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[P]
Xbox Live: Ethernet in the living room

By Silent Chris in Technology
Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 06:43:02 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)
Technology

I am fortunate enough to take part in the Xbox Live beta program with a group of friends.  Games brought to the fold include: NFL 2K3, NFL Fever 2003, Re-Volt, and Whacked.  Find out what it's like when Ethernet enters the living room.


What you get

Xbox Live's most visable telemarketer-style headset with a microphone.  Like the headset for the Playstation 2 (that comes with the game SOCOM, there is a single earbud, presumably engineered so you can still hear your friends talking if they're in the same room.  Unlike the Playstation 2 design (which connects the headset to the front panel of the console), Microsoft's headset plugs directly into an plastic extension that fits into one of the controller slots.  The controller interface looks a lot like the various force feedback accessories that appeared for the ill-fated Sega Dreamcast.

The sound quality is adequate, but understandably not phenominal.  There is a fair amount of compression that goes on in voice transmissions, and there can be a delay of 1-3 seconds between speaking and your opponent hearing what you say.  Trash-talking and one-liners work  fine -- active conversations aren't really possible.  This was probably a [good] design decision on the part of Microsoft's Xbox network engineers -- if there's a logjam of packets, gameplay seems to get first priority.  I'd much rather have my game be responsive (and kill someone), then hear first from somebody else (who just killed me).

You also get a full version of Re-Volt (which came out several years ago), an ok racing game that improves somewhat online.  (The beta kit comes with a prerelease version of NFL Fever 2003.  This will probably not be included in the final package).  For your $50, you also get one year access to the Microsoft Xbox Live network.  More on that in a minute.

I set the system up in a fairly simple matter: cable goes to my TV already.  I split cable (you can get your local cable company to do this) so one goes to the TV, and one goes to the cable modem.  I connected the cable modem to a wireless router (I recommend SMC's Barricade).  Lastly, I plugged the Xbox into to one of the router's ports, and set the rest of my network up for wireless.  Voila.  Internet in the living room.

Innovations

Much has been made of Microsoft's decision to include an Ethernet port on the Xbox.  Until now the port has remained dormant, outside of a few determined programmers who have tricked the Xbox into playing "system link" games over the Internet.  The Xbox is not the first console to go online (the original Genesis holds that distinction, with an add-on), nor is it the first console to support an Ethernet adapter (the Dreamcast has an optional, now hard to find, add-on that slides into the modem port).  Microsoft's decision to include an Ethernet adapter as standard, however, will undoubtedly affect future console designs.

The headset features voice masking, which allows players to change their voice to a number of presets (low pitched male, squeaky girl, robot, etc).  This is to allow additional privacy (a girl can go on the network and sound like every other guy, instead of being accosted constantly).  This feature works very well, with no noticable decrease in sound quality or transmission speed.  It can also be used for intimidation purposes (the robot voice, for example, fits aggressive games quite well).

There is no keyboard for the Xbox (and none are supported) so the only communication possible is through voice.  That said, there is really no way to perform any adequate censorship of speech (outside of censoring your onscreen name, which Microsoft calls a GamerTag.  If someone is talking dirty to you, you have one option: you can mute them.  You do this within the game itself.  If you want, you can also mute everyone by pushing the button on top of the interface that connects with the controllers.  Microsoft has made no effort to bleep out words (and I frankly can't blame them).

Like the Playstation 2, most games only have vocal communications coming over the headset, not your main speakers.  Thus, in a situation where you're the only one with a headset in the room, it appears (quite eerily) like you're talking to yourself.

The Xbox Live network and gaming

Signing up for Xbox Live is simple, if not a little intrusive.  You choose a GamerTag (screenname) which identifies you on the network.  You only get one chance to choose your GamerTag, presumably so users carry their reputation around with them instead of making up new ones on the spot.  Make sure to spellcheck.  You also are required to provide demographic information, such as your age and sex.

Along with doing this, you need to provide a credit card number and billing address.  As previously mentioned, your $50 Xbox Live purchase only guarantees you one year of access.  After this, Microsoft plans to charge a fee (the fee is unknown at this time).  The cost of the service is to support Microsoft's  network structure, which requires all game providers to go through Microsoft's servers directly.  Game providers may also ask for an additional fee (for example, for massively multiplayer online games such as EverQuest).

The cornerstone of the experience, gaming on Xbox Live, is a real treat.  Because everyone has broadband, nearly all games are completely lag free.  "Turn-based" sports titles, such as NFL Fever 2003 and NFL 2K3 work extremely well (since there are noticable breaks between plays, the network has time to resync).  Even fast-paced games, like Re-Volt and Whacked (Mario Kart-style racing/combat) are crisp with no noticable slowdown.  As previously mentioned, voice is a bit delayed, but not unmanagable.

Defined skillsets are still in their nascient stages on Xbox Live.  Unlike WarCraft III, that has an established (and effective) means of matching similarly skilled players online, Live's "QuickMatch" and "OptiMatch" levels still have to be fleshed out with different players/skills across the ladder.  Once this ladder has been completed, matching similarly-skilled players, by pushing one button, will be a lot easier (right now, it's too easy to find players who are much greater than your current skillset).

