or Samsung or the general hubbub of E3 and the slew of post-E3 events (Comic-Con, PAX, Gamescom, etc.).

Don’t worry. Let Microsoft take the time to get this out of their system. The more about Kinect they talk about in May, the less we’ll have to hear about it at E3. And really, the turnaround is pretty quick. It’s less than three weeks between the May event and their Monday press conference for E3. We’ll get a taste for what Xbox will be bringing to the table in May and get a full helping 19 days later. Be patient. Before we know it, it will be June 10 and we’ll be sitting down to watch eight straight hours of unadulterated next-generation goodness to kick off a whole week of announcements. Just don’t be hating when May isn’t as satisfactory as you liked.

 

Thank You!

Once again, thanks for your time. Despite my cautions to not get you hopes up, what are you hoping Microsoft shows off at this event? And please, don’t just say “New IP”. Be specific.