Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What happens when video games get too real.

The Xbox 360 - What happens when video games get too real.

Here is the opening paragraph: "The Xbox 360 is the best game console ever designed. It's fast and powerful - games look as good on the 360 as on high-end PCs that cost six times as much. It's easy to navigate and has lots of useful secondary features - the ability to play digital video, stream MP3s, and so on. The lineup of launch games is solid: Call of Duty 2 (into which I've already poured too many hours) is an exceptional World War II shooter; the spy/stealth thriller Perfect Dark Zero is smooth and entertaining; the visually spectacular fantasy game Kameo: Elements of Power is loaded with eerily beautiful backgrounds and insanely detailed battle scenes featuring hundreds of creatures. So, after spending countless hours with my 360, why do I find myself thinking: Is that all there is?"

The author then tries several hypotheses to explain his malaise:But he misses the real reason. The real reason is that we have these hyper-real characters in hyper-real environments, yet we are still controlling the characters with our thumbs. The basic human interface (a couple of joysticks and a few buttons) has not changed in 30 years, while everything else has gotten better and better. And let's face it -- controlling a hyper-real character with your thumbs is insane. Your body has hundreds of muscle groups, and the brain can control them all simultaneously. Yet you use just a handful of those muscles to control everything about your character. The interface is so limiting that it drives you nuts.

We do not want to use our thumbs -- we actually want to BE in the game, using all of our muscles and all of our senses inside the game world as we do in the real world.

See The Day We Discard Our Bodies for details.

Very good, very good indeed. Only one problem......The X-box 360 only plays good if you have a HDTV. Also it crashed just a little while back, here is what IGN said....

Xbox 360: Glitch in the System?

Freezing, scratching, overheating, oh my! Is there really a mass problem with the launch systems? We explore.

By Jonathan Miller

December 5, 2005 - Jonathan Giles had been waiting since 6 am on November 21 for his Xbox 360 ticket. He preorderd the 360 way back in June and wasn't sure about the purchase until he saw a trailer for The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. He was hooked, and said he hadn't been this excited about a console in years, maybe ever.

The GameCrazy in Giles' hometown of Ogden, Utah wasn't able to meet its preorder demands due to the massive shortage of systems around the country coupled with the high demand for the first next-generation console. Instead, GameCrazy handed out tickets for the handful of systems on hand at launch day on a first-come, first-serve basis. Giles, 35, a gamer since Pong, was one of the faithful and, as a result, was No. 9 in line. At midnight, November 22, Giles got his 360.

With a few extra controllers and copies of Call of Duty 2, Madden NFL 06, Perfect Dark Zero, Project Gotham Racing 3 and Quake 4, Giles went home with his brother, excited to challenge his sibling to a friendly game of Madden. He already had his HDTV ready to go and a space cleared for his new console. They started playing Madden and shortly into the game, Giles' Xbox 360 froze.

"Maybe it's just a glitch," Giles told his brother. He turned the system off, then on, and then started a new game. Again, it froze. Nervous now, Giles said, "Maybe it's this copy of Madden." So he tried another game, then another. After all five of his games froze within the first hour of owning the Xbox 360, Giles became angry. He paid more than $1,500 for the games, system and accessories that littered his living room, and nothing worked.

"I was so irate. I almost nearly cried," Giles said.

The next morning, Giles called GameCrazy and the clerk said there would be no exchange or no refund and that he should talk with Microsoft. So he calls 1-800-4MXBOX but can't get through. He was on hold so long his phone battery died.

"I guess a lot of people were having problems," Giles said.

On the third day, he managed to get through to an operator at Microsoft who was extremely helpful, Giles said. Together, they ran through a series of troubleshooting steps, checked connections and power supply, but the console still locked up. Microsoft kindly overnighted an empty cardboard box so Giles could send his 360 to the Microsoft repair center in McAllen, Texas. Shipping was prepaid. Three days later, Giles received from Microsoft a new Xbox 360 console that works almost perfectly.

"I was very impressed with Microsoft and how they dealt with me as a customer," Giles said. "Obviously there are some major problems with the system, as you see around message boards and the news. That's pretty normal with any launch, and Microsoft did a great job of taking care of me."

Rumors of Xbox 360 glitches have been swirling since just hours after the console's launch on November 22, when complaints of overheating and disc-scratching surfaced on IGN message boards. The question every gamer wants answered is: What, if anything, is wrong with the 360? Are these errors the result of normal launch problems, to be expected from any new console? Or, as many gamers assume, did Microsoft rush the launch of the 360, sacrificing quality assurance to ensure a large number of consoles will be available for the holiday buying season? Only a few weeks into the launch, answers are hard to come by.

