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Microsoft

Xbox Live Goes Online 516

abhikhurana writes " Internetnews is reporting that Microsoft has launched Xbox Live broadband gaming service. To access Microsoft's service, Xbox gamers have to buy a $49.99 starter kit, which includes 12 month's worth of access to the Xbox Live service and a headset kit for voice communications. Microsoft said that about 16 games with online play capabilities will be available by the end of the year. So has anyone already tried it? If so, what do you think about it?"
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Xbox Live Goes Online

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  • Microsoft appears to have been keeping the Xbox afloat for some time now despite a less than stellar performance [slashdot.org]. Does anyone else think that Xbox Live is what they're betting the farm on?
    • by Tull ( 181002 ) <slashdot&ians-net,co,uk> on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:45AM (#4690314) Homepage
      I think so. The Xboxer's I know have really been jumping up and down at this and from my own experience with a friends machine I can tell you it's very addictive: much more so than playing alone.

      One thing that I have considered is how good an internet telephony app this is - i've already heard of friends who would normally make long distance calls using the lobby of one of the games to chat in.

      I wonder whether Microsoft will develop a specific telephony app using the Live system as a backend... AFAICT the demand is there and this would be a really killer app.
      • Yes and No (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bstadil ( 7110 )
        this would be a really killer app

        Absolutely this would be a real useful feature and could quickly gain strength. The problem for MS is that PS2 is much better positioned to take advantage of this if/ when it takes off.

        It's the Network effect [wikipedia.org] at play.

        There are 30mu+ PS2's out there vs for 3.5Mu+- Xbox. Sony have sold more than 1Mu adapters for the PS2 in the last few month, and if they wanted they could team up with a company like IDT and be offering a "Longdistance telephony game" in a few months.

    • by Gary Franczyk ( 7387 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @01:03PM (#4690950)
      You could say the same thing about Microsoft's Internet Explorer. For some time, it was known as having less than stellar performance, and for being a copy-cat of Netscape Navigator, with a very similar UI and features.

      Since then, it has improved somewhat with its stability and performance, but since Netscape has gone to the wayside, almost no features have been introduced. In fact, most of the changes between version 3 and version 6 have been internal, such as additional automation calls and additional events for programmers to use.
    • If you had a gaming platform, wouldn't you be expecting online play to take off like mad? A lot of us have had the pleasure to play PC games online, but a part of the console market never has.

      Think of it this way, it's usually more fun to play with/against a human than the game AI (for now, at least). Online games == there's always a friend around to play with.
    • This [penny-arcade.com] pretty much sums up what's wrong with online play.

      Solve it, and yes, you've got a Killer App.
    • The real killer app is called "Ever Crack", I mean "Ever Quest", too bad it's owned by Sony :)

      Seriously, if EverQuest could be ported to XBOX or PS2, people would flock in droves since the game might actually have a chance of being stable, fast, and hacker resistant.

      This would be the killer app... It might even revive the tech economy.
  • I dunno... (Score:5, Funny)

    by VTg33k ( 605268 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:13AM (#4690214)
    I mean, being able to play Xbox games online is really neat... but the little Fritz chip they solder into the back of your head really itches...
  • by tezzery ( 549213 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:13AM (#4690215)
    let's just hope they don't pull an advertising stunt like the last on in NY.. we all know what happened with that one :)
  • Good Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by acehole ( 174372 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:13AM (#4690216) Homepage
    As with all good ideas involving technology they hardly reach outside of the US, Japan or europe.

    In Australia the X-Box is doing okay, still lagging behind the PS2 though. Such a service may never reach our shores, it's a shame because there would be a market here for it.

    I guess it would depend if the market was big enough for Microsoft.

  • It is great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gdeciantis ( 570658 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:13AM (#4690217)
    I have been playing since the beta and I have found that the service is really good and fun. Moto Gp is a fun game on Live, but MechAssault is a whole different world of fun. XBL runs pretty nicely because of all the broadband users. A much better experience that some online gaming on the PC.
  • not bad... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dotgod ( 567913 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:15AM (#4690220)
    $49.99 fee -$5.00 estimated headset value =$44.99 or ~$3.75/month
    • Re:not bad... (Score:3, Interesting)

      $49.99 which includes one year or service. How much after the year is up?? Sounds like ms trying to "trick" people again, like they did with the $300 rebate at retail stores if you sign up for 3 years of MSN... I guess here, instead of locking you into a contract, they get you hooked on the gaming and assume you'll pay full price after the first year... Anyone have any idea how much it will cost after the first year?
    • $44.99 or ~$3.75/month

      The median American family with Internet access has dial-up at $20/mo. Xbox Live requires cable or DSL at $40/mo. To that $4/mo month we must add the estimated $20/mo for an upgrade from dial-up to (e.g.) MSN broadband. So if the median American family with Internet access buys Xbox Live for the kids, it'll cost $24/mo or $288/year.

      I don't know about you, but the fact that Xbox Live doesn't work with dial-up prevents me from considering buying it.

