Week of May 22, 2005
GameSpot's Rumor Control: Cease production of current-gen. Xbox?
>> From GameSpot's Rumor Control:
* RUMOR: Microsoft is planning to cease production of the current-generation Xbox sometime in the near future.
* Source: Graphics chipmaker Nvidia's Q1 2005 earnings conference call.
* The official story: "We have made no announcements about discontinuation of production and continue to support the channel."--Microsoft corporate spokesperson.
* What we heard: In its call, Nvidia revealed that it will stop chip shipments to Microsoft after Q2 2005. "Microsoft has indicated they will not take any more product after Q2," said Nvidia CFO Marvin Burkett, "And more importantly, we have stopped production of the Xbox and expect to have no inventory after Q2." Since Nvidia chips are an essential component of the Xbox, such a move would portent a discontinuation of the console's production, possibly in advance of the Q4 Xbox 360 launch. But although Microsoft reps told GameSpot that we "should not make a correlation between chip production and overall manufacturing," such a move is not implausible. Microsoft has said its new console will be backward compatible, telling GamSpot that its "goal is to have every Xbox game work on Xbox 360." Fully backward-compatible 360s would make current-generation Xboxes unnecessary without shrinking the customer base of current-gen Xbox titles due for release next year. Indeed, discontinuing the Xbox may prove a shrewd marketing move that will funnel gamers into the Xbox 360 pipeline. Michael Pachter, senior analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities, told GameSpot, "They aren't leaving profits on the table because they're not making any money on the Xbox hardware. I think what their view is, and I'm guessing because they haven't announced it, is that if they stop making Xboxes, but you like our product, you'll buy the 360. So that will help the 360 installed base to grow more rapidly."
* Bogus or not bogus?: Nothing is official yet, but one thing is certain: the current-gen Xbox's days are numbered.
Read more 'rumor controls' on gamespot.com.
X3 3283 BIOS
>> Team Xecuter(info) released a new build of the X3 Bios with Config Live (OS).
* added: all kernel fixes from X2 build 5032
* added: DVD XBE boot filename now configurable
* fixed: Cleans up system a lot more when launching, fonts seemed to be stuck.
* fixed: Fixed a few possible font-issue in keyboard, if skin was wrongly configured - it could be a reason to crash
* fixed: Fixed a screenshot issue in keyboard-mode, BACK + WHITE now screenshoots keyboard as well as the background
* fixed: Fixed http and ftp caching so recieving files should be a lot more stable now
* fixed: Fixed total HD size in x3data.txt
* fixed: Numerous other system fixes and tweaks
* notes: report REAL bugs here
* notes: to check old bugs for testing purposes go here
Official Site: http://www.teamxecuter.com/
Download: n/a (contains MS copyrighted code)
Xbox 360 set to cost around $300; final pricing decision within months
>> From GamesIndustry.biz:
Speaking to TheStreet.com, Allard said that he was "not sure" about the final price point, with a decision on pricing still "probably about two months away" - but confirmed that the price would "be in the neighbourhood" of the $300 price tag of Xbox at launch.
Regarding the exact date on which the Xbox 360 will arrive, Allard refused to be drawn - sticking to the oft-repeated games industry mantra of "when it's done" and stating that the full logistics of the worldwide launch have yet to be worked out.
Read the whole article on GamesIndustry.biz.
Video Poker X
>> From readme/nfo:
This quite simply, is a video poker game based on Double Double Bonus Poker.
It was written for my personal bar setup and a custom controller with big buttons in a line, like a real video poker machine. Playing on a regular controller is a bit odd at first, but isn't too bad once you get the hang of it.
I released this because I wanted to give back to the community, and maybe someone else wanted to run this kind of setup themselves in their own bar setting.
Official Site: n/a, by ti85man
Download: n/a (built with XDK)
News-Source/Full Readme: xbins.org
3 years Xbox-Linux Project: Launch of Free60 Project
>> Not really today actually ... it was the 23th of this month, but news was only posted today on their website. Congrats to the team for all the great work they did on the Xbox from the early Tux on the Xbox boot logo to the Cromwell(info) bootloader, NoModchip MechInstaller(info) and fully featured linux distros like Xebian(info) and many other distros ported to Xbox based on Team Xbox-Linux's work.