The Xbox Live community (or, more accurately, the Xbox Live beta community) has been surprisingly friendly, responsive, and fun.  Unlike communications on services like Blizzard's Battle.net, people are remarkably civil.  Part of that may be the extra mask of text-only communications being removed (it's a lot harder to say "You're an asshole" to a stranger than typing it).  I've also found players to be more talkative and friendly than in SOCOM (part of the reason might be you can never resort to keyboard communications, like you can in SOCOM's chatrooms).  The service offers a simple buddy list with a neat feature -- you can find out when friends are playing other Xbox Live games online (a small icon appears on your screen).  You can then invite them to your game, have them swap  discs, and join you.

Xbox Live vs. competitors

Microsoft has two major competitors with Xbox Live: Sony and the PC (I'm going to leave Nintendo's GameCube out of this discussion, because very few online games have been announced for the system).  The PC is an estabished competitor, with years of online experience.  Sony is new to the field but powerful, with a 30 million+ Playstation 2 pool.

Let's start with the PC.  For the foreseeable future, PC gaming will continue to thrive.  There are millions of machines out there, and most (if not all) new games, feature some form of online component.  Game series like Quake, Unreal Tournament, EverQuest and WarCraft have finely honed the PC's networked community edge with years of practice.

One of the major benefits of the PC platform, its relative hardware and software openness, is also a major detriment to gaming.  With so many available configurations for game makers to deal with, they always have to accomodate the lowest common denominator.  Carmack can create a new engine that requires the latest GeForce monster chipset to run, but he still has to target gamers with Pentium II 300's and 4 MB video cards for compatibility.  With an established hardware configuration on a console, the designer can tweak and prod his code, knowing every player will have exactly the same strength of processor, memory, etc.  Additionally, the support of only broadband ensures there will be no lag due to a player having a 56K modem.

Sony might be a stronger competitor, even though they initially have an uphill battle.  The Playstation 2 shipped without any network connectivity, so players must buy a network adapter (a 56K modem will be shipping later).  The headset (currently) only comes with SOCOM.  Thus, there is no guarantee that an online Playstation 2 player will be on broadband -- or can even talk to others.  It is difficult to compare performance at this time (very few online games are available for the Playstation 2) but the early consensus is that the speed is comparable, as long as the other player has a decent connection.

A huge point of contention has been the service plans between Microsoft and Sony.  Microsoft has a much more concentrated plan: their servers handle all game traffic at three datacenters (North America, Europe and Asia).  If a datacenter goes down, millions of players can be without access (granted, their datacenters are fairly impressive, so the chances of this happening is slim).  

There are benefits and drawbacks to the "one point of contention" design.  With a single point of contact, all developers can hand server administration off to Microsoft.  Authentication, bandwidth, and (if they like) payment, can also be handed off to Microsoft.  This frees up developers so they don't have to worry about administration after the game is released.  It also sets Microsoft up as the gatekeeper to a large amount of demographic information, something companies like EA are very wary of (none of EA's sports titles for the fall season are Xbox Live-compatible).

The Sony system is a bit more anarchic, but may prove just as successful.  In the Sony model, each developer is responsible for their own administration (similar to PCs).  Individual Playstation 2's can act as servers, but whether or not this will be truely viable technologically remains to be seen.  If a game does not connect, the developer is responsible -- not Sony.  The player can always insert another game, and it should work.  The lack of a consistent hardware configuration (as mentioned previously) may be a big problem, as players are forced to deal with possible lag and communication problems (some machines will be without broadband and headsets).

There are other, ancillary parts to both systems.  Microsoft's system will be subscription-based after one year.  In exchange, developers will be able to offer download add-ons and updates (think mods and new levels) that should breathe new life into old console games.  The downloads will be saved to the hard drive (something Sony does not have out of the box).  Prices for the Xbox Live subscription, and additional costs for extra content, have not yet been revealed.

On the Playstation 2, there are much greater expansion possibilities online, given the built-in "regular" (as opposed to proprietary Xbox controller) USB ports, and a 1394 iLink/Firewire port.  To date, very few peripherals have used these ports.  There is also greater discussion of consistent multiplayer online games that mesh with the PC world, such as EverQuest and Tribes (most Xbox Live discussions talk about games solely on the console).  These Playstation/PC efforts will probably need a hard drive, however -- another optional accessory that does not come out of the box with Playstation 2.

My verdict

My reaction, and my friends' reactions, to Xbox Live has been quite positive.  Clearly, this is the future of gaming, even if Microsoft isn't the sole "winner".  More importantly, it finally gets Ethernet into the living room, enabling a more networked home (early rumors of the PS3 talk about connecting the system to various home appliances).

My advice: check out both Playstation 2's offerings and Xbox Live, even if you're not into video games.  See what you like, and get at least one of them.  From my experience with Xbox Live, you won't be disappointed by this next, logical step in gaming.

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Poll
Which system has the most cohesive online strategy?
o PC 57%
o Playstation 2 13%
o Xbox 29%

Votes: 61
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o NFL 2K3
o NFL Fever 2003
o Re-Volt
o Whacked
o telemarket er-style headset
o SOCOM
o force feedback
o Barricade
o Ethernet port
o determined
o programmer s
o voice masking
o GamerTag
o EverQuest
o WarCraft III
o Battle.net
o Carmack
o GeForce monster chipset
o Also by Silent Chris


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Xbox Live: Ethernet in the living room | 56 comments (50 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
yes, but.. (2.66 / 3) (#5)
by sasquatchan on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 02:03:10 PM EST

what does MS or sony or nintendo have to do with getting high speed internet access into homes ?