      • by roachmotel3 ( 543872 ) <paul@isa r o a c h . c om> on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:41AM (#4690301)
        Frankly, I'm somewhat glad that MS has forced broadband in this product. There's nothing worse than paying the $40 a month for broadband, mostly for gaming, just to get on some awesome CS server where within minutes a bunch of losers with dialup come on and ruin the game for everyone.

        By at least setting the bar to broadband they have excluded some gamers, but they will have improved performance for everyone left.
  • Dumping the price... (Score:3, Informative)

    by z80 ( 103328 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:16AM (#4690226) Homepage Journal
    .. here in Sweden, Microsoft is more or less giving these machines away at about 2000SEK (about 180-190 USD) with two games, DVD remote control and a DVD movie. As I understand it, they aren't making any money of the actual Xbox unit but instead they are selling the games quite expensive.

    I bought one and am a happy user so far. I would prefer a PS2 but they where too expensive.
  • by BRock97 ( 17460 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:18AM (#4690235) Homepage
    MechAssault
    Unreal Championship
    NFL 2K3
    NBA 2K3
    NFL Fever 2003
    Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon
    Whacked!

    To be quite honest, nothing earth shattering here. I guess I was hoping for something that would set their service on fire; but, like the rest of the games in their library, there isn't any one game that is fantastic except maybe MechAssault [gamespot.com] which Gamespot rated a 9.0. Personally, I was really hoping for a coop-able network Halo.

    As an aside, it is important to note that companies aren't required to go with Xbox Live as Electronic Arts chose to support their own servers and ditch Microsoft.

    • To be quite honest, nothing earth shattering here.

      You're right, and that's going to be an even bigger problem in Europe & Japan for them. Why?
      Let's have a look at the games:

      MechAssault
      Unreal Championship


      Yeah, they'll do allright.

      NFL 2K3
      NBA 2K3
      NFL Fever 2003


      Eh? wha? No chance of selling anywhere outside the US.

      Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon
      Whacked!


      GR will do nice , as most players will have played cs....Whacked, I have no idea about actually.
      • GR will do nice , as most players will have played cs....Whacked, I have no idea about actually.

        Whacked! [gamespot.com] is supposed to be a multiplayer gameshow that allows the online player to pick a persona (including a woman who runs around naked-but-censored the entire show) and then compete in various contests. If you are at all into Nintendo games, think Mario Party, but for adults. It scored poorly, though, with only a 5.6 from Gamespot (who, I believe, is a truly impartial reviewer).
        • Granted, Whacked tries to be a party game, but there is only one primary objective in the game-- Beat the other player down to accomplish different goals. Sorry, but that's closer to a FPS (third person shooter?) than andy mario party game I've ever played... And that's it's ultimate failing... Like it tries to be a FPS and a party game, but in doing so desends in mediorcity. Not saying it can't be fun, but it's not worth anywhere near $50.
        • Let me tell you, the naked chick is awesome, in a good way too. However she moves, it's always in an outrageous way, she's flipping through the air, or her censor bars are jiggling (oo la la!), or something crazy.
      • Whacked, I have no idea about actually.
        This sounds like the XBox equivalent of cyber sex to me.
    • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon

      Awesome! Now I can buy an Xbox, then buy Ghost Recon, then pay monthly for Microsofts online service which is the only place I can play it with other people!

      Oh wait, I forgot. I already paid ONCE for this game which I can use on my computer with much faster hardware to play online with other people for FREE as much as I want.
    • MechAssault rocks and so does Unreal Championship and NHL 2K3 to.

      Whacked! is a crappy game though.

      EA Servers? Play NHL 2003 online or any other of there sports titles and then please come back to praise there servers :) $5.99/month for half-assed servers, pffff.
  • halo ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stackdump ( 553408 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:18AM (#4690236)
    Ok why in the world isn't halo one of the games included in the service, or is it? If you ask me the xbox website is rather cryptic: "look for these new games" ---feel free to correct me, im just talking here.
    • Re:halo ? (Score:4, Informative)

      by jongus ( 214492 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:28AM (#4690265)
      According to this article [washingtonpost.com], they are planning a multi-player sequel to Halo that will run on Live.

      They better get to it, since they seem to be lacking a strong title to sell the service.

    • It's that simple. Even if MS produced some kind of patch that was stored on the local X-Box hard drive, the vast majority of users would still be unable to play halo online because they wouldn't be able to meet the bandwidth requirements. Each player generates something like 100K/s of traffic keeping track of all manner of detail. Even with the gateway that was developed outside of MS, gameplay is terrible.

      So with three or more players in a single game of halo, most cable modems or DSL lines would choke and die.
  • Headset play? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:19AM (#4690237) Homepage Journal
    I've been wondering why there havn't been more options to use voice in online computer games... or has that changed in the past year or so?

    In any event, I think the option of voice communication will bring a whole new dimension to online gaming. It'll be intresting to see how it all plays out.

    It would also be pretty cool to see games like starcraft use voice recognition rather then complex keyboard commands do things.
    • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @11:00AM (#4690356) Homepage
      It would also be pretty cool to see games like starcraft use voice recognition rather then complex keyboard commands do things.