We hope we'll see more Xbox releases and Xbox 360 developments from this great team!
Happy Birthday Xbox-Linux! The project is now 3 years old. To celebrate this, we have started the Free60 Project, which aims to port open source operating systems like GNU/Linux and Darwin to the Xbox 360.
Xbox 360 Kiosk, Play and Charge Kit and Rechargeable Battery Pack
>> Some new images/scans have appeared on the internet. It's probably coming from information that has been or will be sent to resellers.
First there's the Xbox 360 kiosk with a 23" HDTV LCD screen posted on gokis.net. It will be available in gamestores around the world where it will allow people to try out the Xbox360 console and games. The image (click image for full view with text) also informs us people will be able to bring their mem card and download content from the kiosk.
Then there's the 'Play & Charge Kit' and 'Rechargeable Battery Pack' posted on playerone.be.
The 'Play & Charge Kit' (left) will connect the controller with the Xbox360 console and recharge the battery while you'll still be able to use the now wired controller to play - very useful if your battery runs out in the middle of the game.
The 'Rechargeable Battery Pack' (right) will connect directly to a powersocket.
News-Sources: gokis.net and playerone.be.
Thanks to j0k3r for the link/news.
Toshiba sees eventual unified HD DVD format
>> From Reuters.com:
Toshiba (HD-DVD) and Sony Corp. (Blu-ray), leading rival camps, have waged a three-year battle to have their standards adopted for new DVDs, which promise much greater capacity for high-definition movies.
But Ken Kutaragi, known as the father of the PlayStation, suggested on Thursday there was a still window of opportunity for a unified format.
"The only hope is if we can reach an agreement in a week or two on a new format that is not that different from Blu-ray physically," Kutargai told reporters at a gathering of business executives when asked if there were still time to agree on a unified format and have that incorporated in the PlayStation 3.
"We may actually have a situation where merchandise from both sides is put on store shelves. But the market would not allow that situation to last very long," Toshiba President Tadashi Okamura told Japanese business leaders.
The two sides have been engaged in a last-ditch effort to forge a common format, but no substantial progress has been made so far.
Read the whole article on Reuters.com.
More Interviews: Shane Kim, Peter Moore and Todd Holmdahl
>> 3 more interesting interviews you may want to check out:
* Peter Moore - Worldwide Marketing and Publishing Xbox.
Short excerpt from www.computerandvideogames.com:
Q (CVG): How important are the Japanese games and developers for Xbox 360's success?
A (Moore): I've spilt a lot of blood for Xbox in Japan. But when you see that we've got Sakaguchi, Okamoto, Mizuguchi and Final Fantasy XI on Xbox Live you can sense the shift in momentum for Xbox in Japan. We've heard so many different complimentary stories about how what we do things is better than how Sony does things. We're evangelical. That's the way Microsoft works. We call it 'dev love', in that without developers all we'd have is a platform. A great platform, but a platform without games all the same.
Q (CVG): So will Xbox 360 launch on the same day across the world?
A (Moore): Will you be able to buy the console on the same day around the world? Probably not. Will it be a week or ten days later? Probably. But it definitely won't be the six months and 479 Euros it was last time.
Check out the interview whole on www.computerandvideogames.com
* Shane Kim - Head of Microsoft Game Studio
Short excerpt from xbox360.ign.com:
Q (IGN): I wanted to know at what point the development kits were, and at what level these games are being shown. Are these games being shown at only 20% to 30% of the Xbox 360's capacity? Are they running on the Xbox 360 graphics chip? Peter Moore was saying that the games shown at the conference, for the most part, were in-game generated using the latest dev kits, and are PC based, and using a PC-based graphics chip. So, can you tell us about where these games visually are now, versus where they'll be at launch?
A (Shane): I think a safer approximation is that we're probably at 25% of the power of that we'll really be. I think as we progress in the hardware, you'll see a tremendous improvement in terms of graphical fidelity. And I think from a development standpoint, we've been using the time very wisely because we haven't been trying to make the games look as great as possible necessarily on the hardware development kits that we have today. We've been really working hard on things like gameplay, things that we really push now. So, visually? Probably 25% of where we can be.
