Xbox 2: The Raw Facts
|Over the past few weeks, it seems the world has been bombarded with conflicting press releases and announcements concerning the next console from Microsoft.
|05.08.05 - 9:36 pm
Partnerships are looking to be a clear display of Microsofts power. We take a look at the 3 biggest so far and tell you what exactly they mean for us gamers.
ATI are taking over from Nvidia, being one of the two Graphic card creating giants this is not a bad thing, and will be creating the graphic cards that will go into the Xbox 2. The new chip from ATI is aimed to be much faster then it's upcoming R420 chips for the PC. Which will be great for gamers because this will mean very polished and great looking graphics. Just imagine Doom 3, Half Life 2 and Far Cry, on steroids.
IBM are talking over from Intel, so we are going to have 3 IBM 64 – bit microprocessors in our Xbox 2's, earlier versions of these chips are used in the G5 Power Mac systems which are high spec Apple Macs. What this means is power, and lots of it, one of these chips will be good for a high spec PC, but 3, just imagine it. These will make our gorgeous games run lag free and smooth like silk.
TSMC is the largest semiconductor foundry in the world, manufacturing semiconductors for all its customers in a wide range of high-end markets. TSMC will manufacture system-on-chip (SOC) semiconductors for future versions of Microsoft's Xbox console. SOCs are highly specialized chips that integrate multiple electronic components required for a product on a single piece of silicon. The SOCs will be created by TSMC, using its Nexsys technology. Nexsys is the name that TSMC has given to its most advanced process technologies, including the 90-nanometer process that is currently in pilot production and its 65-nanometer process, which is still in development.
Not too sure what this means yet though, because we don't know what nanometer process the Xbox 2 will go for, but if it was to use the 65-nanometer process, it would match the technology that Sony plans to use for production of its Cell microprocessor in its PS3.
"Software will be the single most important force in digital entertainment over the next decade. XNA underscores Microsoft's commitment to the game industry and our desire to work with partners to take the industry to the next level."
- Bill Gates, founder and chief software architect of Microsoft.
At 10:30 on Wednesday March 24th, Robbie Bach and J Allard displayed XNA at the Games Developers Conference in San Jose.
The Press Release:
"XNA is the catalyst for a new ecosystem of interchangeable, interoperable software tools and technologies from Microsoft, middleware and game development companies."
What XNA Actually Is:
XNA is essentially a next generation development tool, which allows developers to create stunning Xbox 2 titles with ease using revolutionary new features whilst saving money along the way.
At GDC, Microsoft demonstrated some astounding demos to showcase the power that comes with XNA, they are as follows.
This demo, created by Microsoft's very own in-house development teams showcased how XNA can cope with ambience and highly-detailed environments. Displaying a young woman waiting at a table while her cigarette burns away in an ashtray beside her, demonstrating some of the most realistic real-time facial expressions we have ever seen in a game.
Download the Film Noir demo now:
Created by Pseudo Interactive, Crash was incredible. The thought of smashing the shiniest car we have ever seen at a wall at 300mph and watching it crumple like a coke can is unbelievable. Displaying the most realistic crash physics and damage system we have ever seen, we can't wait to see these crashes being pulled off in the next Gotham or Rallisport!
Download the Crash demo now:
The final demo was created by High Voltage Software and displayed how imaginative and intricately detailed characters are possible on the XNA technology. Following a white gorilla that morphed into a big fat reptile with flowing muscle tissue that then transformed into a cute armadillo-type animal with full-blown glorious hair was impressive. All in real-time, these creatures are something you would expect from the next Rare game.
Download the Xenomorph demo now:
Overall, XNA is going to revolutionize gaming by allowing developers to create stunning looking games and more technical gameplay will make videogames sales fly through the roof while keeping development time and expenses to an all time low. Surely that has to mean something!
Companies Currently Supporting XNA:
"Alias heartily supports XNA. XNA will pave a single path for deployment of rich content from Maya across multiple Microsoft game platform environments such as Windows-based PCs and the Xbox."
— Geoff Foulds, Global Games and Interactive Marketing Manager, Alias Systems.
Argonaut (Powerdrome, Carve):
"Anything that makes the game developer's job easier, and removes some of the risk and some of the trial and error, is a good thing. We can concentrate on what makes a game good — gameplay, content and visuals — and not worry about fighting the hardware."
— Jez San, Founder and CEO, Argonaut Games PLC.
ATI Technologies (Xbox 2):
"We're excited to have been involved with XNA since its conception. We design hardware for developers so they get the high performance they expect under all circumstances, but it's equally important to provide software tools that remove the barriers to creating great content. The combination of ATI's hardware and Microsoft's XNA software will let game developers concentrate on what's most important: making blockbuster games."