      Maybe, if it's reliable and handles voices under stress. And if Microsoft doesn't give Clippy the job: "I see that you're trying to kill the Zerg..."

    • Absolutely, many online computer games need to have voice comm enabled, it'll rock. I find myself playing Unreal Championship instead of UT2003, why? Because with voice comm its much more fun even though the controls aren't as perfect as the keyb/mouse combo.
    • In any event, I think the option of voice communication will bring a whole new dimension to online gaming. It'll be intresting to see how it all plays out.

      It might interfere with more important things ... While you are screaming, "I've got a MIG at zero, a MIG at zero!" Aviator will type, "Shut up and die," and MIG will silently frag you before you can lift your right arm. With cable modem operators continuing to crimp their lines down to DSL and below, do you really want to waste your bandwith like that?

      • The choice will be:
      • Listen to a bunch of pussies.
      • Frag a bunch of pussies.
      • Change federal law to bring real competition back to high speed ISPs

      It's hard to tell what X-Box players will do, but it's not going to be the third option.

    • This dimension has been around for quite a while. Most FPS and RTS games include some form of voice communication these days.

      I've found that if you have a good crew of players on a server it can really add to the community feel of the game. On the other hand, it makes it really easy for one person to be an annoying pain. Nothing more fun annoying than logging on for a little saturday night mayhem to realize that there's a couple stone/drunk people on the server making a racket.

      The one thing I've been dissapointed with when it comes to voice chat systems is that they never seem to get used to their potential. Especially in the more realistic FPS games (counterstrike, tom clancy games, etc), it could be really cool to be doing coordinated tactics with the voice communications. Unfortunately it seems that only a few people really take it to that level.

      What will be interesting to see with Xbox live though is how the groups are managed on their servers. With a PC game, the host is usually just another PC owner, or some group run server. Good server operators will keep cheaters and other irritants off the server. I'm curious to see how this will play out with XBox live since, AFAIK, Microsoft is doing all the hosting.
  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:21AM (#4690246) Homepage Journal
    Or do you need to get, say, a cable modem or whatever. The most annoying thing about getting consoles online is that you always needed to use a spesific ISP or whatever, even though I've always had an always on ethernet connection to the 'net (well, since I've been in the doorms, anyway)
    • It depends on how your isp is set up. I work at a university help desk, and we have had several people calling us trying to get their xboxs online. It does not work at my school becouse you have to regester any device on the network to be able to get off campus by going to a web page with that device and giving it some info. With xbox live, or the beta at least, you can only go to the MS site to regester for xbox live. So if you can browse the internet normally with your xbox you can use any isp it would seem, but if you have to use it to regester itself, you are SOL. The only other problem I could see is ISPs blocking the ports it uses. But otherwise all it needs is an internet connection it can use.
      • It wouldn't supprise me if they had thought of this (mainly since so many DSL providers use the same practice: register your MAC address to use the internet)

        They almost have to be targeting people with a Lynksys router (or linux box with IPmasq), since I know that I wouldn't want to re-cable everything depending on if I was gaming, or surfing...
      • Hmm... Couldn't you register with another device (spoofing the MAC) and go ahead and play?

        That could be a nice little campus business for for the people with the technical skills to do it.

    • It works fine here in the UK on a Univerity dorm connection. If you are able to get out of your Uni network on port 3074 you should be okay. I tested it for a friend before the service went live using a little perl script listening on that port running on an off-campus machine.
  • Too bad... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Psx29 ( 538840 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:26AM (#4690259)
    If you have a modchip you are banned permanently [cdfreaks.com] and it seems so called "legitimate" users are being banned as well in the midst of microsoft's "anti-cheating" efforts.
    • It's not a ban. (Score:5, Informative)

      by NetJunkie ( 56134 ) <[jason.nash] [at] [gmail.com]> on Sunday November 17, 2002 @11:49AM (#4690558)
      It's a bug. Some devices are getting a bad response from the Kerberos authentication server. I also thought at the beginning it was a ban (I have a mod'd XBox), but it doesn't appear to be. A lot of people with "legit" boxes are getting the same response while some people with modified XBoxes are working fine.

      Note, they do seem to be bloking mod chips, not BANNING them. If you go on with a mod chip you can't connect to Live. If you disable it you can get on fine. This is a seperate issue than the connectivity issue many beta users are now having, including me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:29AM (#4690269)
    I picked up my XBox live kit Thursday, and although I haven't been playing it constantly since then, I really enjoyed the experience. The only live capable game I have at the moment is Mech Assault, which is a great game, but I was hoping for a couple more play modes, including Co-Op.

    I think the idea behind the service is a great one. MS specifically defined the network performance to which the games must conform to make sure that lag was minimized (haven't had a single bit of lag yet) and that the voice worked without interfering with the game. The voice feature itself works as you'd expect. Voices are very clear, and the sounds of the other players only comes through on your headset, so the sounds for the game itself are not affected.

    One feature I did find interesting was the ability to have more than one user on the local XBox, and still use the Live. Using this, a friend can play with you (split-screen or what have you) against the other Live players.

