Archive for the ‘XBox’ category

Bungie confirms XBox 360 backward compatibility for Halo 2

September 23rd, 2005

343 Guilty SparkOver on Bungie.net Frankie completes his report on the Tokyo Game Show. He confirms backward compatibility for Halo 2 on the XBox 360, and states that there will be more details on this topic coming soon. He also alludes to a built-in game on the new console. Finally, he tells us that there may be surprises coming soon. I’ve quoted the relevant sections here.

“Thing is, watching the video at the keynote of the first 360 sliding off the production line, I thought, ‘Why can’t we have ours now?’ I mean, come on. Where’s the harm? I would just keep it in my house and load it up with my CD collection. And maybe play the built-in game. Or some Halo 2. Which works on the system thanks to the magic of backward compatibility. Anyway, apparently the answer to my early 360 question is a resounding ‘no.’ Jerks.”

“We have some cool stuff coming up for you in the next couple of weeks, including a tour of our new offices, a look (well, maybe more of a discussion) at Halo 2 running on 360, so look out for that. And you never know, there may be some surprises between now and then.”

Candidates for the surprises are:

  • Halo movie news – director, actors?
  • Details of the next project that Bungie are already working on – Halo 3, Pimps at Sea, GNOP360?
  • Confirmation that Halo 3 will be a launch title for the XBox 360 (I wish!)

Maybe there’ll be more details in this week’s update.

Project Gotham Racing 3 Screenshot

July 1st, 2005

Major Nelson points to this from Bizzare Creations relating to a screenshot they posted of Project Gotham Racing 3 – which will run on the XBox 360. Many people couldn’t believe the image, which can be seen on Major Nelson’s blog. It looks so real, it looks like a photograph! But apparently, it is in fact an in-game image. To prove this, Bizzare show the wireframe version of the same image, and show a second screenshot too.

While this is pretty impressive, these are static images, taken from a game engine still in development. While Bizzare have put a lot of time, resources, and effort into creating these fabulous looking art assets, it remains to be seen how well these can be rendered as you’re driving down those streets at 200 kmh!

AnandTech compares the XBox 360 and the PS3

June 27th, 2005

Anandtech have a discussion comparing the XBox 360 with the PS3 (mentioned by Major Nelson). The article is quite lengthy, and goes into some detail on the comparisons between the two consoles. They think that it will take some time for developers to take advantage of the two different architectures. This means shifting to true mutli-threaded game engines on the XBox 360, and harnessing the full power of the PS3’s SPE units in the Cell CPU.

The differing GPU architectures will also require developers to change how they work to take full advantage of new features. The XBox 360 Xenos GPU can dynamically adjust between processing geometry to processing pixels, which does offer the potential to have higher polygon counts and thus more detailed geometry. The PS3’s GPU can provide output at up to 1080p, which offers some advantage over the XBox 360. While presently few people will be able to take advantage of this high resolution, over the next few years displays that can handle this will become more common.

Overall, both machines are powerful, but will take some adjusting for developers to take full advantage of the new features of each machine. The XBox 360 has gone for a more cost-conscious design, with money saved by not including the extras that the PS3 will include (more USB ports, media card readers, HDMI video connectors, Gigbit ethernet ports). The choice of Blu-ray discs for the PS3 will give developers over 23GB of storage at a minimum, but the extra cost and ongoing debate over standards mean that the XBox 360’s choice of standard 12x DVD drive offers a lower risk option.

In the end of the day, I think that it will boil down to the games, since both machines will be very powerful, though different. XBox 360 developers will potentially have a couple of months lead on PS3 developers in getting the most out of their games. However, the games still need to be good games first and foremost, and not just technical demos of GPU power. Roll on Halo 3 :)

NVIDIA technology licensed by Microsoft for XBox 360 to assist backwards compatibility

June 18th, 2005

Eurogamer are reporting that Microsoft have licenced technology from NVIDIA to assist with backwards compatibility for the XBox 360. Since the original XBox used an NVIDIA GPU, while the XBox 360 uses an ATI chipset, this was always going to be one of the main problems in getting backwards compatibility to work. Microsoft seem to have solved this part of the puzzle, though at a price – they’ll have to pay licencing fees to NVIDIA for some years to come.