— Andy Thompson, Director of Strategic Marketing, ATI Technologies Inc.
"We are pleased to see that Microsoft shares our vision of helping developers make better games, faster, through use of their favorite middleware. We look forward to leveraging XNA in the RenderWare tool chain to implement Windows- and Xbox-specific features."
— David Lau-Kee, CEO, Criterion Software.
"XNA is a great software solution that provides efficient tools, middleware and production pipelines to create better games faster. We fully approve and support this next-generation strategy, as effectiveness has been our ultimate goal since the establishment of Crytek and the development of CryENGINE middleware."
— Cevat Yerli, President and CEO, Crytek GmbH.
"Discreet is excited to support game developers though Microsoft's new XNA initiative announced today. With the largest registered install base of 3-D animation software in the world, Discreet 3ds Max software has been an integral creation tool for Microsoft Xbox game developers — and the new XNA middleware platform will assist them in bringing high-quality games to market faster."
— Marc Petit, Vice President, Product Development, Discreet (a division of Autodesk Inc.).
Epic Games (Unreal Championship):
"It's the age-old problem of game development: how much time do you spend on your tools and technology and how much time do you spend on your game design? The better the tools and technology, the better — and faster — you can make your game. The more Microsoft does to provide developers with tools, the easier it is for game developers to develop better games."
— Tim Sweeney, Founder and President, Epic Games.
"We are extremely excited about XNA, both as a middleware provider and as a game developer. Tools are the only chance for future success in this industry, and never has this been more true than now. As we move into next-generation development, the expectations of gamers and the abilities of hardware open almost limitless possibilities for content creators. Without the right tools, developers will not be able to keep up with the pace — XNA is what the industry needs right now."
— Julian Eggebrecht, President, Factor 5 LLC.
"Havok, as the leading supplier of physics middleware for the game industry, believes that only through increasingly sophisticated software components and tools that integrate seamlessly with each other can the power of the next generation of entertainment platform be leveraged by game developers. The XNA initiative is important for the industry in that it represents a commitment to providing the software infrastructure to make this happen. We are looking forward to leveraging XNA technology and participating in its success."
— Dr. Steven Collins, Chief Technical Officer, Havok.
High Voltage Software:
"I want more of those up-front tools and more technology that we could use right away and learn from, because what we try to do is hire all creative people to figure out that answer. If I have to devote a lot of resources to technology, that's fewer resources that we can devote to creating a great game."
— Brett Bourbin, Director of Technology, High Voltage Software.
"If the right tools are available, we can worry about building the game and not building the software."
— Marc Lutz, Chief Technical Officer, Ketsujin Studios.
"XNA will enhance NDL in delivering Gamebryo's industry-leading cross-platform 3-D graphics engine and tools."
— John Austin, CEO, NDL
"Microsoft's introduction of XNA presents an exciting opportunity for game developers to not only maintain a unified development environment while creating stunning content for multiple platforms, but to also focus on taking full advantage of the latest graphics technologies and shading effects to express their creative visions to the fullest. For NVIDIA, the availability of XNA presents a particularly exciting opportunity as our graphics technology continues to extend into new markets, such as handheld computing, where developers will be able to create and deliver 3-D gaming experiences like never before seen."
— Mark Daly, Vice President of Content Development, NVIDIA.
Pseudo Interactive Inc:
"The best thing a console provider can provide is a complete, robust environment where all the redundant generic stuff is taken care of. That frees us developers to work on the cool, specialized features that are going to make each of our games innovative."
— David Wu, President and Technology Director, Pseudo Interactive Inc.
Quazal Technologies Inc:
"We are extremely excited by the new XNA technology introduced by Microsoft. XNA empowers Quazal with tools to drive innovation even further on both Microsoft Windows and Xbox. In the end, Microsoft XNA is the starting point of a revolution that will bring game development to the next level."
— Martin Lavoie, Chief Technology Officer, Quazal Technologies Inc.
"Developers have demanded an easier way to develop games, and Microsoft has responded. With HLSL and now with the XNA development environment, the process of writing shaders and creating visually stunning content is more accessible and simplified than ever before. Right Hemisphere shares Microsoft's goal to streamline the production pipeline for artists and programmers. Our Deep Exploration software is included in every Xbox developer kit so that assets may be created in most any application and previewed in real time on Xbox. What this does is allow for a smoother, less disruptive development process in which artists, engineers and programmers can focus on their core tasks and work more freely and independently of each other. Together, XNA and our WYSIWYG software take away some of the constraints and disruptions burdening the 3-D content creation process."
— Michael Lynch, CEO, Right Hemisphere.