    All in all, I thought the service was extremely well done. I hope this helps Microsoft come a little closer to breaking even with XBox. Not that they need money, but I enjoy my XBox, and I don't want to see it disappear.
    • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @01:21PM (#4691060) Homepage
      In reading your comment, something occurred to me.


      The only live capable game I have at the moment is Mech Assault, which is a great game, but I was hoping for a couple more play modes, including Co-Op.


      One of the most popular FPS shooters is still Half Life because of the Counterstrike mod. Gamers took a basic game and changed it completely to become the kind of game that they wanted. With an XBox, this isn't going to happen because Microsoft has to keep tight control over the game licensing. If they don't they can't make back all the money they lose on selling the boxes. Furthermore, to even begin writing games you have to buy their SDK which is very expensive for an amateur developer.

      This was one of the promises of the Indrema game console that was making me really look forward to its release which will now never happen.
  • Mech Assault (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Phredd ( 15463 )
    All I have to say is Mech Assault on Xbox Live KICKS FRIGGIN' ASS!!!

    Come talk about Xbox Live at: XBox Live Forum [xboxliveforum.com]

    Phredd's Gammer Tag on Xbox Live: ThunderPants

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:36AM (#4690288)
    I mean... is it because it's Microsoft? Take a minute with me and let's imagine something.

    Imagine if a company called Penguin Soft created a console that is very similar to what Xbox is. The console is entirely based on Linux. Exact same specs like the Xbox but run Linux instead. Would you still hate it? I don't think so... you would be praising it as the best invention ever! A huge Linux success!

    Xbox is very cool... regardless of the fact that Microsoft made it. And I KNOW if it was a linux based console, you'd all love it in an instant.

    Very sad... if only people were fair and mature...
    • Maybe this is a flame, and maybe it isn't, but I will bite and post a reply.

      Your statement about the Xbox being cool is partially right. The Xbox hardware is cool, and this is what upsets me the most. Microsoft has put out an extremely powerful console and the potential that it has is mind blowing. But, and this is a huge but, their games mostly blow!

      This is not meant as a flame either, but their games truly stink. Of course, I should have prefaced this with the fact I don't like sports games, but even those are available on all systems and not a one is an Xbox exclusive. Since Halo was release, I challenge you to show me a game that you would consider a must own game. PS2 has them in spades (GTA: Vice City, Final Fantasy, Jak and Daxter, Virtua Fighter 4, etc) and even Gamecube has a few (Super Mario Sunshine, Metroid, the Resident Evil series, etc).

      The main issue here is that I believe Microsoft sees the Xbox as a foot-in-the-door system to get them noticed. Their primary concern would be to build up momentum for their uber system in the Xbox 2 which will have all the TIVO stuff and central digital hub junk along with the game system. In that regard, they are pouring money into the advertising and the online aspect never considering the content. Hopefully, that will change since I have great hopes for the hardware in that box!
    • Well, I for one am a bit scared of the possibility of Microsoft dominating yet another market which currently has healthy competition and quite a bit of innovation in it.

      History has shown time and time again that when Microsoft go for a market, they don't tend to be happy with just being a competitor, they try their hardest to own it, then to kill the competition, then if somehow some competition gets through to stop you, the customer, from using it.

      I'm not a big console user, but I kind of hope that Microsoft aren't too successful, because if they stranged another market, especially one as vibrant as the console market, it'd be a reall shame.

    • I mean... is it because it's Microsoft? Take a minute with me and let's imagine something.

      Yes, it is because it is Microsoft. I don't see what's so complex about putting money into companies that one admires, and I have no admiration for Microsoft.

      I buy boxed Linux distros when I can, I purchase Linux journal, I promote operating systems other than Windows to my family and friends, I never ever use Office anymore, and thank god Mozilla is getting as good as it is otherwise I might have to still use Explorer.

      I don't just "not" buy some of their things, I go out of my way to stay away from all of their products, and I think that has landed me more enjoyable jobs and kept technology fun for me.
  • But every time I played it, I heard this eerie almost inperceptible voice...

    "Buy Microsoft -- .Net is Good -- Linux is Bad"

    The voice just repeats itself over and over! Very strange huh? I think it was Bill himself.

    -20-
  • by Sergeant Beavis ( 558225 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:37AM (#4690292) Homepage
    I got an XBox back in December as a gift. I was very happy with games like Halo and Max Payne but little else for XBox was very good. Friday however, I bought XBox live with Ghost Recon and Mech Assault. I am happy now that I didn't sell my XBox like I was tempted to last summer. Ghost Recon was an outstanding game to begin with on PC but now that I have a video card that can do it justice it look INCREDIBLE. I liked the logical layout of controls too. Mech Assault was more of the same. The controls are over simplified compaired to PC Mech games but that doesn't detract from the game. In fact I found that it made it even better. Mech Assault is by far the best of all the XBox Live games. The only negative things I can say about XBox Live is the setup. I find it stupid that they only support a few different gateway routers. Mine is not supported. I was lucky that the XBox website had a good workaround for my particular router (Netgear RT314). It's also stupid that XBox live doesn't support Visa or MasterCard DEBIT cards. I mean, WTF, it's a goddamn credit/debit card and you can't support it. That was very short sighted. Lastly, I didn't see a function to boot players from a game. That is needed IMO because in Ghost Recon, when beginning an XBox Live mission, everyone has to show themselves as READY before the game can begin. One person not showing as ready will keep the game from starting. So if he's AFK or just being a dick, we are all SOL. They need to fix that.
    • The Xbox Live service supports auto-configuration of Universal PnP routers. You can manually configure other routers, though.
    • It's also stupid that XBox live doesn't support Visa or MasterCard DEBIT cards.