Major Nelson tries out Halo 2 on an Xbox 360

June 18th, 2005

HBO reports that Major Nelson has tried out Halo 2 on an XBox 360 – and he couldn’t tell the difference :) The man himself talks about it on his blogcast of the 12th of June.

Ars Technica continues their inspection of the Xenon CPU

June 2nd, 2005

In the second part of their article on the Xenon CPU that will power the XBox 360, Ars Technica delve into the technical details of the three cores within the CPU, discussing the potential impact their design will have on the performance of games written for the next-gen console.

The article highlights that the design of the Xenon, while great for streaming media, has potential pitfalls when it comes to code that requires more branches, such as game control, AI, and physics. It will be in the hands of the programmers to optimise their code much more than with the original XBox, though with a great deal of control of the low-level performance of the CPU, they will have the tools to do so. This will take some time to happen, and the first few games for the XBox 360 are unlikely to take full advantage of the Xenon’s potential – apart from the graphics that is. So, expect games that are great to look at, but not so hot in other categories.

Ars Technica discusses details of the XBox 360’s Xenon processor

May 26th, 2005

Major Nelson points out this article on Ars Technica that delves into the innards of the Xenon processor which will power the XBox 360. The article talks mainly about procedural synthesis, which is essentially using the CPU to generate vertex data for the GPU in real-time based on higher-level descriptions of objects that take up less memory and take less time and bandwidth to move from main memory into the CPU. Perhaps this could be one reason for the recent lack of posts in Mat Noguchi’s blog, and Bungie are working their tools programmer hard to take full advantage of this feature for Halo 3?

Xbox360.com has been updated

May 24th, 2005

The Xbox 360 web site has been updated. The interface is now more interactive and encourages you to explore and experiment.

Among the things that you can find include downloadable images of the console and the controller, as well as other promotional images. More interestingly there is a new video segment featuring J Allard that is similar to the OurColony video. Amongst the hyperbole, J Allard talks about user-created content, implying that all games will allow the user to customise aspects of the game – for example car paintjobs, skateboard designs, etc. Now, some games allow you to do this to some extent already, but perhaps J’s mention of designing your own levels gives a better idea of just how much control users will have. We will have to wait till this Christmas to see if the reality lives up to these expectations.

Neon lightsynth to be included in XBox 360

May 24th, 2005

The XBox 360 is to include the Neon lightsynth from Llamasoft – a name which might be familiar to gamers who grew up in the 1980s :) I believe that we got a preview of this in the MTV special, where there were large screens behind the bands that played in the show, and these screens showed images similar to the kind of visualisations you can get with Windows Media Player or iTunes – only much better! One intriguing aspect of Neon is that it can respond to controller input as well as music, so up to four people can “fly” it.

There’s a Neon demo movie you can download from the Llamasoft web site, and it does give some impression of what this can deliver. While the reaction of the images to the music was not all that obvious to me, it did hint at the graphical capability of the XBox 360.

XBox 360 backward compatibility will not require re-compilation

May 20th, 2005

According to Major Nelson, the backwards compatibility for the XBox 360 will not require re-compilation, nor will it require purchasing a new version of the games. Apparently the goal is that every XBox game will work on XBox 360.

What this says to me is that backwards compatibility will be implemented through emulation. Now, they may use pre-compiled binaries to complement this, however that could be more complicated than useful. I think that they will get the emulator working with the top titles (including Halo and Halo 2), and endeavour to get it working with as many other titles also. The games that bypass APIs and go direct to hardware will be the ones that cause the problems, and they may end up being impossible to emulate. In these cases, pre-compiled binaries may be the answer.

In the end of the day, whatever method they use, it means that you will be able to play Halo and Halo 2 on the XBox 360, without buying a new version of the game.