E3 08: Microsoft details new Live interface and dashboard update

Today, at the Microsoft press conference, a new Live interface was revealed. It is a GUI that will incorporate Avatars, 3D sliders, and channels that will replace the blade system currently in use. As presenter John Schappert put it, the new interface is all about “simplicity and fun.”

The Avatar is basically what we saw with the leak a few weeks back. Microsoft is using the studio of Banjo-Kazooie fame, Rare, for the visuals of the avatars. Users will be able to customize their Avatars however they wish – at a price. Shirts, pants, shoes, hats, and whatever else will be available via Marketplace. Avatars can also be used in XBLA, the first game of which will be the new Uno rendition, Uno Rush.

The “community channel” is also another part of the new interface. The big sticking point of the channel is the “Live party” system. Live party will allow groups of up to eight players to private chat each other at once across a variety of tasks, including watching Netflix movies or playing games as usual. Tied into this new system is “Primetime,” which, according to Major Nelson, is essentially a collection of trivia games that can reward gamers with real prizes as well as achievements.

A few other notable things will go down this fall when the interface is implemented. Xbox 360 owners will finally be able to utilize their hard drives for more than just storing movies and music. Players will be able to download their games to the hard drive, creating faster load times. New displays will be supported within the update. The elusive 1440×900 and the 1680X1050 will be available, as well 16×10 over VGA or HDMI.

We’re all sure that new stuff will continually be announced over the week, so stay tuned for more details on the above stuff, as well as anything that may pop up.

Brad BradNicholson