      My debit card worked just fine. It's a Visa debit card.

      Lastly, I didn't see a function to boot players from a game.

      While I feel the same as you do on this point, I just want to note for all the people that have not used XBox Live that this is the fault of the actual game and not of the XBox. Some games do support kicking people out and others don't.
    • Can you reply with your credit card numbers please so I can test them from my router ? Maybe it will work then.

  • It was really good during the beta phase, playing Moto GP online = great. Unfortunately, when it launched, it started having some problems. Some of the lag was pretty tough.

    Still, my major gripe with XBox Live is that there is no option to use a keyboard for the conversations, you're stuck with the headset.
  • by GweeDo ( 127172 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:43AM (#4690308) Homepage
    The real issue with this service is that they haven't set the yearly rate yet. Next year this service could be 20 dollars a month if MS so desired...we don't know. The other sad point is that they aren't stopping 3rd parties from charging over and above the normal Live fee for their games. Example: Sega has announced they will charge for PSO on Live...so this could get really pricy!
  • by StarTux ( 230379 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:44AM (#4690311) Journal
    Been beta testing EverQuest Online Adventures, its been fun thus far. Don't have an Xbox, I'd be interested in its online setup. Do you have to use MSN? Doubt that will happen, at least for the time being...

    For comparison though, it was $39.99 for the PS2's Network adapter and a card for a free game to play on-line. Included is the usual demo's, but the big thing is no need to pay any yearly fee's, although that will probably come with some games (or some form of monthly access...).

    With the Xbox, will this happen? Or is that a one time yearly fee with content from various games free online? Maybe you will have to pay individual companies a monthly fee seperately from MSFT's tax? Will it only work with Xbox live? If you decide you want to head out alone will you be able to? they have sunk so much money into the Xbox and intend to do more, but they will at one time or another actually want to make as big a profit as possible.

    StarTux
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:55AM (#4690341)
    Amazing how many people posted and god modded up without even replying to the post at all, but just M$ bashing.

    Well, after playing MechAssault for about 10 hours, I can say it ROCKS. I've been a gamer a LONG time (1984 or so), and I've played online since qtest, but I have to say MechAssault is over the top fun. The graphics toast my GeForce 4 Ti 4200, the talking to the other players feature is amazing (finally some REAL socializing in a game), and I have yet to see any lag whatsoever.

    The only minor problem is joining games, it takes a few tries to get in (if your doing it manually), but that's fine as it's assuring you actually have the right connection speeds to the server in question.

    There's also the great feature where you scores are permanately on the scoreboard (kills/deaths in each gametype) so you can compare with friends.

    Two thumbs up for the Xbox Live! team!!!
  • xbox already live (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cylix ( 55374 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @10:56AM (#4690345) Homepage Journal
    I've been playing online with the xbox for a while now.

    My only complaint are games have not been optimized for online play... This will change with the advant of Xbox live, I just hope someone gets a reverse engineered public service going soon. I wouldn't doubt MS has added some provisions to delay this kind of activity.

    In any event, its just been neat to play with, but I've seen nothing stellar on Xbox that really would keep me coming back to the system. (Note, I do not own one, simply play around with a friends).
  • The future (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Veebs ( 319127 )
    I for one think Xbox live is great. MotoGP and Whacked are both shit games to be fair, but XBL makes them great. You'll flame me I know, but it is just like MS says, the voice makes all the difference. Still no lag, no troubles, no glitches. Just pure gaming. Now We just need to wait till the good games are released this friday. Give it a chance, my flat mate has been converted to the dark side.
  • Smooth (Score:3, Informative)

    by kirn_malinus ( 159763 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @11:06AM (#4690367) Homepage
    My friend got a chance to play on it, and he said it's pretty nice. He's about the most hard core gamer I know, so I'll take his word for it.
  • Can't get xbox live. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by r_arr ( 613036 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @11:09AM (#4690381)
    Here in NYC I went to 4 different stores to see if they had xbox live. Each store I went to said they were sold it. Looks like MS is doing something correct with xbox live.
  • I was at Best Buy on Friday and the Microsoft guys were there in full force with a playable kiosk and trying to sign up people. Nobody was interested and the guys were getting desperate, offering premiums and free goodies to anyone who would just take a test drive.

    I don't know how the reaction was everywhere else, but here at least it doesn't seem to be a smash hit.

    As for me, I preordered Metroid Prime.