Sure, sure, MS partners with a few cable companies or telcos, but really, they aren't responsible at all for it.

While your article may make the distinction (sort of) your title does not.
-- The internet is not here for your personal therapy.

By Creating Demand. (nt) (4.00 / 2) (#6)
by aitrus on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 02:11:13 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Major technological advancement (3.66 / 3) (#7)
by etherdeath on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 02:16:50 PM EST

Find out what it's like when Ethernet enters the living room.
Leave it to Microsoft to breach the veritable no man's land of networked technology.

thank you for inadvertently bashing linux (1.75 / 20) (#9)
by turmeric on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 02:23:44 PM EST

"Carmack can create a new engine that requires the latest GeForce monster chipset to run, but he still has to target gamers with Pentium II 300's and 4 MB video cards for compatibility. With an established hardware configuration on a console, the designer can tweak and prod his code, knowing every player will have exactly the same strength of processor, memory, etc."

now pile on top of that a software layer that is dozens of times more incompatible than the hardware layer , and you have the horrific shifting turd-pile that is linux, and the sad sad state of 'linux gaming'.

which is why microsoft is beating the crap out of linux in the market: microsoft software API interfaces while not always stable-over-time or consistent, at least make an effort to be that. and at least are roughly backwards compatible.

yes they have monopoly deals with hardware vendors and intimidate them and all that. but frankly, that is just a tiny part of what they do that makes their crap successfull.

you do not have to 2#$@#$ with your modeline in your XF86config, you do not have to endure some unix bigot telling you what an idiot you are for 'not wanting to learn that useful information', you are not screamed at for wishing X would come up and detect your mouse properly, etc etc etc.

a little more explanation (2.42 / 7) (#11)
by turmeric on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 02:33:32 PM EST

if a programmer has a stable platform (as in 'doesnt crash' ,,, but mroe importantly as in 'the api doesnt change every damn week, there is a single api not 50, and you have a reasonable chance of a command working on various platforms the same way and appearing/sounding the same to the users') then they can spend less time futzing around with compatibility problems and more time just optimizing and pushing the existing platform.

thats why in some ways a crappy hardware system like the playstation is a better gaming platform than a P1000 running linux: the programmers can RELY on the playstation to do things a certain way, but they cant even rely on different versions of the same distro of linux to even install a damn program properly.

why? because unix people are obsessed with 'flexibility' and 'the unix way: one little thing that odes its job wwell' ignoring the fact that unix was in fact a bunch of little things designed to work together, it is in fact an integrated environment in many ways. . . the 'neat stuff that makes it work right' is mostly due to the integration of all the utilites into some semi-reliable whole, and the annyoing stuff about unix that wastes everyones time (everyone having their own syntax for command,s there being no standard user interface to the commands etc etc etc) is exactly due to this 'flexibility' obsession.

in the end this quest for flexibility is self defeating: you basically cater to nobody because its too damn unreliable and full of misleading documentation, irritating quirks, and no consistency whatsoever. programs become 5% logic and 95% working around comptability issues (like automake, autoconf, etc) when if you just had a 'reasonably good' crap stable base system that everyone could rely on having then you would be in fact, end up more flexibile in the end.

the best example of this is the internet. the 'unix way' of doing the internet is to have hundreds of small networks talknig in their own protocols and having some dirt-encrusted server guy mange thousands of 'translators' to get messages between different networks.

however if you rely on something that sucks, but is extremeyl simple and straightforward, like tcp/ip, and eventually the world wide web protocol: http, a braindead stupid protocol that is absolutely retarded as far as technoloy goes, ........ but simple and straightforward (no wonder a CS person didnt come up with it, a physics person did) ,,,, then you find that in the end this simple straightforward platform that is reliable and consistent, actually enables more flexibility than the old way EVER DID.

another way, consider the old IBM EBCDIC there were many different versions of this encoding for characters. along comes ASCII. it sucks, its limited, but hey, why has it been around 40 years and used billions of times? it turned out to be more flexibile than EBCDIC ever was.

[ Parent ]

Are you OK? (4.50 / 2) (#23)
by quartz on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 04:26:14 PM EST

You're foaming at the mouth.

--
Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
[ Parent ]
Damn trolls... (4.50 / 2) (#12)
by czth on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 02:42:27 PM EST

now pile on top of that a software layer that is dozens of times more incompatible than the hardware layer , and you have the horrific shifting turd-pile that is linux, and the sad sad state of 'linux gaming'.

Are you referring to anything specific, or just flaming?

which is why microsoft is beating the crap out of linux in the market: microsoft software API interfaces while not always stable-over-time or consistent, at least make an effort to be that. and at least are roughly backwards compatible.

In many ways it precisely because Linux (the kernel, and any other major libraries) can drop legacy crap and go forth and do things better that make it better. How long has the baggage of DOS stuck with Windows? Pretty long, and it ain't gone yet.

But at the API level - that is, libc, syscalls, and whatever widget toolkit you use (GTK+ or Qt come to mind, or OpenGL for 3D, which has been around and stable practically forever) - APIs are quite consistent. So please quit your ignorant flaming.

yes they have monopoly deals with hardware vendors and intimidate them and all that. but frankly, that is just a tiny part of what they do that makes their crap successfull.

No, in fact that's most of it. If all HW vendors would write optimized (2D and 3D, say OpenGL) drivers for Linux, then games would run just as fast on Linux as anywhere else.

Oh, and "successful" has one "l", and while I'm on the topic, it's usual in English to capitalize the beginning of sentences.

you do not have to 2#$@#$ with your modeline in your XF86config, you do not have to endure some unix bigot telling you what an idiot you are for 'not wanting to learn that useful information', you are not screamed at for wishing X would come up and detect your mouse properly, etc etc etc.

You seem to already have proven yourself an idiot.... But anyway, the reason why you sometimes do have to tweak modelines and such in Linux is that nobody's written a tool for it, because, frankly, it's not Interesting or fun to program. Actually, some distributions do have autodetect capability, and the X servers will also do fairly good detection of the card in use, if they support it. Windows also, in the guts that no man can see (nor fix when they [frequently] break), has the equivalent of modelines, just they get paid to write pretty config tools.

Personally I'd rather be free, even if it does mean tweaking a few modelines. I don't mind if the ignorant masses want to use Windows; in fact, I'm glad it's there, so said masses stay away from the less drool-proof OSen out there.

- "Some people have too much freedom" - GW Bush

Sure do... the author of the article to which I'm replying springs to mind.

czth

[ Parent ]

OSen isn't a word NT (none / 0) (#30)
by mpalczew on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 07:05:40 PM EST


-- Death to all Fanatics!
[ Parent ]
Yummy... (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by dJCL on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 10:16:55 PM EST

Man, some people here are funny. If you want linux to be hard, it can be. If you want it to be easy, someone has figured out how to(or is in the process of it...). I like linux complex, I use debian or linux from scratch generally on my systems at home, it allows me to poke and fiddle and just waste some time. It's like games, people play them to waste time and maybe increase their reflexes some, I code and mess with OS's to learn and improve some of my thinking abilities(not all).

I also get people who are not computer experts up and running on linux without any problems... I can hand them a copy of my old Corel Linux cd and they will be able to do it all themselves(Going to have to make that Xandros 1.0 now). I can loan them a copy of the Knoppix live eval cd and they can test it all without losing a thing. Mandrake is almost as easy. These versions of linux are there for people who just want to use them, not fiddle, and they work great, automatically setup video, sound and other hardware, and are easy to use(Corel Linux has a nice control center item to change display settings, looks suspiciously similar to the display settings in windows... just as easy to use).

If you want to rant about things, be informed. Linux is not everything, I am typing this in IE on win2k, but it is also nothing.

my sig was too long, and getting annoying, so this is all you get. deal with it.
[ Parent ]

Playstation 2 network adapter is already out.. (4.00 / 2) (#10)
by Skywise on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 02:31:30 PM EST

I have one.  It's both a 56k modem and an ethernet adapter which connects quite nicely to my home network. Although oddly enough, the box of the adapter only talks about the modem and "networking" and not anything about the ethernet connectivity.  In fact, there's a giant yellow sticker covering the  ethernet port that basically screams "don't take this sticker off unless you know what you're doing because you might fry the electronics".  I at first made the erroneous assumption that it was some sort of phone pass through for the modem (to connect to a real phone...maybe for a headset communication) that they didn't want initially used.  The manual makes vague references to the ethernet connection, but not how to hook it up.  (As opposed to the phone line connection which is walked through step by step)  But the manual on the installation software goes into great detail about how to setup the IP address for the ethernet adapter.

The adapter attaches to the back of the PS/2 to the high speed data port (hidden behind the removable panel) and has what appears to be connectors for a typical IDE hard drive bus and a hard drive power supply connector on the inside going into the empty drive bay.  (You would just snap the hard drive onto these connectors and slide the whole thing into the back)

You can configure multiple connection profiles, each with their own settings IP settings and connection parameters (Home-Modem, Home-Network, Work-Network, Bobs-Network, etc) and these are saved on a PS/2 memory card.  When you first load a game, this card must be inserted so that each game can read the profile and ask you how you want to connect.  Then you go to the configuration for each game.  Just like a typical PC game work.

The adapter comes with 3 working demos.  Madden online, Frequency, and one other whose name escapes me at the moment.

Played Madden on broadband against a 56k player...  There were a few small lag times, but for the most part everything ran smoothly.  (I got my butt seriously kicked).

The lack of a unified system (ala XBox) will hinder development of universal attachments like the talking headset.  But on the flip side, I'm free to connect to whom I want to connect without paying an additional service fee to a third party.

Tony Hawk 4 (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by steveftoth on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 03:07:37 PM EST

One strange thing is that TH4 will only support network play on the Playstation 2.  It already supports it in the ps2 version (TH3).   I don't know why EA did this except to get back at MS for some strange reason.

[ Parent ]
Different company (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by Silent Chris on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 03:14:22 PM EST

Tony Hawk is by Activision.

[ Parent ]
Whoops... (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by steveftoth on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 03:51:58 PM EST

well, someday activision will be owned by EA. :)

[ Parent ]
Driver Layers (none / 0) (#29)
by LukeyBoy on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 07:02:49 PM EST

The Tony Hawk developers (NeverSoft for the PS2) wrote their own driver layer for networking, which (1 year ago) was compatible with dial-up modems, cable Internet and DSL (even PPPoE).

The USB drivers in this layer were coded in house too, and I highly doubt they want to port the USB and TCP/IP stack to other platforms.

[ Parent ]

IT has nothing to do with drivers. (none / 0) (#51)
by steveftoth on Thu Oct 24, 2002 at 04:15:06 PM EST

And everything to do with MSes X-Box live service.  For some reason, they decided that TH$ will only support multiplayer over the local lan and not over the 'internet'.  Who knows why they did this?  Only Activision.

[ Parent ]
Something of interest (5.00 / 2) (#19)
by theboz on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 03:20:58 PM EST

I reviewed using the PS2 adapter here.

I do disagree with you completely about the "networking" functionality. That is ethernet, and it goes through and tells you how to set up your machine or use DHCP or whatever. Perhaps if you don't know how to configure this stuff on a computer, it won't make much sense there either, but anyone with rudimentary knowledge of setting up a PC to use a network will have no problem with the PS2.

As far as the sticker covering the RJ-45 connection, it is there because there are a lot of idiots that plug RJ-11 (phone cords) into their network cards and wonder why they can't dial into AOL. In fact, Sony made a special way of setting up the adapter for AOL users as well.

When it comes to the usage of the profile on the memory card, I never remove mine to begin with. Most games require those to save data, so I just leave one in for PS2 games, and one for PSX games in the other port. I have 15 games and still have plenty of room for all the saved games and the network config, so there's no reason for me to switch it out.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

No no no... (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by Skywise on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 06:37:14 PM EST

I wasn't complaining about the software installation and setup of my networking.  That was fine (except for the joystick keyboard entry, but whatcha gonna do...).  I was complaining about the lack of documentation regarding hardware setup documentation for ETHERNET, or the very fact that ethernet is on this adapter to begin with.

It's not on the packaging, the paper manual is very vague about what to do with it and the sticker actively disuades novice users from messing with the port.  Which is probably what Sony wants anyway, but I found that odd.  I have several friends who are big video gamers, run Windows XP and have DSL, but would obey the labelling and not pull the sticker off to discover the ethernet port underneath, even though they have just enough techincal expertise to set the network up, and the software would've been a breeze from there.

Once I took the sticker off and figured out that I really DID have an ethernet adapter everything went together easily.  (Except for me trying to figure out how to hook it up to my wireless network without spending more bucks on another hub...)  (No, I can't get broadband because I'm in a galactically unique dead zone where 4, FOUR!!, calling offices are equidistantly greater than 20000 feet from me... So my wireless network is faster than my modem speed...)

I don't pull my card out either, I just pointed that out for details sake.

[ Parent ]

Uphill battles. (4.00 / 2) (#14)
by steveftoth on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 02:55:30 PM EST

you say that Sony has an uphill battle, because you have to go and buy the network adaptor, but I would say that XBox has the larger uphill battle.  Why?  because the installed base of the playstation 2 is much much larger then the X-Box.

I don't know hard numbers, but I would be willing to bet that the number of people who have both a playstation 2 and a network adaptor outnumber the number of people who will play games online with the X-Box.  Figuring that anyone who has a playstation 2 and a network adaptor will play on line, but not everyone who has a X-Box will play online.  Only in america can this succeed because in other parts of the world, the X-Box is not selling.  

Modem.... (4.50 / 2) (#15)
by steveftoth on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 03:06:06 PM EST

The first 'console' modem
The nintendo had a modem as well, and if you consider some of the ealier atari computers as consoles, then they had modems as well. This modem didn't allow you to play games, but rather do banking functions. It was only released in Japan.
As a side note, in Japan the NES also had a disk drive!
Another modem
This one was a poorly marketed one that probably died due to bad business on their part. Follow the link for more info.
2600 modem info
Yes, even the 2600 had a modem for it, and you could even download games over the phone! So this service has existed since basically games were born. Take that Yahoo gaming! Though I don't think that you could play over the network. I mean come on, the 2600 didn't have a frame buffer, and you expect network play? ;)

I realize nobody cares... (2.75 / 12) (#17)
by mcherm on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 03:14:00 PM EST

I realize nobody cares, but I'm boycotting the Xbox. Not that it's a bad system, I just don't want to help out in handing M$ yet another monopoly (although they may have to fight for this one).

-- Michael Chermside
God shut up (2.11 / 9) (#24)
by DeadBaby on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 04:30:43 PM EST

Grow up.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
[ Parent ]
I don't think that was called for. (5.00 / 2) (#40)
by mcherm on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 09:49:30 AM EST

I was expressing my OWN opinion, and modifying my OWN behavior. I was NOT whining about how I thought YOU should behave. As trollificus correctly pointed out, I shouldn't have used "M$", but other than that, I think it was a reasonable and mature approach to things.

Deal with those you want to, taking into account MORE than just the cost and quality of the product. And speak up occasionally when you have a reason to boycott someone, so that if others are similarly inclined they can choose (on their own) to do the same.

-- Michael Chermside
[ Parent ]

Right back at you (none / 0) (#49)
by the coose on Thu Oct 24, 2002 at 11:26:27 AM EST

It's perfectly reasonable for one to boycott the products of a company one dislikes for whatever reason. In fact, it's the best way to send a message to the company. Protest with your purse.

[ Parent ]
You're out of your element (3.50 / 2) (#25)
by theboz on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 05:04:31 PM EST

Sony makes Microsoft look like Richard Stallman. Seriously, the video game market doesn't work the same as the PC market. The fact that Microsoft has even the small share of the video game market that it does right now is truly amazing, since Nintendo and Sony, who have been building video game consoles for a while now, are ten times more evil than Microsoft could ever dream of becoming. I imagine Microsoft's video game project will work just slightly better their ISP project. MSN has barely made a dent in AOL, and I expect the video game market to turn out in much the same way.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Microsoft != RMS (3.50 / 2) (#31)
by pin0cchio on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 09:01:10 PM EST

Sony makes Microsoft look like Richard Stallman.

Funny you should mention Stallman. Who sells copies of a GNU OS to owners of its game console? Sony (Linux for PS2).

Who publicly admits that its official console development kit is based on GNU Compiler Collection? Nintendo (WarioWorld GBA devkit, available to licensed developers).

Who puts pretty much no protection on its game media? Nintendo (GBA does only a simple header check on carts).

Who tacitly approves of a $30 cable used to put small user-created programs on a game console? Nintendo (even after suing Lik-Sang, N still let the Hong Kong company sell MBV2 cables).

Who actively supported the same thing for one of its consoles? Sony (Net Yaroze).

So who's Stallman now?


lj65
[ Parent ]
Hmm? (none / 0) (#35)
by squigly on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 05:10:13 AM EST

Not quite sure what the GNU references are about.  Sony sells Linux because they can make money from it.  Nintendo uses GNU tools because they're cheaper than producing from scratch.

MS are preventing people from doing stuff to their console, because they're still making a loss on it.  The other console manufacturers made sure they were making a profit on the hardware before selling something that might encourage people to buy the things for a single piece of software.  

Remember Bleem?  Sony weren't too please with that were they?  

[ Parent ]

Heh... (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by theboz on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 08:50:46 AM EST

I'd say that you have been trolled, but it's by Sony and Nintendo who make you think they are good guys. Remember how Sony sued that guy for modifying the code that runs his Aibo and putting information about it on the internet? There are plenty of cases like that. You even admitted that Nintendo sued Lik-Sang, and used that to somehow show that they are good guys. Yeah, they might sell linux or use gnu tools, but it's purely for profit, not to be nice. If it were cheaper for them to use another set of programs, they would.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

You lost my attention... (4.14 / 7) (#26)
by Trollificus on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 05:32:39 PM EST

...the moment you flashed the dollar sign.

"The separation of church and state is a fiction. The nation is the kingdom of God, period."
--Bishop Harold Calvin Ray of West Palm Beach, FL
[ Parent ]

when ethernet enters the living room? (4.00 / 2) (#20)
by aphrael on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 03:36:32 PM EST

i've had ethernet in the living room for close to a decade now.

I have ethernet (2.09 / 11) (#21)
by dr k on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 03:49:51 PM EST

in my pants.


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

Unfortunately (2.33 / 3) (#45)
by Silent Chris on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 11:55:56 AM EST

That's all you have in your pants.

[ Parent ]
See Also playstation 2 article. (4.00 / 2) (#27)
by mcc on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 06:34:31 PM EST

Just so you know, there was a kuro5hin article on the Playstation 2 internet adapter a little while back. You may want to read that as well.

---
Aside from that, the absurd meta-wankery of k5er-quoting sigs probably takes the cake. Especially when the quote itself is about k5. -- tsubame
The problem... (4.66 / 3) (#33)
by dissonant on Tue Oct 22, 2002 at 10:58:36 PM EST

...with ethernet in the living room is getting it there. I've had a cable modem for about 3 years now. It's installed in the home office on the second floor. I also own an X-Box, and was invited to participate in the beta program but declined because I didn't want to tear up my house to run CAT-5 from the office downstairs and about 75 feet away to the complete opposite side of the house to play a game.

If MS and Sony are smart, they'll produce wireless adapters.

power drill (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by dirvish on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 01:23:51 AM EST

I drilled holes through the walls of my apartment. Probably won't get my deposit back...although I hear toothpaste works miracles.

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
[ Parent ]
Try plaster (nt) (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by pattern against user on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 08:40:46 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Hello? (1.66 / 3) (#41)
by SPYvSPY on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 10:29:54 AM EST

I was accepted into the XBOX Live beta the other day. I got my kit last night, bought a 100ft CAT5 cable, ran it from my XBOX right across the living room floor, into my bedroom, over my bed, across my desk and into my DSL modem. When my roommate came home and tripped over the cable, I didn't even look up, because I WAS PLAYING FUCKING XBOX LIVE! Of course, I will clean up this cable later with tie-strips and by running it along baseboards, but the point is that if you are worried about sullying your home with cable, you are a fucking poser.
------------------------------------------------

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[ Parent ]

let me guess (2.00 / 5) (#43)
by dirtmerchant on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 11:21:32 AM EST

you have about 2 weeks worth of dirty dishes and greasy pizza boxes scattered throughout your house. haven't washed the clothes you're currently wearing for at least 3 rotations (and the last time you did, it was at mommie's place). and i'm going out on a limb with this one, if you do have an s.o. she's either as slovenly fat and filthy as you, or she can't stand the site of your filthy mug and is cheating on you with every tom, dick, and harry she comes in contact with. grow up. not shitting where you eat is an evolutionary trait of most higher mammals. it does not make you a poser.
-- "The universe not only may be queerer than we think, but queerer than we can think" - JBS Haldane
[ Parent ]
Hilarity ensues... (1.60 / 5) (#47)
by SPYvSPY on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 12:40:20 PM EST

...this response is too funny, if you could only see my apartment.

