E3 2009: Microsoft’s Press Conference

Electronic Entertainment Exposition 2009

It is once again that time of year. The time of year when not only does yours truly become another year older, but also a time when the entire video games industry goes into a frenzy of elusive reveals, shocking announcements and mind blowing revelations. It is a dream of mine to one day attend the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3) in Los Angeles. Consequently, that dream may, hopefully, be closer than I realise but more on that in another post.

Microsoft's E3 Press Briefing 2009 For the very first time I managed to stream and successfully watch the entire Microsoft E3 press briefing. All two hours of it. How was it? Absolutely mind blowing! Eurogamer’s Ellie Gibson managed to sum it up perfectly: “E3 2009 may not have officially kicked off yet, but it’s already been a show to remember. After all, it’s not every day you get to see the likes of James Cameron, Paul McCartney and Pele chatting about videogames. Nor is it every day you get to have a conversation with a virtual 10 year-old or play Burnout with an imaginary steering wheel” (Project Natal Hands-on, Eurogamer, 2009). Yes, it was that good!

The following constitutes the main and most exciting announcements (For the full press release, please click here):

  • Facebook integration
  • Twitter integration
  • Last.FM integration
  • Xbox Live Video is now Zune Video On-demand: all content is 1080p (full HD) with 5.1 surround and is streamed (no queues or downloads)
  • Avatar Marketplace: buy new clothes and props for your Avatar as well as Avatar “unlockables” via achievements.
  • Most notable game announcements: Beatles Rock Band, Crackdown 2, Forza 3, Splinter Cell Conviction, Alan Wake, Metal Gear Rising, Halo 3 ODST and Halo Reach.
  • Most surprising/awesome announcement: ‘Project Natal’ – You are the controller via facial recognition, voice recognition and full body motion capture. Think Minority Report like functionality, for all games and all of the time. Simply incredible!

In all honesty, the Microsoft E3 press briefing was astounding. Short of announcing a successor to the Xbox 360, no one could have suspected the true capabilities of ‘Project Natal’. This is truly an evolution in video game play. The Nintendo Wii came close, but from what I have seen, ‘Project Natal’ blows it out of the water!

Here is an excerpt from an IGN article by Scott Lowe (full article here) )with impressions of the Microsoft E3 press briefing demo of ‘Project Natal’:

“Surprisingly, Microsoft not only unveiled the initial details of Project Natal to the media today, they also demoed the product live and in person. Members of the development team demonstrated two tech demos — a painting game and a kickball-style game. The painting game essentially has players using virtual cans of paint to splash on a canvas and create images. The painting game really showed the technology’s ability to detect arching movements and swift, but subtle hand motions. The kickball scenario, on the other hand, displayed how the camera could intelligently detect a player’s arms, legs, and head’s orientation and velocity in 3-D space. For the kickball game, the player swatted, kicked, and headbutted kickballs to knock down distant objects. What was impressive about both demos was the speed and efficiency of the device. As far as we could tell, there was little or no lag between a player’s motion and the in-game reaction. Equally impressive was how effectively the camera detected the precise angle of a player’s thrusts, jabs, and kicks, and how accurate the subsequent in-game representation was” (Scott Lowe, IGN 2009).

Microsoft Xbox – ‘Project Natal’ Product Featurette


There is so much more to discuss about ‘Project Natal’ that I will dedicate an entire post to this revolutionary form of game play in the near future. However, if you cannot wait to learn more, check out these videos:

Tonight is Sony’s conference and tomorrow is Nintendo’s. Microsoft have undoubtedly set the bar high and only time will tell if the other video game giants will be able to compete or outdo the competition.

Until the next time “Milieunairs”!


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‘Frag’ me, ‘frag’… me again and again!

Like most men, I can be said to partially fall into the stereotype of usually being able to thoroughly enjoy anything with a lot of action, sex, nudity, blood and gore. Preferably with all of the above. So, it stands to reason, and as far as stereotypes go, that I would enjoy a good spot of frantic online gaming mayhem, with a few friends, in a game such as Call of Duty: World at War. Without a doubt, online game playing is a lot of unadulterated fun. Assuming of course your Internet connection is up to ‘speed’.

Nothing is worse than having lag within an online game. I would imagine the experience being very similar to someone who has a premature ejaculator for a partner. Just when you think you are about to score, all ready and willing, the fun is over because the other party ended up ‘jizzing’ in your face, before you could even get your skirt up, and all that is left for you to do is to clean up the mess. No matter what you do within the online portion of the game, the opposing team always has the edge over you, always one step a head. This is not because you are not any good, but simply because your internet connection happens to be slower than a 90 year old geriatric with a walking aid crossing the street during peak hour traffic (Oh how you have to love the northern suburbs).

Unsurprisingly, this ‘phenomenon’ is not exclusive to myself. Often during an online game, I will get an ear full of David and Warren graciously dropping the ‘f-bomb, among other obscenities, because of this particular hindrance. Not much is more infuriating than knowing, with complete certainty, that you have beaten the enemy, only to have them take you out because your actions have yet to be relayed, due to lag, to the oppositions system. Argh… Just thinking about it is enough to raise my blood pressure. Furthermore, there are times when it is almost impossible to join an online match. You most likely have a better chance of getting a sexually transmitted disease through diffusion than being able to play online.

All of our lag issues stem from our broadband provider, of course. In sunny South Africa we are somewhat limited when it comes to broadband Internet access. Our only real option is that of the monopolistic Helkom Telksum Telkom’s ‘DO’ broadband, which has a maximum speed of 4 Mbps and comes bundled with a pathetic four gigabyte cap. According to Telkom this is in conjunction with international standards *cough* and should allow users to ‘DO’, not ‘do’ but “DO", gaming, music and movies (check the advertisement below, so you too can ‘DO’ the Internet *rolls eyes and throws up slightly at the back of throat*). Puh-leez! If anything, it is more like users will ‘DO’ nothing, downtime, lag and inconsistency.


Telkom’s DO Broadband Advertisement

Telkom are, allegedly, in the process of upgrading the network to cater for the 2010 World Cup. Whatever! This is Africa. Already the fabled Gautrain has been pushed back to 2012 and the current abhorrent ‘road works’ to 2011. Yay… fun times ahead *sigh*!

Until the next time Milieu Pals.