Microsoft spokeswoman Molly O'Donnell confirmed today what many people already know: There are problems with the Xbox 360. However, she was quick to stress that Microsoft is providing service via 1-800-4MYXBOX and that the frequency of problems is below the average 3 to 5 percent range for videogame consoles at launch.

"These reports are real," O'Donnell said. "Even though percentages are low, we need to be aggressive in addressing them. These are our most loyal customers, the ones that waited outside in the cold to get an Xbox 360, and we value them."

No single technical problem has been identified with the Xbox 360, although users are most vocal about freezing, disc-scratching and overheating. In fact, Reuters reported today that a Chicago man is suing Microsoft, claiming "the power supply and central processing unit in the Xbox 360 overheat, affecting heat-sensitive chips and causing the console to lock up."

"There is no systemic problem," O'Donnell said. "The 360 runs hotter than other consoles, but still well within safety limits. There are three very powerful processors in there."

As for disc-scratching, we at IGN have experienced the problem first-hand. Producer Brennan Ieyoub moved an Xbox 360 from vertical position to horizontal position while Amped 3 was running and the disc was, in his words, "eaten." Designer Randy Lastimosa fought his way valiantly to the final levels of Call of Duty 2 when, his console horizontal and perfectly still, he heard a strange sound from the console. He ejected the disc and it was ruined.

Microsoft says that it is not aware of any problems when the console is stationary. It does, however, advise to never move the console while the power is on and a disc is in the console. Most retailers have not accepted returns on scratched games, to boot.

"With any piece of electronics, it's not a good idea to change its position when it's turned on," O'Donnell said. "There is something like 1,700 parts in that box."

Of the units that are sent in and repaired, O'Donnell couldn't specify exactly which of those 1,700 parts have been problematic -- only that owners have had either their unit repaired or replaced. Microsoft expects up to 3 million consoles to be on the market before the end of February but says the likelihood of defects will decrease over time as manufacturing problems are ironed out.

"If we could make more and sell more, we would. You just can't go zero to 60 on this because quality is No. 1," O'Donnell said. "But nine out of 10 problems you can troubleshoot over the phone."

Giles was one of the unfortunate few that couldn't troubleshoot over the phone and said the process, while smooth and well-handled on Microsoft's part, was still a hassle.

"I think we should at least get some Microsoft points or something." Giles said. "I am one of those hardcore fans. I hope they try and make it up to us somehow."

As you can see the "Awesome X-box 360" isn't as good as what everyone had hoped. But you can go ahead and waste your money on a system that is like all the others. I'm whaiting for the Nintendo Revolution.
If I had the option to hook my brain up into the game system, I would do it in an instant.

How do we get NASA to start working on this stuff right now?
Our Animal brains are not meant to be uploaded in a computer. When we get what we want, we just want more. It would be interesting for a few years and then all seem pointless.

People disconnected from their bodys would quickly become pleasure junkies.

Wow I can have sex with 2 girls, then 5 girls... why not just turn on constant orgasm and lay in a puddle of drool for years on end.

Im keeping my body
I am looking forward to seeing what Nintendo is trying with the Nintendo Revolution controller.

According to the article:
Two small sensors placed near the TV and a chip inside the controller track its position and orientation, allowing the player to manipulate the action on screen by physically moving the controller itself. For example, you could slash an in-game sword by actually swinging the controller from side to side, turn a race car just by twisting your wrist, or aim your gun in a shooter by pointing the controller where you want to fire.
You're right, the face of the interface needs to revolutionize. NASA is working on this though.


Dance Dance Revolution was quite a revolution, developers should be taking notes. Not copying the idea, but noting it's paradigm.

The Xbox 360 just simply has to be treated like a PC and it's fine.
"Our Animal brains are not meant to be uploaded in a computer."

Our brains aren't meant for anything at all. Evolution has purpose nor goal.

If our brains are 'meant' for anything at all, it is to use them to do exactly as we please.

Evolution gave us rationality, and the desire to improve our own situation.

The logical outcome is transhumanism, and a Singularity ofcourse.

"When we get what we want, we just want more. It would be interesting for a few years and then all seem pointless."

Naturally we always want more. Imagine being content with the same skillset and the same material posessions for decades on end. Wouldn't that be a bore?

Thankfully, everything gets used to. That way, we can keep moving on the more skills and more material posessions.

Besides... for a virtual being it is easy to re-engineer your own brain and get rid of that problem. It's really just another problem te solve.

"People disconnected from their bodys would quickly become pleasure junkies."

If you don't want to, you don't have to. You have free will.