  • by los furtive ( 232491 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ehtomaLsirhC)> on Sunday November 17, 2002 @11:25AM (#4690447) Homepage
    They offer the 12 month deal at the local store for $80 Canadian Pesos, but what they don't tell you, is that even though you've paid for a whole year, you still need to give a credit card number before you can use it. How many 14 year-olds have a credit card? How many parents trust giving their credit card to their children? Heck, how many people are still paranoid about giving their credit card over the net? I can understand after 12 months asking for a card, but why do they need to do it up front when the person has already payed for the service?
    • I can understand after 12 months asking for a card, but why do they need to do it up front when the person has already payed for the service?

      Um, identity verification so they can properly ban you should you start causing trouble?

      Feel free to also throw around whatever privacy/conspiracy issues you may have... but really I imagine it's about being able to keep track of who their users are in some way. God knows they have enough experience with useless identity verification from Hotmail.

    • Same ol' same ol' (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mulletproof ( 513805 )
      And you should also know that Microsoft isn't marketing towards kids. The Xbox was, from the day of it's inception, targeted at more mature gamers who have cash to spend. Most mature gamers HAVE a credit card. Here's a clue for you:
      Goto a bank. Open an account up. Have them issue you a debit card. Use card for XBox Live. If you're underage, have your freakin parents do it for you, but if you can't accomplish these very simple steps without bitching and moaning, maybe you shouldn't be online.

      And why should they set up for a mail in payment system? I know for a fact from my time at Amazon.com that accounts receivable is a pain in the a55. Checks bounce. Information on Money orders can easily be forged. My favorite was "John Smith" ordering 15 books on how to cultivate and grow weed. People are actually stupid enough to send cash through the mail. Not just cash, foreign currency. Are you seriously going to want to wait for you check, MO to arrive and clear before you play online? Did you bitch because Everquest does the same d*mn thing, as does every MMORPG? You expect them to take mail-in payments as well?
      • Actually, most MMORPG's are now taking payment via 'gamecards' that you can buy at the software stores. So if you need an Everquest fix but your Credit Card got chopped up by Mr Collection Agency, you can still buy your time with good old cash. I think MS is making a big mistake by not making this an option, because there ARE some folks that can afford their system that dont have a credit card.
    • why do they need to do it up front when the person has already payed for the service?

      So that they can silently start billing you when the year is up. They don't want to to have to make an effort to continue and pay them, they *DO* want you to have to make an effort to cancel in order to not pay them. It's pretty cheezy, but standard practice in a number of markets.

      -
    • The service has parental lockout, so you can give your credit card and not worry about your kids racking up huge bills for premium content.
  • by Tom ( 822 )
    So, are there any games that are worth playing online on the billybox? Halo is certainly responsible for half the billybox sales so far (i.e. that half of the Halo fans they didn't piss off when they scraped the PC, Mac and Linux versions), but what title will pull the live system?

    Remember: Consoles are nothing without the games. Contrary to general purpose computers, there isn't really anything else you could use it for, so if the box has no games, it has no sales.

    So far, I haven't seen anything that is not either available on other platforms, or well below average. Where's the exclusive killer title?
  • by truffle ( 37924 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @11:50AM (#4690564) Homepage
    The PS2 service is free, and games companies provide and manage their own servers.

    The XBox service is (probably ) $10/month after your free year runs out. Microsoft runs and maintains all the servers.

    All XBox titles need to confirm to Microsoft's standards, including support for Instant Message, and voice headset. This increases the amount of development effort required to launch an XBox Live game versus a PS2 online game.

    The PS2 supports a USB keyboard for online chat. The XBox does not support a keyboard, counting on their required headset support to be enough.

    Which is the better service? I am putting my money on Microsoft as providing an overall better service.

    With the PS2 there are no guarantees of what your experience will be from game to game. Different games will have different interfaces and capabilities. They'll have different hosting infrustructures, with different levels of server reliability.

    With the XBox you will get consistency. You'll get a gaming ID that your online friends can use to find you regardless of what game you're playing. You'll get about the same level of reliability accross servers and similar ping times. Having access to online features that work consistently accross all games (instant message, voice headset) will help people feel a sense of consistency that will let them focus on the game and not on the interface.

    Keep in mind as geeks we aren't as sensitive to interface consistency as muggles..er non geeks. Most non geeks don't like figuring out how to do something with each new title.

    I'm not convinced that XBox is going to become the market leader, in fact if Sony has brains they will crush the XBox with the PS3 and include all the best features of XBox Live in the PS3's network play. However, unless Sony makes changes to how they run things, for now the XBox live service looks like a better service (and the better service doesn't always win).
  • When Live works it's great. I'm VERY happy with it. The voice communication works very well and some of the games are lots of fun.

    But, there seems to be an issue at launch. Most people thought they banned mod chip users, but that doesn't seem to be the case. This problem is affecting many mod users and some legit users. It appears to be a problem if you were a beta user, like me. Some XBoxes are not getting authenticated by the Kerberos server when you try and connect to Live.