Check out the whole interview on xbox360.ign.com
* Todd Holmdahl - Xbox Product Group (He's responsible for all the hardware development, hardware and semiconductor teams, manufacturing, and test teams)
It's a bit older interview that I missed, but it refers to homebrew development ... so it's worth mentioning I think. Here's a short excerpt from extremetech.com:
Q (ET): The original Xbox was home to a lot of homebrew development that Microsoft didn't really intend for. But that kind of thing has proven pretty popular, like with all the homebrew development happening around the PSP. Do you guys plan to embrace this notion more this time around, or is it too worrisome with Live always connected and the marketplace and so on?
A (TH): It's very important to have a very secure system, and we're making sure we have a secure system. It's a very private system, very secure.
Q (ET): Can you explain how you're locking it down?
A (TH): We're looking at it from a holistic standpoint, everything from servers to CPUs. We learned a lot from Xbox. We've architected the box to be very secure, and we started thinking about that from the ground up, and how to solve that problem holistically.
Check out the whole interview on www.extremetech.com
CIMTEK Inc Responsible for Testing Xbox 360
>> From the press release:
CIMTEK Inc., a Canadian company, has worked with Microsoft to design and implement a test strategy and deliver a global “Performance” solution for the most recent release of the Xbox.
CIMTEK utilized a variety of its Professional Test skills, from design for testability to prototype services, to lower the cost of testing. CIMTEK provided five (5) different testers with centralized control and reporting. These testers have been implemented across the manufacturing process and are helping Microsoft meet its production deadlines of moving the Xbox to market before the Christmas season begins.
CIMTEK's solution also incorporates Waterloo's PEER Group, which served to enhance the .NET capability of the remote reporting from China to the US.
Read the whole pressrelease here.
Xbox360 High-Definition Videos
>> Microsoft released some trailers of Xbox 360 games in the Windows Media High Definition Video (WMV HD) format.
No more shacky footage from E3 videos, these are coming directly from the source, in full HD ... and available directly from Microsoft.
There are videos of: Call of Duty 2, Condemned, Dead Rising, Demonik, EA Compilation E3 2005, Final Fantasy XI, Frame City Killer, Full Auto, Ghost Recon 3, Kameo, Madden NFL 2006, NBA 2K6, NHL 2K6, Quake 4, Saint's Row, TestDrive Unlimted and The Darkness.
You can download these trailer from microsoft.com.
Please note that these files are large and will require a powerful PC to play smoothly.
Thanks to j0k3r for the news/link.
Xodus SP adapter sample
In-depth Xbox 360 Hardware Article
>> The guys over at arstechnica.com posted part1 of a very detailed and technical article about the Xbox 360 hardware:
Codenamed Xenon, the multicore PowerPC CPU that IBM designed for the Xbox 360 boasts a number of unique features that set it apart from any microprocessor seen to date. The present article covers these features in detail, from the processor's triple-core design, to its caches, deep pipeline, lack of an instruction window, and expected performance.
Before we talk in detail about the way that IBM put together the Xenon CPU, we should first discuss Microsoft's vision for the role that Xenon should play in powering the next generation of games. Thus Part I of this series will be devoted to exploring the types of applications for which the Xbox 360 was designed, with a particular emphasis on 3D gaming and the real-time procedural synthesis of in-game geometry.
Go read this very interesting (but also very technical) article on arstechnica.com.
Part II of this series will take a closer look at the actual microarchitecture of the Xenon. I'll let you know when it's online!
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(Wednesday 25 May 2005 22:56 EST) - (Category: (default)) - (Posted by::
Xbox360.Com: Vulnerability Found and Fixed
>> From TeamXbox.com:
On Thursday, May 19th 2005, Finjan Software (an internet security company) provided Microsoft with full technical details, including proof-of-concept, concerning the cross site scripting vulnerability in order to assist Microsoft with the fix. Within 12 hours of Finjan’s report, Microsoft completed the fix on its website, which is no longer exposed to this specific vulnerability.
