Thursday, April 08, 2004

Easier game coding key to sucess of XBox 2? Also, FBI on XBox Live...

I have been told that coding games for the XBox is very difficult and expensive. Add to that the difficulty of dealing with the massive bureaucracy of Microsoft and you may have the answer to why there aren't as many games out for XBox as there are for Playstation 2 (even discounting Playstation 1 games). There are also less games made exclusively for the XBox, such as Halo, as there are for the Playstation 2. This CNN article notes that it costs an average of $10 million to make a game for any of the consoles (and it will only go up with 64 bit gaming), which greatly limits entry into the business of game development - a small company can't afford to put out a flop.

As an XBox owner, my main complaint is the limited selection of games. Microsoft is addressing some of the difficulties with coding games for the XBox in the upcoming XBox 2 with the a new software development platform called XNA. XNA is a suite of tools that "will let developers skip writing boilerplate code that often bogs down the time it takes to create a game."

The best thing about XNA is that it will be used both for writing games for XBox 2 and for creating PC games, which means that XBox Live users and PC users will be able to play together in virtual worlds - MMOG's are going to get even more massive.

Article here.

It also appears that Microsoft is scrapping hard drives in favor of flash memory for the XBox 2. Gizmodo is not yet convinced. Just guessing, but flash memory would make the XBox run much faster in some situations, but may be a much smaller amount of memory as flash is expensive.

In other XBox 2 news - the government wants to listen in on you as you frag your mates! People who are concerned about the Gmail privacy issue should be much more concerned about this. Maybe terrorists will use the XBox 2 to communicate, who knows. There is a proposal before the FCC that all internet communications programs be built with a backdoor that will allow the FBI to listen in on conversations. The concern is that soon VOIP (voice over internet) will be taking over the use of normal phones and the FBI will no longer have an effective means of eavesdropping on suspects. The proposal is broad in what services it will include and the XBox Live service will fall within it. The FBI would still be required to obtain a warrant in order to listen in (I imagine). More on this later.


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