    Some people with mod chips that weren't beta testers are working fine, IF they disable the mod. With the mod enabled they can't connect, but if they disable it they can get on fine. The people with the problem can't connect at all, however. So far MS hasn't admitted the problem but from some testing it seems obvious.
  • <sarcasm> Wow, it only took three days for this story to reach the frontpage and Live was launched the 15th? </sarcasm>
    Anyway, it has been an overall good experience so far and definitley has the potential to do to console gaming what broadband did to PC gaming. Games are smooth and it's they're fairly easy to connect to.

    That said, they need to work on their Live to Game interface a bit more. Right now, the game developer can do anything that want with it and that's a bad thing, because games like Mech Assault don't get it right. Administration features (such as finding friends, kicking players) are sporatic at best, leaving one to play "Hunt the option" from game to came. Conformity is their friend here, not vise-versa.

    On the whole though, it's fun. If they can nail down the few bugs, it should make for an excellent gaming experience (and they will, you should see their forums light up with complaints ;). It's already done a decent job when the developers get things right (MotoGp an excellent example) and I see no reason why it simply won't get better.
    • Wow, it only took three days for this story to reach the frontpage and Live was launched the 15th?

      For the record, the title of this article states why it's posted today (the 17th) and not the 15th. This is supposed to be a board of people stating their initial reviews after the first weekend. There have been so many stories about XB Live that few didn't know it'd be launched the 15th.

  • I got Mech Assault and played the early part of the weekend: it's a good game, but it really just made me want to play the superior MechWarrior4 or 3 version.

    MechAssault seems less like giant robots running around than I would have hoped for: it plays too fast, and there really isn't a strategic method of playing (well, except "shoot everything that moves").

    Had a fun game where a 11 year old cursed up a storm (and he sucked, too): everyone ganged up on him the moment he respawned. It was a good game, where we actually used some strategy: the "kill the annoying kid so he'll shut up" strategy.

    Overall, though, the games for the Xbox in general are underwhelming, with the online versions having the same problem: there's one or two good ones, and a lot of eh ones.

    Microsoft needs some good breakout games that aren't just rehashes of superior PC games. But as they can spend millions creating/subsudizing such games, I don't doubt that MS will eventually come up with some.
  • Is fantastic with the PS2 network adaptor, plus the ps2 network adaptor is only $40 and for most games online play will remain free, Sony has decided rightly to let each game developer decide if they want to charge, right now all the games on the ps2 that have online play are free, but I'm sure they will be charging for games like Everquest when it is done.

    The other advantage Sony has is the PS2 network adaptor also has a modem, since not that many people have broadband. Its a shame that MS didn't look at the history of online gaming services, because from what I hear they are depending heavily on Xbox live for the games unit. I guess they never heard of the Imagination network, the Total Entertainment Network, Mplayer, and others that are out of business too. I guess they also didn't realize that Sony is kicking their ass in the console market and making the xBox online play cost more than the ps2, is not going to help their chances of gaining market share.

  • by Winterblink ( 575267 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @01:42PM (#4691153) Homepage
    How can people have an opinion on a service that's only days old? Just my opinion of course, but I think there's no way to adequately gauge how good the service is until more games are out for it and more players are on it. Once the community starts to take shape, then you'll be able to say whether the service is good, or just another online thing that's filled with retards.

    I think it's great the PS2 and XBox now have their online gaming abilities. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages, and I think there's definitely room for both.

  • by Fulg0re- ( 119573 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @02:37PM (#4691478)
    For the past two days, I've probably played my Xbox more than I have since I bought it this past May. The Xbox Live! setup is simply incredible. I haven't had so much fun playing console games in years. It's funny, I play PC games online all the time, yet I don't think I've ever heard the voice of any people whom I've played against.

    Amazingly, there seems to be no apparent lag with the service thus far! I have my Xbox connected through my Linksys BEFW11S4 v.2. wireless router, and so far, so good. One odd thing though, in Whacked, I only seem to be getting 2-3 bars for my connection (and that's when all the computers are off). Now, even with all the computers on, it doesn't seem to change. Perhaps this is due to either poor service on the part of Rogers Hi-Speed, or perhaps it's a matter of distance, as a lot of people whom I've played with are in the United States.

    In addition, there's this whole concern with Microsoft detecting and banning Xbox's with modchips installed. Apparently, you can disable your modchip (with a switch) and still be able to play, but if you went online with the modchip enabled, they ban your Xbox (likely its unique serial number). I agree that Microsoft has a 'right' to protect its service, but a more strongly-worded warning would have been nice.
  • XBox Live! (Score:3, Informative)

    by fahrvergnugen ( 228539 ) <`moc.liamtoh' `ta' `vrhaf'> on Sunday November 17, 2002 @04:55PM (#4692194) Homepage
    Mini-review:

    THE SERVICE:

    Signup: The first time you put a live DVD in your system, it installs some new OS-level software to allow you to connect to the service. Then comes the tedious process of entering name, address, credit card #, and other vitals through an onscreen keyboard. Surfing around the buttons grows tedious quickly, and this process can take as long as 10 minutes. While others have reported issues with gateway routers and debit cards, I had no problem connecting through my Watchguard SOHO/tc NAT box, or using my visa check card.

