The birth of xbox live

Great article from Russ Pitts at Polygon that details Xbox Live and the bets that Microsoft made all those years ago.

I still remember getting on the beta service for Xbox Live. Moto GP was the game and that first time on Xbox Live felt so alien. With the headset on I could hear others but talking felt wrong. I quickly realised it’s potential as the first couple of sessions saw me racing the Moto GP developers. Xbox Live was awesome!

A couple of hours later and Live’s true future was realised when I heard the words ‘get out the way ya fannie’. Two young Glaswegians were also on the beta and thought it was hilarious to curse and swear to everyone in the room.

The highs and lows of Xbox Live.

Pro Evo 5

Now that I’ve had to chance to play this properly online I have to say I’m disappointed. It still is the best soccer game and the online play has been improved since last year…but the reality is it’s a lazy conversion and update.

Where’s the widescreen options, why are the graphics still average, the dodgy pitches that make it difficult to see the ball – I could go on with grumbles. Oh – not forgetting that you can’t really use the PS2 pad on Xbox as they stop you swapping the controls round properly – I’m just sticking with the Xbox pad as the controls tweaks brought in for the PSP means only one trigger doesn’t make much difference. 2vs 2 online was promised but only if 2 are on the same Xbox – doh!

Lag has improved but isn’t a thing of the past. Each player now hosts one half which in theory makes it fair – in practice I’ve found the player not hosting plays very defensively for the half hoping that his smooth half will result in goals – not the way it should be played. It’s also difficult to get a random game. From looking at the forums it seems to be because leagues have been introduced – you get points for games you win and then you are allocated into a league – if a player with high points loses against a player with less points then they lose quite a bit more than if they were equal. Pretty sad really but stats still rule the roost.

Live is also still full of sore losers. Why does everyone want to play with the best teams only – missing so much by playing with the same teams over and over. There are also so many people who can’t take a beating. Hello to the guy that beat me on penalties (Chelsea v Arsenal) this afternoon and then when I suggested a rematch with swapped teams he agreed but then picked a better team instead of Arsenal. Made the 4-1 drubbing even sweeter – the language he came out with – I guess me laughing over the headset didn’t help. Child.

Worth the purchase if you intend to play online although 11 vs 11 online seems further away than ever.

360 Titbits

Now that the 360 launch is just over 6 weeks away (for which I didn’t pre-order which makes chances of picking one up slim) there is some nice details coming out about the features we’ll see. My Xbox will launch in the next couple of weeks. For the stat whores and just plain nosey this will allow you to see and compare your friends progress in games, what they are playing and their achievements throughout all their games. Some downtime for Live on Monday 24th will see the upgrades take place – we’ll then see just how good the website integration with the Live service is. This is where MS have a big advantage over Sony – it will be interesting to see just how much they push the web and online gaming features over the coming months.

The 360 pad has had great previews so far. What I’d missed until today is that it connects via a standard USB port. Therefore to use it on Windows you just need to download the correct drivers and you’ll instantly have a great pad for the PC. At last.

Finally – gaming servers. The Live service on the Xbox has been good apart from on thing – no server support. This has meant 16 players games as a max, and more than usual only 8 before lag kicks in. Compare that to PC games where 32-64 player games are more the norm thanks to the games being hosted on servers. The 360 looked to be changing that with Call of Duty 2 rumoured to have 64 player support. Alas, it’s 8 player although they won’t stop you hosting more if your connection can take it. Hopefully Perfect Dark Zero will allow for more…even if you have to pay slightly more for the service I would at least like to have the option.