"For tools and middleware developers like Secret Level, having our tools work across platforms is key. Good tools and middleware solutions will be vital on the next generation of game machines, and XNA is just what we need to support the development of cross-platform games simultaneously."
— Reeve S. Thompson, Director of Production, Secret Level.
"Today's developers demand the most advanced and flexible tools in order to produce out-of-this-world games. In unifying the Windows and Xbox development tools under the XNA software system, developers can now save time by designing multiplatform games, and focus on creating amazing content. Combined with SOFTIMAGE|XSI, they can make better games, faster than ever before."
— Gareth Morgan, Senior Product Manager, Softimage Co. (a subsidiary of Avid Technology Inc.).
Touchdown Entertainment Inc:
"At Touchdown, we have always been committed to providing tools that help developers focus on game content rather than technology development. We're looking forward to XNA, which will further expand the value of middleware to game developers."
— Jeffrey Hutt, Technical Director, Touchdown Entertainment Inc.
"On the PC we have tools like HLSL. On Xbox, we have tools like PIX. These are both really powerful, and XNA combines the power of the PC and the power of the console into a best-of-breed platform."
— Gabe Newell, Founder and Managing Director, Valve.
Vicarious Visions Inc:
"XNA allows us to leverage some of the great tools we've come to rely on for Xbox development for PC games as well. We are excited about this, both as a developer whose games often bridge between the console and Windows worlds, and as a middleware licensor supporting teams working with both platforms. This is going to be a win-win for everyone."
— Tobi Saulnier, Vice President, Product Development, Vicarious Visions Inc.
Virtools Canada Inc:
"Virtools is proud to join the XNA program. We will provide even stronger middleware for the next generation, capable of dramatically easing the development effort and accelerating the time to market of high-quality games on powerful future platforms."
— Bertrand Duplat, President and CTO, Virtools Canada Inc.
"Software makes all the difference. I believe with this next generation, hardware is not going to matter as much as it has in the past. It's about software tools."
— Scott Patterson, Executive Vice President, Visual Concepts.
Other Development Tools Developed For Xbox 2:
These are the tools that the games developers will be using, along with XNA to create the coolest, state-of-the-art gameplay.
Created by Climax's Core Technology Group (CTG), an internal team of expert programmers, the powerful cross-platform engine replaces Blimey 1 and consolidates the company's position at the forefront of cutting edge game development.
MotoGP 1 and 2: Ultimate Racing Technology, Hotwheels World Race, The Italian Job: LA Heist, ATV 2: Quad Power Racing and Rally Fusion: on paper these games seem to share little in common, but one thing binds them all – Blimey 1, Climax's first cross-platform game development engine. Acclaimed for its versatility, simplicity, power and user-friendliness, the engine enabled Climax to turn around PS2, Xbox, GameCube and PC games in double-quick time. And now, with a new generation of gaming platforms looming on the horizon, Climax has again stolen a technological march on its rivals by revamping the engine for PS3, Xbox 2 and PSP. Simply called Blimey 2, the new engine boasts a host of enhancements and improvements that will ensure Climax remains among the games development elite.
"The Blimey engine has served us well over the last couple years, but Blimey 2 takes us to another level" commented Karl Jeffery, CEO of Climax. "It's more powerful, more adaptable and, most importantly, it keeps us ahead of the competition. We've already got games in development that are using Blimey 2 and we're ready now for PS3, Xbox 2, PSP and any other next generation games platform."
Taking a ground-up approach, and designed specifically for the power and architecture of future consoles and PCs, RenderWare 4 will enable development teams world-wide to efficiently plan, generate, manage and execute next generation game development, effectively harnessing the power of new hardware, and transcending the hurdles that are set to grow exponentially for next generation content.
The first look at the all-new graphics component of RenderWare 4 showcases an ultra-lightweight core that delivers astounding performance through a completely redesigned architecture and an off-line, distributed, Asset Conditioning Pipeline (ACP) that transforms all game assets into their optimal representations on current and future devices. Underpinning the powerful new graphics, a new architecture has been designed specifically to support vastly more complex, rich and detailed game worlds.
Adam Billyard, CTO, Criterion Software explains, "RenderWare4 has been squarely targeted at what next generation games will bring: massive data sets, parallelism in architecture and huge calls on visual effects. When Criterion began planning for new hardware over two years ago, it was obvious that an iteration of current generation technology simply wouldn't deliver next time around, so we made the critical decision to design and build RenderWare4 completely from the ground up."
Billyard continued, "Capitalizing on the experience of supporting over 500 RenderWare titles to date on current hardware, we have a unique insight into what developers need as far as ease of use and implementation, as well as how to help them deliver stunning performance. What we will be showing at GDC is the first realization of that insight."