The cross site scripting vulnerability could be potentially exploited to gather personal and confidential information (email address, home address, credit card number, etc.) from innocent consumers wishing to pre-order Microsoft’s new gaming console. This type of malicious exploit is commonly known as “Phishing”.
Read the whole article on TeamXbox.com.
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(Wednesday 25 May 2005 17:58 EST) - (Category: (default)) - (Posted by::
Kutaragi (Sony): Xbox 360 is Simply Xbox 1.5
>> Impress’ PC Watch has published the 2nd part of its interview with Ken Kutaragi Ken Kutaragi, the father of the PlayStation, where he talked about the Xbox 360. From TeamXbox.com:
"The approach of adopting multiple, all-purpose processors will just raise integer calculation capabilities, that will only benefit general applications," said Kutaragi. "This approach will increase the machine's capabilities as an all-purpose computer, but it won't change the type of entertainment."
Finally, Kutaragi gave the final deathblow to the Xbox 360 specs saying “We welcome the fact that Microsoft invests is this area but by only improving the graphic performance and increasing the output resolution of the current Xbox, [Xbox 360] won't change anything from the current world of videogame consoles.”
Following Kazuo Hirai’s comments, Kutaragi also said that “the Xbox 360 is more of an Xbox 1.5 than a next generation console.”
Read the whole article on TeamXbox.com and Engadget.com.
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(Wednesday 25 May 2005 10:47 EST) - (Category: (default)) - (Posted by::
RTX Telecom chosen as a development partner for Wireless Xbox360 Controller
>> From the webitpr.com:
RTX Telecom, a leading independent supplier of advanced wireless communication solutions, today announced that it has been chosen by Microsoft as a development partner for the wireless interface to the game pad for Xbox 360TM video game system from Microsoft. Microsoft will be the first console manufacturer to ship wireless game pads as standard with its hardware.
The wireless interface solution on Xbox 360 has been defined by Microsoft and optimized by Microsoft and RTX. Under the direction of Microsoft, RTX has also been responsible for some of the hardware development tools and the test equipment supply for the mass production. The wireless interface solution consists of a wireless base module integrated into the Xbox 360 console connecting with up to four wireless game pads that work as user interfaces for playing games. Linking up to four consoles via an Ethernet/LAN connection allows wireless multi-player gaming with 16 players at a time.
Read the whole pressrelease/article on webitpr.com or TeamXbox.com.
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(Wednesday 25 May 2005 10:42 EST) - (Category: (default)) - (Posted by::
Xbox 360 to cut violence
>> From thesun.co.uk:
MICROSOFT's new Xbox console will allow parents to stop their children playing violent games, it has been revealed.
The machine will also have mandatory parental controls for the Xbox Live! function to give adults the chance to oversee their kids' online play.
Read the whole article on thesun.co.uk.
SmartXX News: v1.7 Xbox - OS 3345 update and OPX v2 Modchip
>> From smartxx.com:
* SmartXX OS(info) 3345 update. Team SmartXX upgrades the SmartXX(info) family.
New features in OPX:
-HDD copy & formatting.
New features in V1/V2/OPX:
-Enhanced Xbox 1.6 support, fix crashing hacked bioses.
-Full Xbox 1.7 support.
These new features were also integrated in build 3343 (offical Test Release on franz.smartxx.com), but they are now final.
Download: BIN - ISO
* SmartXX OPX v2:
Team SmartXX enhanced OPX with some modification, specially done for pinheader/1.6 Solderless install.
The Distance part.
This gives the OPX chip maximum stability when installed with pinheader or with solderless installs.
* Finally now: v1.7 Xbox.
Yes, this is no joke - we have it in our labs - the v1.7 Xbox.
SmartXX Team decided, not to show pictures yet.
To make people believe that this is no hoax, we release the SHA1 & Md5 sum of one picture.
The picture for these checksums will be released later.
Some summarys which we release now:
As we are not bastards and perpare teams for upcomming things, we already did some :-) tests:
-Smartxx v1/v2/OPXv1/OPXv2 running (ALL! Video modes).
-Xenium(info) SPice: Fail
-Xecuter(info): not tested, this chip is too complicated for us
-Spider Chip: Fail
...to be continued
Xbox 360 to Use InterVideo's DVD Engine Playback
>> From TeamXbox.com:
InterVideo has announced that Microsoft Corporation has chosen InterVideo to be the provider of its DVD playback software for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft. The partnership with Microsoft and InterVideo marks a significant step in PC/CE convergence, combining both video game consoles and home entertainment center together.
Read the whole article on TeamXbox.com.
Xbox 360: Interface in Action (video) and Anandtech in depth Article
>> Two more interesting articles about the Xbox 360 console:
* AnandTech.com has an interesting overview article. It puts lots of information released over the last few weeks in one nice article with lots of own pictures. It talks not only about the hadrware with:
-The Xbox360 Hardware and Design where Microsoft told AndaTech the Xbox360 will be quieter than the current Xbox and that the backside design isn't final yet (outputs ports).
-The Wireless Controller that will be lighter than the current S-Controller and with a new connector on the backside (Microsoft is being very quiet about it atm).
- The Removable HDD adapter that was still empty in the mockup AndaTech got to see but that will probably be a custom interface to a 2.5" HDD.
But also about the new Xbox 360 Dashboard with:
-The new Xbox Live with the 'invite' pop-ups that can display in the middle of a game - AnandTech has screenshots of this.
-The GamerCard that displays the player's reputation (measured in stars), the GamerScore (counter of all achievements across all on- and offline games), the Zone (defines what sort of player you are) and an avatar (the can also be a picture taken with the Xbox360 camera)
-The Xbox Live Messaging that will not be compatible with 'e-mail' as MS didn't want spam on the Xbox 360. You'll also be able to keep a friends list and see what they are doing or which game they are playing.
-The Xbox Live MarketPlace where you will be able to download or purchase new content (demos, themes, levels, etc.)
-Xbox Live Arcade with 'old school' games.
The article also talks about the different devices you'll be able to connect with the Xbox 360 like digital cameras, mp3player, Ipods and also about Windows MCE PCs where the Xbox360 will act as a Media Center Extender.
* Xbox 360 Interface in Action (Video)
BetaNews.com posted a 2nd article about the Xbox 360 Interface/Dashboard. The first article already had some interesting info and pictures of the Xbox360 dashboard, but now you'll also get videos of Xbox Live and Xbox Live Messaging!
Go check it out on betanews.com
1UP.com Awards Best Video and PC Games at E3 2005
>> From the pressrelease:
1UP.com, Ziff Davis Media Game Group's online community for gaming enthusiasts, announced the 1UP.com Awards for the best video and PC games of the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). The editors of the industry's leading publications Electronic Gaming Monthly, Computer Gaming World, Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine and 1UP.com voted for their top choices in 21 categories.
The 2005 1UP.com Award winners are:
* Game of the Show: The Legend of Zelda - Nintendo
* Best Visuals: Unreal Tournament 2007 - Midway
* Best Game Trailer: Metal Gear Solid 4 - Konami
* Most Original Game: Electroplankton - Nintendo
* Best PS2 Game: Okami - Capcom
* Best Xbox Game: Half-Life 2 - Vivendi Universal Games
* Best Xbox 360 Game: Gears of War - Microsoft
* Best GameCube Game: The Legend of Zelda - Nintendo
* Best PC Game: Spore - Electronic Arts
* Best Nintendo DS Game: Mario Kart DS - Nintendo
* Best Sony PSP Game: SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo - Sony Computer Entertainment of America
* Best GBA (Game Boy Advance) Game: Gunstar Super Heroes - Sega
* Best Action Game: Starcraft: Ghost - Blizzard
* Best Adventure Game: The Legend of Zelda - Nintendo
* Best Fighting Game: Soul Caliber III - Namco
* Best Racing Game: Burnout Revenge - Electronic Arts
* Best RPG (Role-Playing Game): Dragon Quest VIII - Square Enix
* Best FPS (First-Person Shooter): Black - Electronic Arts
* Best Simulation Game: Nintendogs - Nintendo
* Best Sports Game: Madden NFL 2006 - EA Sports
* Best Strategy Game: Star Wars(info): Empire at War - LucasArts
Read the whole pressrelease on prnewswire.com
>> NghtShd released an update of X2ool(info) - a tool to easily create a x2config.ini to configure the features of the new X2 Bios Config Live. What's new/fixed:
* Config settings weren't updated properly on FTP retrieve.
* Busy cursor and feedback during transfer attempt.
Official Site: http://home.alltel.net/nghtshd/x2ool.html
MS Engineer Speaks on Xbox 360 Backward Compatibility
>> From TeamXbox.com:
Now that it's been announced at E3, I can finally reveal that the Xbox 360 feature I work on is... Xbox backwards compatibility!
With those words, Michael Brundage, a software engineer at Microsoft, kicked off this week’s update on his blog, finally revealing his latest assignment at the Xbox division. He first discusses the project and explains why it is so special:
Xbox backwards compatibility is a unique project in so many ways, and I feel very fortunate to get to work on it. I'm sure it will be the hardest technical challenge of my career -- I can't imagine what could possibly top it in terms of sheer technical difficulty.
This is part of what makes working at Microsoft so much fun -- the opportunity to work on magical projects and do the impossible. It's a lot of hard work, of course, but the challenge makes it fun.
Read the whole article on TeamXbox.com and on Michael Brundage's blog
Microsoft planning X05 showcase event
>> From GamesIndustry.biz:
European showcase event series resurrected for the launch of Xbox 360.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Xbox VP Peter Moore has confirmed that Microsoft is planning to run a European showcase event once again this year, where it will present its Xbox and Xbox 360 line-up.
As yet, it's not known where or when X05 will be held, or whether an equivalent event will run in other territories.
Read the whole article on GamesIndustry.biz
>> Team Xbox-Linux released a new version of Xebian(info) - the debian linux distro for Xbox. What's new/fixed (since v1.1.2):
* Latest Sarge updates
* Use unionfs in initrd
* Latest Sarge updates
* Update PC Kernel -> 188.8.131.52
* Updated XBOX kernel -> 2.4.30
Official Site: http://www.xbox-linux.org
Tecmo drops lawsuit against NinjaHacker.net
>> Back in January this year, Tecmo sued the NinjaHacker.net community site because they distributed game modifications (like change the appearance of characters) for Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive 3 and Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball.
Wired.com now informs a confidential settlement has been reached betweem the 2 parties:
Leaving for another day the question of whether consumers have the right to modify video-game software they've legally purchased, a federal judge last week dismissed a lawsuit by California game maker Tecmo against the proprietors and users of a game-hacking website, after the company quietly settled with the two main defendants.
Federal Judge Charles Kocoras dismissed the case last Thursday with leave to reinstate it if the settlement is not finalized within 30 days. Glynn confirmed in a telephone interview this week that he'd reached a settlement with Tecmo, but neither he nor his lawyer would elaborate on the details. "I can tell you that my client would not have been inclined to reach any agreement that would have required him to pay money to Tecmo," said attorney Charles Mudd.
The lawsuit also targeted up to 100 anonymous users of the website, whose identities Tecmo vowed to unmask earlier this year. Those users were the focus of the settlement talks, said Jason Schultz, an attorney with the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, which had been tracking the case. According to Schultz, Tecmo insisted that Greiling and Glynn hand over NinjaHacker's user database to the company as part of any deal. "Tecmo wanted to get the personal identifying information of people who were uploading and downloading skins," said Schultz. "I don't know if that was in the final settlement."
Read the whole article on Wired.com.
Xbox-Scene Discussion Thread: forums.xbox-scene.com
dvd2xbox W.I.P. News
>> WiSo is working on a new version of dvd2xbox(info), here's what you can expect in the next version (0.6.7?). From dvd2xbox.xbox-scene.com:
Short WIP note:
* fixed a bug in the fatx renaming function which could crash dvd2xbox with certain long file names
* speed up directory browsing for directories in the file browser (especially for ISO9660 CDs)
* buildin ftp server checks now for fatx conform filenames and renames it if needed
* reduce memory consumption by decreasing the background image size to a power of 2 (512x256)
* completly rebuild the settings system. added some more settings for the LCDs.
I'll try to finalize this version in a few weeks when back from all my business trips.