I pay $3600/month for a 2000 sq.ft. loft in Manhattan's East Village. My living room consists of brick walls on three sides, with floor to ceiling windows covering the entire wall facing the street. In the center of the room is my 11ft x 11ft persian rug, bordered by two large brick-red Italian couches. Across from the couches is a 40" Samsung LCD back projection TV, flanked by 5ft. tall JBL floorstanding speakers. The XBOX, GameCube, Dreamcast and one of my PS2s are tucked neatly into some nice little free-standing drawers that I bought at the MoMA store. On the wall next to the TV is an 8ft x 10ft mirror with a baroque gold-leafed border. A few Ikea stools are placed randomly throughout the room and by the window to accomodate the frequent parties/get-togethers at my home. A few large plants 'really bring the room together' (to quote the Big Lebowski). The room is lit by halogen track lights (with the excellent Chinese bulbs with spectrum effects), and is otherwise empty and clean. The general cleanliness is enhanced by weekly visits from my lovely Polish cleaning lady. A major source of clutter, the various console controllers, are neatly tucked into wicker baskets that slide out of view under the television stand. In fact, the only loose wire in the whole place is the XBOX CAT5 cable, which is, as I said, going stealth shortly.

The other rooms in my home are equally tasteful, clean and would probably make you one of those well-meaning (but pathetic) people that spends all night complimenting my apartment when I have a party.

Too bad you're not invited.
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[ Parent ]

Go with a bridge (4.50 / 2) (#48)
by ghackmann on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 05:31:27 PM EST

You want an Ethernet/802.llb bridge. Run an Ethernet cable from your console to the bridge, and you're good to go. They're not cheap, but neither are 802.11b cards.

[ Parent ]
haha (4.00 / 2) (#36)
by boxed on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 05:10:21 AM EST

Microsoft has made no effort to bleep out words
You americans are funny I must say. Bleeping out words? What a totally silly idea!

PS2 and XBOX adapters are more similar than not (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by cgenman on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 08:14:04 AM EST

I'm not a Beta tester for XBOX live, but I am a daily user and will decline to state in exactly what context.  However, I must say that I am absolutely convinced that broadband gaming is worth more than 50 dollars per year (and that you will wind up paying a lot more than 50 dollars per year).  

Silly headset aside, XBOX live and PS2's online capabilities are functionally identical, with the exception of the modem.  Most people don't have broadband access for either financial or logistical reasons, so having a dial-up adapter is important.  That aside, XBOX live and the PS2 adapter feel identical during gameplay.  The PS2 does seem to lag / lose framerate slightly more than the X, but then that seems to be true of all games, online or otherwise.  Trash talking is a neat feature if you are playing with people that you know, but generally not my forte.  

But it really is a blast.  Don't just think about one-on-one gaming... think about 4 on 4 roving teams scouring the countryside for competition.  Think about getting together with your friends and instead of playing party games against eachother, ganging up and trying to take someone else out.  Think of opponents who not only react intelligently and unpredictably, but who are willing to teach you to be a better opponent.  Think about games where, unlike computers, your console opponent doesn't have any way of cheating.

Is this going to be Microsoft's Ace in the hole?  I doubt it.  The biggest use of these adaptors in the US is going to be sports games, and all of the major sports players have announced support for both the PS2 and the XBox.  The PS2 also doesn't have a recurring yearly fee.  And while the development company has to host the servers for PS2 games they create, that does give them more intimate control over the gaming experience as well as the potential for advertising revenue.  OK, so maybe that's a benefit of the Microsoft way.  Either way, so far the PS2's here have been functionally equivalent to the XBOX.  And both, of course, require an additional investment in hardware and networking.  

If I were willing to support Microsoft's intended monopolization (Nintendoization?) of the videogame market I would probably buy an XBOX and a network adapter.  But I'm not, and I haven't.  For the time being, I'm satisfied with PC based online games and single location console games.  The 850 dollar yearly cost (200 for 4 games, 50 for the adaptor / subscription, 600 for broadband) might seem a little steep, but once you already have decent access it doesn't seem quite that unreasonable.  Overall, I think we just may be looking at the next generation of gaming.

And it may be until the next generation of gaming that enough people have decent access.

As for the gentleman with the problem getting ethernet to the living room...  You've never slung wire from one house / building / dormatory to another, have you?  I can assure you, you may be squeamish about taping wires to you celing, but your kids are not.  And until such a time (in the near future) that ethernet ports are as common as phone ports in new houses, those little black wires taped over doorways are a symbol of prowess, not an eyesore.  
- This Sig is a mnemonic device designed to allow you to recognize this author in the future. This is only a device.

Biggest problems with XBOX Live... (4.00 / 3) (#42)
by SPYvSPY on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 10:47:43 AM EST

..I have played XBOX Live for exactly one day now, and these are my observations:

1) To my huge disappointment, there is not, and will not be, any Halo over XBOX Live. Halo 2 will probably work online, but it has a release date of November 2003. The only half-decent substitute is Unreal Championship (is this the same as UT 2003?), which is being released November 12 of this year. Meanwhile, us beta testers have the extreme displeasure of being limited to MotoGP and NFL Fever. Can I express to you the total anti-climax of getting online finally and playing fucking football and that boring but beatiful motocycle game?! Bleh.

