Category Archives: Xbox

No Xbox Live support for 1 year

Telkom have done it again. What a bunch of “Proudly” South African idiots. MS was in talks with them about ensuring a good Live experience for the local Launch (which is scheduled for midnight on Friday the 29th September at Rage), and I guess they didn’t go so well. Telkom and Multichoice. Two South African companies completely messing up my life through pig-headed stupidity and greed! Proudly South African, whatever!

SA Live users will still be able to access Live, like I do currently, but we won’t have any official support. Doesn’t look like we’ll be able to pay for the Live subscription in Rands either, which sucks!

I’m getting tired of unfinished games…….

I’m seeing an alarming trend of games arriving on the shelves in a terribly unfinished state. This has been an issue with PC games for a while, with patches arriving almost immediately after release. The problem seems even worse on Xbox 360 however. Three of my favorite games so far have all had horrible problems out of the box, and releasing patches on Xbox Live takes a lot longer than for PC, where the developer can just post it on their own site for download. Everything has to go through rigorous certification etc before it will make it onto the Live servers, so in the end, the gamers (like me) suffer for much longer. It would be nice if part of this certification process included basic bug checking.

I’m not refering to small problems here that only a small percent of users will ever notice. The two worst examples so far are to be found in Call of Duty 2 and MotoGP 06. CoD2 was pretty much unplayable on multiplayer until the patch came out about 4 months after release. It was VERY laggy, there was no game lobby etc, it was aweful. Thankfully, the patch fixed all that, but this was a terrible problem. Maybe Activision thought everyone would be so involved in the single player campaign they wouldn’t notice that multiplayer didn’t work?? I don’t know, but that was just plain shoddy. MotoGP 06, which is also a great game, just locks up the console whenever you try to see your friends lap times. Full lock up. You have to cycle power. How did it get through QA like this? Apparently it only happens if you have more than 25 people on your friends list, but still! Really pathetic. This is made even worse because the actual game is so good.

I might have to start waiting until I see that Service Pack 1 is out for each game before buying it. Sad!

-EDIT- I sent an email very similar to what I wrote above to Major Nelson, and he said he would pass it on to some folks around his office. Hopefully this problem will get better in the future.

-UPDATE- A patch was released for MotoGP 06 which has fixed the Friends Lap Time issue.

No original XBox Extender Support in Vista

I’ve been hearing that Vista won’t support Xbox 1 Media Center Extenders, and that support of old HP and Linksys devices is also questionable. Whoa! That sucks. Obviously Xbox 306 will be supported, but I LOVE my Xbox 1 Extender. Not only was it cheap, but it works brilliantly, and the remote is probably the best I’ve ever used. Getting another 360 to be used as an extender is a possiblility after a price drop or two, but the remote isn’t nearly as good as the older black one, and it can’t run Xbox Media Center for playing Divx files. Oh well……. I’m bummed, but not bummed as I would be if I had dropped $400 on a Linksys or HP device!

-Edit- I wrote to Matt Goyer (who works on the Media Center dev team) about this, and he confirmed that there will be zero support in Vista for old extenders. He didn’t give any reasons, but it was nice of him to reply I suppose.

Xbox Live TrueSkill System

I have heard a lot about the new XBOX 360 Trueskill ranking system, and decided to try and find out a bit more about it. After jumping 10 ranks after coming second in my first race of PGR3, my ranking up has slowed significantly. I wasn’t sure how this process worked, but I know now, and here it is for anyone who is interested.

All XBOX 360 games use the trueSkill Ranking system. This serves 2 purposes. It tugs at the competitive nature in all of us to get better and better, and thus actually see our ranking increase, and it enables better and fairer match making for multiplayer games. Playing against people much better than you, or much worse isn’t that much fun. No one likes just getting shot up all the time, or only seeing your opponents in a racing game up to the first corner before he leaves you in the dust. If possible, the TrueSkill system will match you up with people close to your own ranking, which should result in some good gaming.

From what I believe, there are 30 levels in the Trueskill system. When you first start playing a game, your level will be 1. Some games show your level in the game’s lobby. Level 30 means you are a machine, and nobody must mess with you. The system that determines your ranking uses 2 numbers to get to it. The first number is your actual ranking, which is 1 when you start. The second number is the systems certainty of your ranking, which is kind of inverted, meaning a high certainty variable means the system is not very certain of you. Let me explain it via an example. You have just loaded PGR3 for the first time. Your Ranking is 1, which is the lowest. The system has no idea how good you are though, since it is your first race, so the certainty variable is high. Lets assume you are Kimi Raikkonen and you win your first race. Because your certainty variable is very high, you will jump many ranks and now you may be a rank 8. You win your next race also, but now the system is a little more certain of you, so you only jump up 5 ranks, to level 13. Your next race, some idiot takes you out early on and you finish 7th. Your ranking will go down quite a few places, since your certainty variable is still high. You may now get to rank 9. As you race more and more, your certainty variable gets smaller and smaller, as the system gets to “know” you. After 100 races, you may be ranked level 20. If you win a race, you won’t rank up very much since the scope for ranking up is smaller because your certainty variable will be much lower. The benefit of this is that a single game won’t effect your ranking very much after you have been playing for a while. A bad loss or a lucky win won’t change things much. If you are consistantly winning against players of a similar rank, you will rank up, but fairly slowly, and likewise if you are consistantly losing.

It’s a good system, and although I wish my rank was higher, I need to consistantly win races to get there. I hope this explains it in a simple way. The people who designed it are hardcore mathematics guys who deal with complex statistics etc, which is a bit beyond me, but at least this should shed some light on the subject for those who are a bit confused as to how it works.

-EDIT- There is a lot more information (which is a lot more technical) now available at the Microsoft Research Trueskill Website.