"Wow I can have sex with 2 girls, then 5 girls... why not just turn on constant orgasm and lay in a puddle of drool for years on end."

Would that really be so bad?

"Im keeping my body"

Only as long as your friends do that as well. But when they start to migrate, I'm doubting you'll let yourself get left behind.
"If our brains are 'meant' for anything at all, it is to use them to do exactly as we please."

That's so silly =P We don't have cognitive control of our emotions for obvious "reasons" I'd have to agree with your first statment. There's no reason other then the one "we" and evolution created.

"Naturally we always want more. Imagine being content with the same skillset and the same material posessions for decades on end. Wouldn't that be a bore?"

Yeah, we're always gonna want more.. Evolution "intended" (note the quotation) us to look for water, not sit and wait for it as a tree would. The more we move the more we reproduce the more one survives.

"Thankfully, everything gets used to. That way, we can keep moving on the more skills and more material posessions."

Why keep moving and gaining? What's the point? as you said before.. there's no reason. So why be thankful for something that has no reason?

"Perfection of means and confusion of ends seem to characterize our age" - Einstein

"Would that really be so bad?"

If we are to survive as a species, then yes, that's bad. Same concept with drugs.

Only as long as your friends do that as well. But when they start to migrate, I'm doubting you'll let yourself get left behind."

Exactly, envy is a bitch. People don't realize that what they want is based on envy... Average people can't go to the moon now, but no one bitches that they can't.. if people start to go, saddness via envy sets it.. "waaaa, I wanna go to the moon"
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Several thoughts come to mind here.

First and foremost, is my Cardinal Rule, which is:

Never buy 1st Generation...


(this especially goes for the new Apple\Intel-Inside/iMac, which just came out today. You just know that that one's going to have problems, right out the gate, but it's not going to be anything Apple's marketing machine hasn't seen before. insert appropriate emoticon here. Not that they've ever been any help to their end-users.)

As well as its corrollary, which is:

Always buy last year's hardware and this year's software.

There are reasons for this.

One them is that (B)Leading Edge Technology is notorious for not having all its bugs and kinks werked out, leaving the end-user as unwitting, unpaid, guinea pigs and beta-testers and having the added indignity of having to pay full freight vig for the privilege.

Anyone buying the first iterations of the iPod or Xbox can readily testify as to the verity of this.

The hardware/software rule is predicated on the simple fact that it generally takes about a year, at minimum, for software code to be written that is 'native' that can take advantage of the advances in the hardware's chip design.

It's not a 'glitch in the system,' far from it, it's a 'putting the cart in front of the horse' issue, not that this doesn't stop the associated industries from spending hundreds of millions of dollars on their hype machines anytime a new, groundbreaking technology comes to market.

Being honest with the consumer would do nothing for their bottom line and would certainly tick-off the majority of their shareholders.

So every few years we get to read a host of IGN articles about poor, poor, Jonathan Giles, who just *had* to be the first kid on his block to get a 360, and his perennial wave of disappointment, which he totally could have avoided by simply waiting for about a year.

Delayed gratification, (shareholders be darned), in this case works out for him in not only terms of user satisfaction, but economically as well.

As with any launch of any significant game console there is a dearth of games, at first, but within a year's time a library of games begins to form. You can easily see this with the growth of titles that we've seen in the last two years for the old Xbox, which are light years away from the games that were available in late 2001, including Halo.

The same trend will play out with the new Xbox-360, as well as the pricing trend that we saw with xBox-1, which is about a year or so after the launch Microsoft slashed the price of the Xbox, practically in half.

This will happen with the 360 as well, as it has with every piece of hot, hot, hot, gotta have it, technology that has come down the pike, such as the first TI Calculator from the late 1970's, or the turn of the century DVD players, both of which today cost a fraction of what they did when they were first introduced.

Now as far as your main point goes, you're absolutely right, the bottleneck in game play today is currently in the controllers.

Barring any sort of quantuum leap in this area where your Vertabrane is being bundled with every new PC, (which means we'll probably start to see something promising in the next 3-5 years), we'll be stuck with thumb/hand dominant controllers for the forseeable future.

This is not to say that things are not starting to emerge to address this, one being the advent of 'haptic' technology which has been in hand controllers since the introduction of the 'rumble' feature.

Where is all this going to go and how is it going to get there?

Being that sex has been the driving force for mass acceptance of many new technolgis, it's going to be teledildonic suits, of course.

Don't believe it?

Try and imagine where this idea will be a decade from now.

It's likely that teledildonics will not only be accepted but will be the spur that brings Vertabrane to market.

'nuff 4 now.

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