"This is only the beginning of the RenderWare 4 rollout for next generation," comments David Lau-Kee, CEO, Criterion Software. The key to harnessing the power of new hardware and delivering new and innovative gameplay is through integration of technologies such as Graphics, Physics, AI and Audio; and, as importantly, managing transition and increased complexity through process. We are working hard on both of these areas, with further early visibility at GDC of our new approach to Dynamics as well as the unveiling of RenderWare Studio 2."
The most important aspect of any system is the games we will be playing. Information is incredibly scarce on this section of the console, the confirmed games. However, here are the ones that are confirmed for the next generation:
Dark Sector is set in the wake of world devastation, where survivors are scattered throughout the solar system in a vast crumbling network of outposts and space stations. Anarchy reigns as violent factions wage war over limited resources. The remnants of world government have sanctioned bounty hunting in a desperate attempt to control the growing chaos.
Players carve out their destiny in a violent struggle for fortune and fame. Begin your career as a bounty hunter tracking your target from Mars to the moons of Jupiter and then face off in an ice mine on Europa. Or choose the darker path by hunting the law-abiding citizens around you; build an infamous reputation as an assassin, the growing price on your head turning your own friends against you. Additional key features of Dark Sector:
Players can band together in formal syndicates, seeking to invade and occupy the multitude of resource fortresses in the game world.
Challenge Arenas where players can hold grudge matches, wager on matching their skills against others, competing in team battles and ladder matches.
Space flight gameplay will allow players to travel between space stations and engage in gut wrenching dog fights.
Dark Sector evolves - new elements will be regularly introduced after the game's debut, enriching and expanding the game experience.
The First In-Game Movie Is Right Here!
Developed under the codename Avalon, this impressive new game is to be produced at the company's celebrated Brighton Studio and will debut on the eagerly-awaited Xbox 2 and PlayStation 3.
Famed for its work on the hit racers MotoGP and MotoGP 2, the Brighton studio was the first choice among Climax's many studios for this exciting project. Its experience with vehicle-based games made it the natural home for the game, which will see the studio branch out to include land, sea and air vehicles.
Designed and developed by some of the brightest minds in the Brighton studio, including members of the award-winning MotoGP team, Avalon will boast groundbreaking graphics, sensational sound and the gripping gameplay now expected of all Climax-developed games. Enhancing the superior technology of the next generation consoles and the power of the Blimey 2 engine, the game is already at a remarkably advanced stage of development with a fully playable online prototype housed at the Brighton office.
"This is an exciting, bold stride forward for Climax" enthused Climax's Head Of Brighton Studio Tony Beckwith. "The fact that we're one of the first independent companies to start work on a next generation project reaffirms our commitment to remaining among the development elite."
Tony continued: "Thanks to the Blimey 2 engine, we're way ahead of the curve in the next generation arena. There has been significant interest from publishers already and we are going to take our time to select the right publishing partner for this incredibly exciting game.
Un-Revealled Day 1 Studios Title:
Via Day 1 Stuios' official job openings page, they state that:
"If you are an exceptional Senior Game Designer with artistic sensibilities and you are obsessed with creating innovative games; Day 1 Studios has an excellent opportunity for you. You will enjoy collaborating with an experienced management team and make significant contributions to a properly funded and scheduled Xbox2 project."
Could this be Mech Assault 3? Who knows, what we do know is that this will be one game to watch out for! With so much talent behind them and xbox 2 hardware to work on, this game will be a gem!
What would we like to see on Xbox 2?
This is our staff members and forum members want in Xbox 2!
1. Backwards Compatibility! We want to play our Xbox games on our brand new Xbox2! (Delilah)
2. Shenmue 3! We would give any part of our bodies to get this game. We mean it! (Gary)
3. More Internet Interaction. (Ben)
4. More Involvement with music in games. (Ben)
5. Hard-Drive. (Parisi)
6. Wireless controllers at launch. (Taco)
7. All I want is good Rareware games. (MrInfamous)
8. I would like to see true stereoscopic 3D with shutter glasses like IMAX if they can consistently maintain 60+ frames/sec. (Donald1800)
9. I wouldn't mind seeing a device that could be plugged in to the console that would allow up to sixteen players to play at once using wireless controllers. (mdjvet)
10. SquareEnix. (kgpimp02)
11. DVD Compatible. (kgpimp02)
12. Play Burnt Cd's. (kgpimp02)
13. Four shoulder buttons on the controllers but keep the white and black buttons too. (Si)
14. When you are online, you can talk on msn. (Parsi)
Official XNA WebSite:
Official Dark Sector WebSite
Official Day One Studios Website: