[u]Update:[/u] Added information from today's Yahoo chat.
Below I'm putting up some of the most frequently asked questions so others too can be get some clarity (I'll be adding sources a bit later and maybe extending it):
Why the name Xbox One?
Larry Hryb had this to say on the subject: " Xbox One because it is the ultimate all-in-one entertainment system. As far 720 is concerned...that was a name the community came up with. We never considered that name. "
Is the Xbox One always online?
No, but there will be some features which will require a connection at some point. MS's reasoning for this is that the Xbox One is a modern console designed to take advantage of what the internet has to offer - cloud, updates, content, persistent games.etc.etc.
The comment made by Phil Harrison that the Xbox One will need to check in once every 24 hours has been dismissed by MS, they've stated: "There have been reports of a specific time period - these were discussions of potential scenarios, but we have not confirmed any details today, nor will we be."
Larry Hryb has this to say on the subject of always on connection: " No. It does not have to be always connected but it does require an internet connection. "
He also had this to say on how XBL will aid games: "Indeed…the new architecture allows developers to do processing in the cloud in really really smart ways. That will results in much richer gaming experiences than ever before. "
Phil Harrison has since changed his message on the subject of the 24 hour check in: "We've not made a specific announcement on the details of that. "
Can separate accounts on the same console play the same game?
Most likely yes. Larry Hryb has this to say on the subject: "As I noted earlier we're still working on some of the policies..but our goal is that it would work like it works today on Xbox 360. "
Can you trade and resell games?
Yes. MS will be giving further details about this, so in what form this will take and how controlled is unknown at the moment.
Larry Hryb has this to say on used games: "We are still months away from the launch of Xbox One & policy decisions are still being finalized."
Eurogamer are now reporting that the rumoured activation fee is correct but it is paid by the shop and not the shopper. The process consists of a collaboration between MS and the retail chain, and ensures retailer, publisher and MS get a cut of the profits. Therefore, the price you see on a used game is the price you will pay to play it. The article also states the cost of the activation fee is not finalised by MS yet.
Larry Hyrb has put up a new official statement on his Major Nelson blog: " The ability to trade in and resell games is important to gamers and to Xbox. Xbox One is designed to support the trade in and resale of games. Reports about our policies for trade in and resale are inaccurate and incomplete. We will disclose more information in the near future."
(The fee for playing a used game was stated by MS as a potential scenario, see the Polygon article below)
Can you lend games?
Maybe, but currently no. MS's current line is that games are now tied to a single account. Essentially, the new system is like a Steamworks game. You buy the game, install it, activate it with a key and then it is tied to your account. You can access it wherever but only on your account. Larry Hryb's clarified blog statement has backed this up.
As for the maybe part: Xboxsupport has said they are looking into making lending possible.
(The fee for playing a used game was stated by MS as a potential scenario, see the Polygon article below)
Is the Xbox One backwards compatible?
No, previous gen games will not work on the Xbox One, this also includes purchased XBLA games. MS cited the reason as a technical limitation due to new core architecture.
Larry Hryb confirmed this: " Xbox One hardware is not compatible with Xbox 360 games. We designed Xbox One to play an entirely new generation of games. Games are architected to take full advantage of the state of the art processors and infinite power of the cloud. "
Does the Kinect work in smaller spaces?
Yes. Larry Hryb had this to say: " It does. It has a much wider field of view which will allow it work in smaller spaces. A 1080p wider field of view even! "
Will Xbox's TV features work in my country?
This depends on where you live. Xbox One's TV features will be rolled out in the US first and then worldwide, the reason cited is that around the world every cable/satellite service is different so it will take time to roll out to everyone, but, ultimately, they will be aiming for worldwide.
Why were there no games?
MS wanted to show off their console first, that was the focus. Although they did spend some time highlighting a few major titles and mentioned 15 exclusive new IPs they will be announcing (8 will be brand new).
The reason why it wasn't more games heavy is explained by Harvey Eagle, Xbox UK's marketing chief:
"E3 is absolutely all about the games. E3 is gaming, gaming, gaming. We've been very clear about that internally in our planning." ... "But we felt that there was another part, and we didn't want to wait until after E3 to start telling that story. So that's why we went with the plan tonight: to come out of the gate with the overall vision for the box, an all-in-one device with games, TV and entertainment. We didn't want to forget games entirely tonight, because then there's the risk that people think we're forgetting them, and that couldn't be further from the truth. But we tried to be clear that E3 completes the story, and that's where you'll see the games."