2) The headset is just plain odd. I expected the online conversation to be something like the text conversations at the end of Q3A (e.g., "good game", "fags", "fucking campers"). To my astonishment, the XBOX Live conversation is absurdly civil and polite. Most of the people online right now are about ten to thirteen years old (as evidenced by one gamer's compulsion to tell us every time his 'mom' entered the room), and are busy...get this...helping each other out with mastering the MotoGP. No one swore. No one insulted each other. It was just frightening to me. So frightening, in fact, that I was unable to break the threshold and troll these poor saps. Their voices were just too sugary-sweet and innocent and vulnerable, even when digitally-enhanced to sound like death-dealing robots. I felt like such a jerk, because my first impulse was to say: "Your mom is in your room? That's funny, because she's sucking my dog's dick right in front of me right now." (BTW, at 29 years old, I have about twenty years on most of these tikes, but when I was 9, I was a foul mouthed little motherfucker, so...hrmph). One thing you will never hear on XBOX Live is "damn lag". The games were super-smooth. I did notice that one game of MotoGP suddenly moved me from last place to first, and after about ten seconds of fooling me into thinking I was winning, announced that the connection had dropped. Whatever.
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Halo (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by Silent Chris on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 11:54:16 AM EST

I was under the impression (and I think everyone else is under the impression) that Halo will never work on Xbox Live.  It's pretty darn clear.  The games that say Xbox Live-Enabled work.  Games from the system's introduction, without the logo, don't.

As for civility, I'm all for it.  I've found quite a few older gamers (it's a weird mix right now, because there are only 10-20 thousand beta testers), and they too treat each other with respect.  If you want to "troll", may I suggest going back to binding text keys in Quake III?  (Although, it really wouldn't matter anyway -- I mute anyone I think is a jerk on Xbox Live).

[ Parent ]

It's not that I want to troll... (1.50 / 2) (#46)
by SPYvSPY on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 12:27:05 PM EST

...I just cant help it. It's part of what makes me who I am. It's a glorious disease.
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[ Parent ]

voice and civility (3.66 / 3) (#53)
by Shren on Fri Oct 25, 2002 at 01:44:36 PM EST

One of the things about flaming on the net is that you don't really see the target's reactions, and thus there's no connection of empathy. Let's say that I'm a K5 user, and I flame another K5 user. Even if they say "you hurt my feelings", I don't see it in thier face, or hear it in thier voice. I am disconnected. In this medium I could say things that accidently ruin a 10 year old's month and not even realize it. I wouldn't feel bad untill somehow it was made real to me. The empathy part of my brain doesn't believe all of you exist (sorry). Not really. I know you do exist, but it's faces and voices that create the connection. I smile at the baby, it smiles back, and we affect each other's chemistry. None of you have ever smiled at me. Ya can't.

Now, if you flame some 10 year old while playing XBox Live, you might hurt his feelings. If you hurt his feelings, he might start to cry. Can you imagine hearing that? A constant steam of sobs rendered digitally and delivered straight to your ear? Made even more pitiful by being a litte boy's tears rendered through the "scary robot" audio transform? I'd feel bad for a week, maybe a month.

Arguing online in text is so emotionally detached that we have trolls that do it for fun. Compare real life. Say I write an essay on something. I could take it to 20 people in real life, give it to them, and they'd say, "Oh, it's pretty good" and avoid hurting my feelings. Put the same essay online, 20 random people who have no emotional connection to my self esteem, and if my essay's bad I'll be told. Harshly. Visit K5's edit queue. Try to imagine giving that level of scathing criticism to somebody's face.

It'd be interesting to get a really big server with the bandwidth pipe of god and replace all of the text with voice in a K5 like enviornment. I'm sure people would behave differently.

[ Parent ]

Beta tester ages (4.00 / 1) (#54)
by acronos on Sat Oct 26, 2002 at 09:06:46 PM EST

My observations differ from yours.  All of the beta testers who's ages I discovered were over 20.  I have met only a few in the games that I thought were under 20.  I am in my 30's.  Compared with most other games I've played, the microsoft beta test is very tame when it comes to immaturity.  

[ Parent ]
Patches to existing games? (none / 0) (#50)
by gauntlet on Thu Oct 24, 2002 at 12:27:39 PM EST

I have an X-Box, and I have Morrowind. I have a problem. :)

I love the game, but I hate the fact that it crashes. What I want to know is whether or not X-Box Live will give you the ability to download patches to your harddrive that the games will load when needed.

Alternately, shouldn't Bethesda have to come out with some sort of free fixed version?

Into Canadian Politics?

Morrowind (none / 0) (#52)
by j1mmy on Thu Oct 24, 2002 at 09:02:11 PM EST

I have a PC and I have Morrowind. Patched. It still crashes. There's an expansion coming out in the near future. Maybe that will fix it for me. You're probably out of luck, though.

[ Parent ]
Bummer. (none / 0) (#55)
by gauntlet on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 04:41:07 PM EST

Well that makes me feel better,at least. And for the time being, I seem to be doing OK with the suggested workaround, which is turning off auto-save, saving your game and reloading the saved game every couple of hours.

Whatever. I'm 1500 Septims away from purchasing a stronghold, I'm a Redoran House Cousin, I'm a level 9 Nord Barbarian, and I have yet to follow a single step in the main plot-line. I'll put up with a couple of technical glitches, because the game still kicks ass.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Morrowind on Xbox (none / 0) (#56)
by Silent Chris on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 03:36:21 PM EST

This is the only game that I've gotten to consistently crash on the console, and I'm convinced it's just bad code.  Too bad they can't release an "updated edition" with better stability.

[ Parent ]
Xbox Live: Ethernet in the living room | 56 comments (50 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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