The only things you really need to know about Microsoft's E3 press event


#1

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#2

The most (well, really only) interesting thing for me to come out of this E3 was this bit of news:

Though I’m kinda annoyed that I traded in my 360 version of GTA 5, since none of my friends have the XBone version I can’t play online with them with the new version, so I never bothered buying it.


#3

Fallout 4. Dishonored 2. Some other details.


#4

But I think the rise of VR and holos and stuff means we can expect hardware-makers to finally let us stop waving our hands futilely at our TV.

Personally, I never understood the hate that the Kinect wrought. Being able to say “Xbox, pause” when the kids have come down when we’re watching a movie in the dark, without tracking down the remote and saying “Just a minute!” has been a huge boon. Walking into a room, saying “Xbox On,” and being the correct person signed in by the time I get to the couch is just awesome.

Were developers to do more than just have you wave fingers, we would have had a more immersive experience in the living room years ago without having to slap on bulky hardware.

The Kinect could have been a value-add with VR headsets: reach out, and have your avatar also reach out, no controller required.

A few weekends ago I wrote some software to treat the Kinectv2 as a head-tracking device, for looking around in Elite Dangerous on PC. Felt pretty immersive. (here I’m looking around a tri-monitor setup, multiplying head movements by 5-10x):

Disclamer: I work at Microsoft, on a AAA game. So I’ve seen what it could do. So much hate and lost potential, for a peripheral you could just turn off.

Edit: No responses yet, but did want to mention that I do get why people were uncomfortable in having a camera in their living room. It was up to Microsoft to pitch the possibilities, and that didn’t happen. A face/voice-recognition that can amp up suspense games based on your heart rate, and knows when you’ve been physically startled, and that every developer knows was shipped so they’ll actually write games for it? sign. me. up.

Edit Edit: Sorry for ranting: the original launch, and subsequent loss of Kinect still stings a bit, and I’m not even doing Kinect stuff at work. :blush:


#5

It might still. I played with a demo at //build/ of the Kinect v2 paired with a Rift. Pretty amazing stuff.


#6

It seems to me that Microsoft is tacitly acknowledging the problem by including women more in their events.

Satya Nadella, who had a notable gaffe about women asking for promotions, gave 3 examples of programmers with big ideas in his keynote speech. 2 were women, and one of those was a teenager.

//Build/ had no booth babes to speak of, although I am not sure if there was a specific policy on this.


#7

Regarding backwards compatibility, it’s more than just when you buy the old game: Microsoft announced at least 100 titles that, if you’ve bought them, you can play them (digital automatically, disc-based just put in the disc).

Rare Replay was a surprise, as was Sea of Thieves. The shift to cell shading was interesting in Gigantic.

Most importantly, I also wanted to note that you touched on a lot of the same highlights that stood out to me. Good article. :smile:


#8

It’s not a fecking hologram! :rage:


#9

That “Gigantic” does look lovely. Thanks for sharing.


#10

The thing about Kinect was that Microsoft frankly did a poor job of selling it initially. (Although I say this as someone working in PC games who was following it with interest.) I remember the early videos showing hypothetical examples of how it might be used and they were silly, unlikely and didn’t look like much fun. (“In a racing game, you could play as virtual pit crew! Look at these people pretending to change a tire!” “Oh. Yay?”) As a developer it wasn’t entirely obvious what it was realistically capable of doing and how well it actually worked. They needed some good games designed around it by people who really knew the strengths and limitations. If there were any, I missed them. Given the frequent economic necessity for AAA games to be cross-platform, designing around an idiosyncratic input method available on only one platform means you’re doing a platform exclusive without any actual exclusive deal, which isn’t very economically appealing. So it seems like what we ended up with was a lot of half-assed add-on support for games not designed around it, which just made it seem even more unnecessary.


#11

They’re doing the same thing now trying to sell the Rift - did you see Microsoft’s demo of it’s amazing capabilities?

(Allows the player to stream xbox games to a virtual tv in an ugly and boring virtual room).

Meanwhile, the speech itself was streamed out to that rift drive in theatre app that let hundreds of people watch it on their rifts, surrounded by and able to talk with the other people about what was happening. The best way to watch the demo was many times better than the actual demo!


#12

Oh thank god, I was worried Microsoft wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon of letting me spend my money on wishes and promises of a game.


#13

Yup, exactly what I was saying. So many missed opportunities, I’m glad the org is under new leadership.


#14

I don’t play shmups but I will probably watch the shit out of Cuphead LPs on YouTube. That is some great-looking animation.


#15

Cuphead looks like Fleischer Brothers animation, not Disney. They were rivals.



#16

Don’t forget Felix The Cat and the Squirrel Nut Zipper’s incredible tribute to that age of animation;

As fer e3, they may not have gone on about Kinect but they were sure using the kinect only voice commands a lot to remind us that we really should bug our homes for that star trek computer command function.

What I have taken away from this whole hoohah is that we should be super excited about; Doom, Starwars Battlefront (even though we’ll eventually be gouged senseless), Cuphead, and backwards compitibility (which is great news for hoarders and would be archivers of old games despite people going “Guh! Old games? Chuh! Ffft!”).


#17

The funny thing is - people bought up the PS4 camera in droves, and actively started streaming videos of themselves playing videogames (or… other things) right from the start. What annoyed me the most about the pre-launch Kinect press was the whole “OMG Microsoft is going to be spying on you 24/7 with your Kinect” angle. So ridiculous. I love using voice commands with my Kinect, it’s awesome, though I don’t use it as much as I thought I would - “XBox On”, “Xbox go to Netflix” and “Xbox Pause” are my main 3.


#19

The shilling level here is amazing. So PRISM is still a thing, the ugly NSA blowup just happened some months ago, with the Kapersky mess and the recently chip firmware backdoors, etc… and you people are totally OK with having a 24/7 camera and a mic at home that’s only licensed to you by one of the heartless data-mining customer-milking tech mega-corps with the poorest ethical record ever? Mattel with it’s barbie’s spy-cam it’s literally just a toy. Save time and go directly to room 101 please. /tinfoil hat


#20

Yup, totally fine with it. Because, at BEST, if they decide to spy on me they’re going to see me sitting there watching TV or playing video games. Or they might be able to overhear my kids playing legos elsewhere in the room. Though for the other roughly 22-23 hours a day, they’re going to see a picture of my couch, since my XBox lives in our secondary TV room that also doubles as a play room for the kids.

Also, plenty of people already carry around a camera and mic with them everywhere they go, thanks to ubiquitous smartphone technology.


#21

See I have an xbox one with kinect. And if I walk into the room and say “xbox on” it will, about 1/3 of the time, turn on. And that is just useless, so I don’t do that anymore.

I, personally, bought it after it was optional, and it only cost $50, and I figured it was pretty much a dead end, and I had experienced the unreliability of the voice commands already, and knew it would probably have some trouble with my non-three-meter-empty-cube-with-couch-directly-in-front-of giant-tv living room, but thought it would be fun to try out some of the dancing games with the kids… and it was. But man, that’s a very long list of allowances I made.

I really don’t think the problem is the selling. Its that the device just isn’t good enough.