    Downloadable Content: All the online games I've played so far have been able to check for downloadable content. Microsoft has the option of charging for the download, which could lead to some serious imbalances in play (either pay $10 for the super ultra rocket launcher, or get your ass handed to you in deathmatch from now on) later. According to the buzz on the street, the first year or so of downloadable content should be free, but after that Microsoft plans to start introducing fees for certain downloads.

    Mod-chip lockout: Users of modchips are indeed locked out of using the live service, and for that, I'm very grateful, although this sentiment will probably get me modded down. Mod chips let people run tweaked, unsigned code. This opens the door for cheaters. If anyone remembers dreamcast PSO, you'll know how bad cheaters can ruin a game. The closed system MS has precludes any cheating except for exploits that may already be in the game, and I'm just fine with that.

    Hardware: The package ships with a CD of game demos and a headset. The headset is obviously designed without those who wear glasses in mind, and is a behind-the-head band on which a microphone mono speaker can be hung for either ear. This plugs into a module that plugs in turn into the top memory card slot on the controller. The module has a volume slider and a mute button. Fortunately, the jack on the headset is compatible with standard cell-phone handsfree kits, and I was able to plug one in as a replacement for the headset without any trouble. Voices are crisp and clear, and others seem to hear the smack I talk just fine.

    Games: The pack-in demos are Whacked and MotoGP. I'm confused by Microsoft's blind insistence on ignoring their killer app. Halo for this release. Are they worried about being flooded by their own success?

    Whatever the reason, the demos are a mixed bag. MotoGP is unquestionably the best motorcycle racing game ever made, with seperate analog controls for acceleration, steering, and seperate analog front & rear brake controls. It's visually stunning and the game runs 16-player races without lag, letting you verbally communicate with the 3 players closest to your position.

    It's also motorcycle racing, which is as interesting to me as watching paint dry. YMMV. Those who enjoy the game and also own the full version can unlock all the tracks and custom riders for online play.

    Whacked is garbage. Silly "sick and twisted" cartoon characters with big cheap weapons collect stars and smash each other. You can talk smack with the whole arena, but it doesn't hold my interest in the slightest.

    Better are the release games for the service. Unreal Championship is a faithful and beautiful reproduction of much of UT2k3's features, tweaked out for the system. Multiple voice channels for each team (there are also neutral channels for fraternizing with the enemy) let you form squads while you're playing, and bombing run, ctf, double-dom, deathmatch, and team dm are all present and accounted for. The resolution is low but the anti-aliasing is high, and the game runs at a constant speed. An interesting note is the ability to run your xbox with UC as a dedicated server should you so desire.

    MechAssault is a fun, but unbalanced, deathmatch game. Giant stompy robots blowing each other up is what you get, exactly as promised. The battletech faithful will be put off by the lack of location-specific damage (no more blowing off legs and quick headshot victories), but the resulting action game is fun and the battles can get hectic, with exploding players chain-reacting others into a giant fireball o' doom.

    Community: The community features are, overall, wonderful. Buddylisting a player is as easy as hitting pause and selecting his name from a menu. It's possible to send a game request to a player who's not even playing the same title you are. A popup appears on the screen, and if the player accepts, then all he has to do is put in the appropriate game disc, and he'll be joined to your game automatically.

    Also interesting are the systemwide rankings for each game. Stats are tracked for all players on all games, and you can see your rank against the systemwide leaderboard from the main menu of most games any time you'd like.

    MotoGP is the best at community, with pre- and post-game lobbies, and a dropdown on the HUD that appears to tell you who's currently talking. MechAssault, on the other hand, really drops the ball, with no post-game lobby, making starting a new game with the same players as the last difficult, if not impossible. Instead, players are dumped back to the main multiplayer menu, and have to rejoin a new server. Hopefully all future releases will follow MotoGP's lead, and the kinks in the launch games will be patched over by downloads.

    Misc: It's interesting to note MS is already patching titles. There was a bug in Sega's NFL2k3 that allowed someone who was losing the game to pause it indefinitely, and then wait out their would-be victor, since quitting is counted on the ranking boards as a loss. The game has since been patched to include a 90-second pause timeout, at which point the pausing player is automatically dumped from the game and takes the loss on HIS record.

    Overall: Not without its flaws, but the overall concepts and workflow are marvelous, and the game play is fast and lag-free. I'm very happy with the service, and will gladly pay $50 a year for it when it comes time to pay up again. I'm a little wary of for-pay downloadable content, and the online features need to be standardized across games. There's a lot of A-list titles in the lineup, but none that break away from the pack and appear as a killer app. Halo 2 will probably sell a lot of kits, but as it stands it'll probably only appeal to the hardcore, and current X-Box owners.
  • by mrcutrer ( 265376 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @09:13PM (#4693447) Homepage Journal
    I work for the xbox Live! support team, if someone has a problem connecting to the service, they call me. So far I have not recieved a call from a customer wanting to cancel their account for the service sucking.

    Looks to be doing good from the inside so far.

We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and IBM. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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