This is reflected by Larry Hryb's response on today's live chat on what will be focussed on at E3: "Games. Games. GAMES :) ". He also went on to say this about how appealing the console would be to hardcore gamers: " I think they’ll be happy after E3."
Will Indie developers be allowed on Xbox One?
Larry Hryb had this to say on the subject: " We're working on a plan for Xbox One is a platform that allows all creators, including those who work on games and apps, regardless of team size, funding, biz model, etc. to be a part of the future of Xbox One."
Phil Harrison recently addressed the question on support of indie games: "You've seen on Xbox 360 that Microsoft has, I think, pioneered a commitment to new development talent through Xbox Live Arcade and the indie channel. What we've done on Xbox One is we've been very purposeful in removing these distinctions between categories of games. We don't want to infer quality by the size of the developer that created it - they're just 'games' to us, which is why you only see games as one category."
How much will the console be?
No details yet. Some UK priced preorders are pegged at £399, but this is still a placeholder price.
Larry Hryb had this to say on the subject: " We have not announced price yet...look for details on that later this year. "
Will a headset be bundled with an Xbox One?
Larry Hryb had this to say on bundled headsets: "We'll have details on accessories at E3...it's only 18 days away now. "
If you follow twitter chances are you already got the lowdown on the Perez situation but if you haven’t the situation is this: Ryan Perez was fired for a few harsh comments aimed at Felicia Day (I will refrain from saying attacked because this was hardly verbal abuse.)
Here’s a quote from his twitter feed:
“I keep seeing [you] everywhere. Question: Do you matter at all? Do you even provide anything useful to gaming, besides “personality?” could you be considered nothing more than a glorified booth babe? You don’t seem to add anything creative to the medium.”
Following these comments Ryan admits he didn’t even know what he was talking about and was drunk at the time. The problem is by this time a lynch mob had formed and was being spurred on by the big guns of geek culture and the industry like Whil Wheaton.
Following this was the announcement that Perez was no longer with Dtoid.
Now Ryan was clearly wrong to direct those comments to Felicia in his position without knowing anything about Felicia Day (he should have acquainted himself with her awful work and posted undirected criticism on his feed in my opinion.) It also highlights the naive Journalist defence that the disclaimer “opinions are my own” doesn't work and will not somehow protect them from any consequences like a magic shield.
I do however think it was wrong for Perez to be fired. I really, really hope Dale North tried to do what he could to keep him onboard and had a chat with Ryan Perez asking him to post up a lengthy apology before even considering cutting Perez from Destructoid otherwise I would question whether it was a fair dismissal.
The biggest problem I have with the whole situation is how the industry influenced the journalistic side of gaming. The masses hungered for blood and Destructoid gave it to them. It highlights how there are certain figures within the gaming industry you just cannot p*** off or your head will roll. Unlike other forms of journalism the gaming kind is so utterly dependant on keeping these people sweet that even a strong interrogative interview is looked upon as rude and might end up with your nuts in a vice and your name on a blacklist.
Maybe nobody cares what I think, after all I’m not a twitter guy with 2 mill followers like Whil, but all I can say is I’m really disappointed it came to this and would have thought Destructoid would fight its corner.
Now the ECDLC is out and everyone has had a chance to play it or at least watch YT vidyas of the endings, the people are responding mostly with positive or indifferent feedback. Looking over the difference in response from then and now you've got to ask how did this happen? the community went from a seething mass of hate and outrage to a docile bunny.
Part of it is down to the PR side of Bioware choosing to ride out the storm and believing over time people will become more agreeable. It's amazing how the words "We are listening to all your feedback" gently soothe the gaming community into a tranquil herd of cattle.
Now I really doubt Bioware poured through the huge multitude of responses they received when their forums got flooded with feedback, their CMs got flooded with feedback and ME communities were flooded with feedback. Bioware simply had to look like they were listening to make their fans more accepting and so they did.
The other part is down to the fanservice. The simple inclusion of a few clarifications of the WTF moments, an extra scene with LI, an extra scene with Crew and a ending slideshow were enough of a smokescreen to sway the minds of gamers and disguise the awful endings.
The interesting thing about it all is that Bioware changed very little about the nonsensical and flawed endings opting to explain the stupid rather than change it. The choices at the end amount to you can be f***ed now or you can be f***ed later.
For example Synthesis (that they really, really try to sell the player on this time as the choice you should pick if you want everything to be good) makes everyone a Hybrid and simply because of that they will understand each other and never go to war again? really? former Organics just forgot everything they loved just got annihilated? what happens when someone makes a new AI, that mix will never end in Hybrid vs Synthetic? it is like an ending out of a fanfic or a children's picture book where there is peace at the end and everyone lived happily ever after.
So in the end Bioware have essentially dressed up dogs*** by putting bows all over it. Developers everywhere now have a great example of how to get away with a crappy ending: just play along with your community and then slip in some fanservice moments at the end and your community will easily forget how much of a hack job your ending is.
Following in the footsteps of Tim Schafer and Brian Fargo everyone and their mother are taking to Kickstarter to get their projects funded. The trouble now is quite a few of these projects are flooding in as companies have seen their success and started dipping their toes in to test the water, and this has lead to some posting up of some less than impressive Kickstarter pages.
One such example is MonkeyPaw and GaijinWork's "Class of Heroes II" Kickstarter page. At the moment the page is at 387 backers, $35,819 pledged of the $500,000 total, and has 28 days left to go. I'm no fortune teller but something tells me that instead of snowballing in popularity there is going to be a sharp drop off in backers. Here's why I think this will be the case:
-They didn't learn from other Developers and their Kickstarter mistakes
I am referring to the last high profile project featured in gaming news which was Serellan LLC who pitched their hardcore tactical shooter project. The problem began when the team hit $70,000 and the backer numbers started to drop off.
Rather than admit defeat Serellan LLC re-evaluated their pitch. Christian Allen the spokesperson for the project then got in touch with Kotaku and was given an opportunity to talk to the gaming masses by posting up an article. The article posted was titled "I messed up my videogame Kickstarter. Now, I'm fixing it."
In the article he pointed out three primary points where he thinks they went wrong:
1. Lack of instant name recognition that Tim Schafer and Brian Fargo have.
2. The video wasn't exciting or high quality enough and simply not up to standard.
3. They were too vague, lacked assets to show, didn't differentiate themselves from competition and "the name SUCKED"
In response to these points they got a video production company to work on their pitch video, they hired the actor Matt Corboy to help promote , they commissioned concept art by Charles Guan, they got music produced by Rich Douglas, and they created a new logo for the game and renamed it "Takedown". Up to that point I had been on the fence about backing the project but this honest effort to turn it around prompted me to back the project.
Now this change happened a day or two before the "Class of Heroes II" Kickstarter went up. Looking at their page it is easy to see the points Christian Allen prioritised for the Serellan LLC project also apply to this project.
As far as I can see there is no spokesperson for this project, the only name dropped is Victor Ireland who started up Gaijinworks and no offense to Victor but unless you are a Shigeru Miyamoto the typical gamer won't always know who you are. Since this is all about localisation of "Class of Heroes II" and future Jrpgs if successful why not hire a prominent voice actor or voice actress? maybe Ali Hillis the voice of FFXIII's Lightning? it could boost the popularity of this project by quite a bit.
Another point is currently the Kickstarter page has no video at all to summarise their project or grip any potential backer. There is however a summary, recently added, which gets to the point of the matter: They want to create a better physical deluxe pack and better localisation for Class of Heroes II. I still don't think this does enough to pull people in. It certainly didn't get me excited to back this project.
Now in terms of how vague it is, it was certainly vague at the beginning. It began with a speech about how there was always a demand for more Jrpgs and the good old days of the Jrpg market. That sounds great but what is the project about? Luckily as I mentioned above they have just rectified the vague intro now with a short and to the point summary at the beginning which is clear for backers what their money is for.
Now looking through projects I have backed, Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2, The Banner Saga, Takedown, they have all had a fairly decent reward structure. I usually donate at the $15-$30 mark where I know I will get maybe the first part of the game or even the entire game for the money I am pledging. In the case of the "Class of Heroes II" Kickstarter you have to pledge at least $59 to even get the game. So what do you get in the tiers below that?
-$5 - A thank you email and your name will make it into the game code (the actual code, not the credits where people will see it.)
-$10 - A Class of Heroes II themed thank you letter and your name in the game code.
-$20 - Previous reward and a limited edition game poster and downloadable soundtrack.
Then it goes straight to the $59 pledge where you get the previous rewards and actually get the game and the physical deluxe pack, plus a commemorative bronze lapel pin. I think you can guess where most of the backers are.
There are a few backers at the lower tiers but I can't understand why a lower tier donation would be appealing at all to anyone. You are paying to help localise and bring into existence a deluxe pack that you will have to go out and buy or maybe you won't buy it, and you get a pat on the back for your money. MonkeyPaw and GaijinWorks have certainly tried to make it appealing with their inspiring talk of the golden age of Jrpgs and showing the market Jrpgs are still in demand, but gamers very rarely will support anything out of the goodness of their own heart even if it benefits them in the long run to have better localisation standards.
-Limited platforms and region locking
The actual game will be coming out on PSP, and if you think that isn't limiting enough, it is also only playable on PSPs that play North American games. So that means no PS3 version and no PC version even though Steam have thrown open the doors to Jrpgs. The only other option is through PS Vita and its backwards compatibility downloads but to even get the downloadable version of the game you have to pledge $100 or above.
I'm not privy to what goes on beyond closed doors at MonkeyPaw and GaijinWorks so maybe they have considered it, but for this to really take off I think having the game on as many platforms as possible in a downloadable form would make sense and be a great way to actually get people interested.
I mentioned the goal before, but just to refresh you: MonkeyPaw and GaijinWorks are looking for $500,000 for a niche game localisation. I'm not an expert or an analyst but I just can't imagine the project hitting that goal.
Even Serellan LLC and their Takedown project which pitched a tactical shooter had a more realistic and modest goal of $200,000 and those guys are struggling to even reach that goal with maybe 3 days to go. Their Class of Heroes II introduction on the golden age of Jrpgs is inspiring but the entire Jrpg fan base are not going to get behind it, not even all the Jrpg fan base who have a PSP are going to get behind it.
The previous projects that I mentioned all started off very quickly and had a large percentage of funds at the beginning some meeting their goal and surpassing it easily and some who got maybe close to 50% and are working hard for the rest of the funds for the remainder of time. At the moment Class of Heroes II has $35,819 of $500,000 which is a slow start for a very large goal.
Despite all my criticism, I do wish MonkeyPaw and GaijinWorks the best of luck and I hope they prove my amateur predictions wrong. Unfortunately I just can't see this project building steam.
[Beware: minor spoilers in the comment section below the blog post]
Over the past few days I have seen quite a few journalist comments damning the gamers who are complaining about the ME3 endings. These journalists have also come out with some pretty sweeping generalisations and statements so I've chosen a few of them to address below.
-The change is a blow to videogames as art
I feel an artist who chooses to take on board feedback and then makes changes to their art is not diminishing their artistic medium or creative vision in the slightest. This is because ultimately it is the artist's decision to evaluate their work and consider whether there is some truth to it and then they can consider whether they should change it.
This situation is not new, it has already happened in other mediums. We had past great writers such as Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle being persuaded to change their work and without this fan persuasion we would not have the revised and loved ending of Great Expectations and we wouldn't have The Hound of the Baskervilles.
If the developers out there truly have no doubts then they can take the feedback and criticism on the chin and not change anything. Nobody has a gun to their head. The worst that can happen is people do not buy another game, and if you are preserving your art then this is a non-issue.
The real threat here is not fan persuasion, it's the higher powers who can put a gun to the artists head and say change it.
-Fans need to respect artistic integrity
Am I the only one that raised an eyebrow at this? blockbuster videogames preserving artistic integrity? I'm sure a cameo by Jessica Chobot was part of the original creative vision, and also cutting the unfinished From Ashes content from the core, then finishing it and then charging for the DLC first day of release reinforces their artistic integrity as well.
The truth is It's all good business until someone complains and then it's about the art. Honestly and seriously I believe the artistic integrity card does not work here. If it was all about the art like I went into detail above then sure play that card all day, but what I am seeing from these major games is that primarily they are products and then secondly art. For games like Mass Effect artistic vision takes a backseat to the bottom line.
I think a fitting analogy for all this is that the game is a delicious and tasty burger. First the onions are taken out because the Head Chef thinks the customers don't like onions and of course the tomatoes are then taken out to sell on the side, and yet when a customer complains that they don't like the taste and would like it to be different the Chef throws up his hands and says you do not respect his creative vision. You mean the creative vision that was just compromised and changed so you could make it appeal to the customer and also make a stack of cash?
This is why I feel artistic integrity is an inadequate defence of products.
-Only a small vocal minority are complaining
The above statement about these fans being a minority group is one made with zero evidence backing it up.
While I can't disprove it entirely I think what little evidence available shows that at least online and looking at the numbers available online this is not the case. For instance the largest poll I have seen addressing the issue is currently on Gamefaqs at the moment. The total user votes are 51,014.
The question posed is "Do you think BioWare should change the ending of Mass Effect 3?" and from the top the results are: 38.1% say yes if that's what users want, 12.57% say probably as a lot of players seem angry, 14.87% say maybe if it is best for the story, 7.24% say no they shouldn't cave in to fan demands, and 27.22% say absolutely not. Even if you disregard the probably and maybe options the yes voters are in the majority here.
But what about the open and user based review sites like Amazon and Metacritic?
Metacritic: ME3 360 (4.8/2044), ME3 PS3 (3.6/776), ME3 PC (3.7/2395)
Not that it would affect the results but I have not voted on any of these. This is hardly conclusive but from what evidence can be gathered it paints a picture that there is a substantial amount of players in the community who have a problem with the game, and I think this is further backed up by the fact Bioware are actually doing something about it. What developer would really move mountains for a minority?
In the end though, even these polls overall do not reflect everyone who bought the game, so while I cannot prove a majority were dissatisfied neither can the opposition prove that a majority were satisfied.
-This is unprecedented/This will set a dangerous precedent
This one was mostly from IGN, specifically a vid made by Colin Moriarty and Collin Campbell lamenting Biowares choice of expanding the current endings. Here's a quote from Mark Meer the voice of male Shep to set them straight: " Changing or expanding the end of the game wouldn't be unprecedented. The gaming community saw it a few years ago with Fallout 3 from Bethesda and the Broken Steel DLC."
Unbelievably Mark Meer isn't even a journalist and yet he knew more about what is going on than two senior staff members at one of the biggest videogame websites around.
Mark is absolutely correct, due to fan feedback the ending was changed. What is the situation now after the change? well the earth didn't explode due to the change, the games industry didn't riot, journalists rarely mention it anymore as well, and what happened to the fans? well I assume they are all still playing Fallout 3 and the open ended adventure that they fought for and won for the community.
It seems in the recent few days IGN have been coming out more and more with these deliberately controversial vids that take every opportunity to mock the fans. Despite this the fan base have been pretty reserved about the whole thing. Probably because it's hard to take these guys seriously when they talk about integrity.
Luckily Erik Kain, a contributor to Forbes, has already highlighted Colin Moriarty's hypocrisy so I don't need to look far for Mr. Moriarty's quote about how much he cares about artistic integrity:
" Obviously, the fact that Cole has been reverted back to his old self (somewhat) is great news. After all, Greg and I did our fair share of whining on Podcast Beyond after the new Cole was first shown on the cover of Game Informer some months back. Of course, I’d love for Sucker Punch to bring back Cole’s old voice, too, but hey – beggars can’t be choosers.
But beyond (BEYOND!) the excitement I feel to have old Cole back in Infamous 2, I think the sudden change in character model says a lot more. Indeed, it says a great deal about Sucker Punch itself. This is a studio that listens to its fans, cares what they want, and attempts to cater to as many of them as possible. There’s no doubt that fans of a franchise can’t be trusted with every little thing (after all, look at how many people were completely and utterly wrong when they predicted Wind Waker would suck based solely on its graphics – I still laugh at those people today), but it still delivers a rather important point.
But with the new Cole design, Sucker Punch heard loud and clear what fans of Infamous wanted, and they delivered. Infinite amounts of kudos to them for doing right by their community. Fans of Infamous won’t soon forget it. Sucker Punch is one of Sony’s most valuable developers. They are tuned-in with the PS3 faithful, and it’s things like this that prove it. "
-The people complaining are demanding a happy sunshine and rainbows ending
Not everyone does want a happy sunshine and rainbows ending, but I guess it is easier to label everyone within a group as having the same opinion than taking the time to find out what the feelings are within it. I will however admit there is part of the group of dissatisfied gamers who do want this, so I would be lying if I said none of the gamers or Retake ME3 members want a happy ending but it's certainly not everyone.
Just from my own viewpoint I personally expected Shep would die. What I was really disappointed by was the lack of choice, plotholes, meagre epilogue, and unbelievably bad writing. It felt as if the very last part of the games was rushed. That's my issue with it.
So that is the last of the statements. I am still surprised how many people have come out and said there should be absolutely no change, and even more irritating are the ones I have seen who have said "I don't like ME3 but here is why it shouldn't change". There is a lot of bias against fans going around so all I can say is just remember the people complaining are just doing it because they love the series so much.