XboxOne reveal impressions

It’s hard to not be a little disappointed that there weren’t more games announced at today’s XboxOne reveal, even though I think we all knew, deep down, that today’s reveal was about the actual box itself, and that if they blew their wad on game announcements today, there’d be nothing left to surprise us at E3.  Even the vague announcement of 15 exclusive games, including 8 all-new franchises, doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence – those 8 all-new franchises could very easily be new Kinect titles, which nobody will care about.

And it’s also just been revealed, via The Verge, that XboxOne will not feature backwards compatibility.  Not necessarily that big a surprise, but still.  The PS4 won’t feature back-compat either, but they will offer PS3 games via their cloud; it’s unclear if Microsoft will offer something similar.  (I bring this up specifically because the lack of a PC version of Red Dead Redemption means that the 360 is the last place I’ll be able to play one of my favorite games of all time.)

Still, though – it’s a good-looking device, and that new controller is sexy as all get-out.   If I’m less-than-crazy about the name, it’s because I already refer to the original Xbox as Xbox1.  But then again, I have no idea how to refer to my 3rd generation iPad, either.

The TV stuff – eh.  If it helps me to eventually be able to get rid of Time Warner Cable, I’ll be thrilled.  The snappiness of the Kinect functionality was impressive, though it’s unclear if that was real or not.  (I speak as someone who’s been using Kinect voice functionality to watch HBO with a baby in the room, and while it’s very nice to be able to say “Xbox Pause” when the baby needs attending to and I can’t find the remote, it’s also a little annoying when I say something to my wife and my Xbox starts fast-forwarding for no apparent reason.)

It’s too soon to pick a winner between PS4 and XboxOne until they start revealing games and release dates and prices.  Watch Dogs, which accompanied the PS4 reveal, has been confirmed to be an XboxOne title (as well as Assassin’s Creed 4); the Call of Duty stuff that closed out the show doesn’t interest me in the slightest.   And I’m not that big a fan of any of the 4 EA Sports titles they talked about (although, if they can introduce some of that new tech in Tiger Woods 16, I’ll be happy for the year delay.)  When they talked about the new cloud service and the 300,000 servers that will be powering this thing, they also seemed to imply that XboxOne would be able to handle MMO experiences; this bodes well for stuff like Bungie’s Destiny, but I wonder if they they are also ultimately talking about games like Dota and League of Legends.

(It’s also too soon to pick a winner, because we’ve yet to see the Steam Box.  And if I had to pick one, it’s entirely possible that’s the one I’d pick.)

What did you think?

disconnection and reconnection

So I replaced my broken hard drive over the weekend.

I’ve never been a fixer.   I’ve never had a mechanically-inclined mind.  When I played with Legos as a child, I never created things – I gained intense pleasure from building the thing that was on the cover of the box, following the instructions to the letter, and that was the extent of my creativity with physical objects.   (This is, I think, a reason why Minecraft holds no appeal for me.)

So, yeah; I had a busted hard drive and absolutely no idea how to fix it, and even less desire to learn.   The broken hard drive was a $100 problem; if I tried to fix it and ended up breaking something else, I’d then have a $1000 problem, and that’s just not something I can deal with right now.   So early last week I’d asked my Facebook friends for advice, and a friend of mine who lives in the neighborhood offered to fix it, but at the last minute he had to cancel and wouldn’t be able to help until next week, and I knew I’d start to go insane if I had to go that long without a working PC.

So I put on my big-boy pants, sent the manual to my iPad (since our wireless printer is on the fritz, which is a problem I have NO idea how to solve), got myself a screwdriver, and prepared for the worst.

And 5 minutes later, my new hard drive was in place, and I was installing Windows 7 again, and now everything seems to be working quite well – better, in fact, than it was before the old hard drive failed.  (The PC had been having very weird problems for quite a while, actually – so, in a way, this was a boon.)

The new PC is strictly a gaming machine now – the only applications it’s running are Google Chrome, Spotify, and Steam.   (Previously it had also been running ProTools… until, for some strange reason, it couldn’t run it anymore.)

Let me interrupt myself here to say this:  I love the cloud.  I finally get the cloud.  There wasn’t really all that much on my PC that I needed to save, and it was backed up on an external hard drive anyway, but truth be told everything I’d be using on this PC is either in Google Drive, Spotify, or Steam, and I didn’t need my external hard drive for any of that stuff.

The only real pain in the ass is rebuilding my Steam library, and it’s only a pain in the ass to the extent that my download speeds aren’t where I want them to be.  (They generally average around 2.5 MPS, but sometimes they just conk out completely.)  But I’ve also realized that I don’t need to download everything.  Before my old hard drive failed, I had over 100 games installed.  This time around I’m just going to stick to the essentials, the stuff I may have already beaten but still enjoy wandering around in.  (Cloud saves are great, by the way.  I’m finding that I’m less inclined to re-download stuff where there are no cloud saves – Far Cry 3, for example.)

I have more to say, specifically about being disappointed by Metro Last Light and about feeling disconnected from gaming in general, but the XBOX event is about to happen and I suspect my tune may change considerably once that’s over with, for some reason.