The HD Era…Sounds Good!

Some exciting (yet still somewhat vague) details released today during the keynote at the Game Developers Conference about the next Xbox. (Source: Major Nelsons Weblog) Great to see SOMETHING released officially on it anyhow.

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SAN FRANCISCO — March 9, 2005 — Today at the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC), Microsoft Corp. announced the first details of its next-generation Xbox® video game system platform, highlighting how hardware, software and services are being fused to power enhanced game and entertainment experiences.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Chief XNA™ Architect J Allard further outlined the company’s vision for the future of entertainment, citing the emergence of an “HD Era” in video games that is fueled by consumer demand for experiences that are always connected, always personalized and always in high-definition …

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During his keynote J discusses the change from board games to video games and the impact Atari had on the entertainment industry. So true! I remember those days well!

Some other topics that were touched on that peaked my interest:

The HD Era:

Lots of stuff here about expanding the position of games and the experience level provided by them. Overall this concept excites me. But where are all the games for EVERYONE in the family. Here we are 20 years post-Atari and while significant steps have been made to widen the demographics associated with video games – the availability of games and content for the whole family is still lacking. As the Xbox moves to become a more significant member of the household living room – it needs to feature content that appeals to everyone.

I’ve said this before and I will continue to say it – I see HUGE potential for kids learning games for example. My three year old nephew LOVES the Xbox. He loves to come to our house and sort through all my games. Unfortunately most of my games are not suitable for him (too violent or complex). It’s too bad really since he can play up a storm on some of the games available for him on the pc. Games that focus on learning, matching, and colours. Nothing too complex but fun and rewarding for him. Imagine a game series that was released for kids that offered colourful story books, easy to control and educational games and short videos that features songs and dancing and all the other things that drive us adults crazy. All things that parents spend a bazillion dollars a year on for their kids. Why? Because kids love them and they learn from them.

Movies vs Games…Why Choose!

There was a brief segment on the integration of a movie and a game so that each one enhances the experience of another. GOOD call! I have been waiting for this. First we had movies that spun out games…then we had games that turned into movies. The similarities between these two mediums are too enormous to ignore. Glad to see movement in this area. Fact is everyone knows that a typical movie offers 2 hours of entertainment – how many hours can you get our of a game? Why choose – let’s do both!

Making Development Easier

Last week I posted about how excited I was over the Visual Studio Team System – it’s great to see that they plan on extending that system and making a version available for XNA and game development. Listening to some of J’s comments of headaches associated with game development and hitting milestones – clearly not much different than the software development world is it? If we can benefit from these tools in our environments, game devs definitely can as well.

As well it was nice to hear J talk about improving the game development experience by standardizing certain items such as user alerts and making them available to developers across all games. He’s right – no developer wants to spend their time on those pieces. They want to be working on the cool and challenging bits. The more components and controls that can be made available to standardize the user experience for the game and free up developer time – the sooner we will start seeing even cooler features in our games.

Microsoft know what they are doing when they build a development platform. It’s good to see the Windows and Xbox worlds starting to align. It should be an exciting few years as this develops even more.

Personalization

It’s all about user expression and personalization. How many times have I groaned because the person I was playing against wanted to spend 10 minutes suiting out their character? Why do people love funkin out their MSN profiles, names, contact cards and spaces? Because they love to put their own personal touch on the things they use. Whether its a notebook, locker, car, or room in a house – we love to put our stamp on the things we own. Gaming and entertainment are totally about user experience so they more features and tricks that can be thrown in to personalize that experience – the better. As well, the more control a gamer has over their experience – the less restrictive the demographic appeal becomes.

Moving on…

So about the name…Xbox Next, Xbox 360, Xenon – who cares! Show me the features – show me the content and while you are at it, some details on hardware specs would be nice too. Heck why not just take the Windows approach and call it Xbox 200X – that certainly outranks Playstation 3 and makes the naming process a lot easier in the future. My only comment is not get rid of “Xbox” – it would be a waste to dispose of the equity and awareness associated with that brand.

2 comments on “The HD Era…Sounds Good!

  1. Philip Wheat says:

    It looks like something went awry on the keynote link – I get the response “Unable to read database or username” from that link. :-)

  2. Opps guess I should have checked my links :) All fixed now – thanks Philip!

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