You know video games are big when state gov. plans emergency broadcasts around it

So there have been plenty of examples of how video games have truly become mainstream.  The millions of dollars being spent on advertising, the holiday size rush of excitement around launch dates, and the re-working of many video games into board games, food, drinks, action figures, cartoons, etc., etc.,  But this is a little different. 

 

Basically in summary, the State of New York has recognized the volume of Xbox Live users and has integrated their emergency broadcast system into that experience.  This makes total sense because other than showering, watching a movie, and driving there is not much else that requires as much or more attention, ie not paying attention to TV/radio emergency broadcasts, than playing video games.

New York State will issue emergency broadcast alerts via Xbox Live

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Xbox360 Elite Console – Microsoft’s oversight and Data Migration Kit Failure

So quick and to the point. If you play video games and are thinking about upgrading your hard drive or moving to a new system keep reading. Otherwise… how is the weather?

So Microsoft wants you to believe that transfering data from one xbox hard drive to another is extremely difficult and you need special cables and CDs.  I too fell to this misconception and was calling around trying to get a hold of said cable and CD.  Well, you can’t find them… anywhere. Why is this? Microsoft no longer allows private retailers to sell them.  Not only this but if you upgrade to one of their premiere systems then you can call them up and ask for one.  If of course you are willing to spend another $15 and wait 1-2 weeks for it to ship, which is exactly what you want to do after just spending money on a new console.  So because of my impatience and curiosity, I looked even deeper.

I called Microsoft’s customer support, they were helpless. They were not sure what to do, how to do it, and what the limitations were if certain things were done.  I had an idea of how to get most of what was needed accomplished for the data transfer but they just read off of their scripts.  (And to be fair one rep was seemed to know her stuff and gave the okay on recovering gamertag to get most of the content over.) Basically there are three things that need to happen:

  1. Gamertag needs to transfer to new machine
  2. Get data (game saves, videos, downloadable content, etc. to new machine hard drive
  3. Transfer licenses of said content “in order to view on new hard drive without being logged in to xbox live

*note I put quotation marks around step 3, this is their major sticking point for using their method*

Microsoft wants you to believe that you NEED to get the data transfer cable, the old hard drive, AND a NEVER used new hard drive to make this happen. This means pay Microsoft $15 for some cable and CD and wait 1-2 weeks.  Oh, and a computer to be on the web for license transfer.  They want you to plug the data transfer cable in to USB slot on old xbox with old hard drive still plugged in and then plug the new hard drive into data transfer cable. This seems easy, and then install the CD and transfer data.  Then go to xbox.com and log in to xbox live and then start license transfer.  You have to make sure the licenses are registered to your xbox live account (perhaps they are on multiple machines) and you are okay with losing them on those machines.  You can only do this once a year and it has to happen close to when the data is being transferred and the new hard drive is plugged in. If you don’t do all of this you will lose all of your data and will have to start over (they don’t give details.)

Well, this is crap.  All you need is the computer, a memory card, and an internet connection.  I know because I just did it!

  1. Memory card to transfer all saved game data and gamertag profiles to new hard drive
  2. Internet connection for new xbox hard drive to download all marketplace content (map packs, car add-ons, other game add-ons) once you are logged in with your gamertag

It really was that easy, the only time consuming part was the 3gigs of downloads I had to do to get all of my content back. As long as I signed in to my gamertag profile this was easy, nothing I wanted to download gave any issues about not having licenses.  In fact, most said “I had already downloaded but do I want to download again,” and I just chose “Yes please.”

and 3. Transfer licenses using computer connected to xbox live website

I actually still did this just for piece of mind.  The only downside I think I saw was that if for some reason I was not signed in to my profile then I could not view my videos, pictures, or whatever.  But to be honest I have NEVER logged in to my xbox and not signed into my profile. Perhaps if there were multiple users of an xbox then to see certain videos you would have to be signed in to that person’s gamertag profile (IF you did not transfer licenses.) but come on, how often would this happen? really?

Point being, they should make this a lot more clear. You don’t need to spend any money on another cable. Just use a memory card to transfer important stuff and while logged in download the content again. But IF you have multiple users on your xbox then you might want to include a license transfer in your steps to make sure everyone can see your content if not logged in to your profile.

That’s it, that is my rant. I am glad I did not wait for the cable, spend the extra money, or had to deal with any more Microsoft customer service script readers.

Next challenge: Using both of my Xbox’s at the same time on home network with both having open NATs….

 

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New updates to Next Xbox Dashboard Have Been Announced

They still have not announced when the update is coming but they hinted around August. Here is a run down of what is to come for the next Xbox Dashboard update. Also, scroll to bottom to quickly see what this update will NOT include but was announced from Microsoft at E3.

Netflix Updates
Now you can watch movies with your friends no matter where they are and manage your queue from the comfort of your couch.

  • Movie Parties – Xbox LIVE Gold members can sit together in a virtual theater with up to seven friends no matter where they are while your Avatars watch a movie, flirt or even throw popcorn at each other.
  • Manage Your Queue – Browse the Netflix Instant Watch video catalogue, choose from the most popular movies and genres and add to your queue all from the comfort of your couch – no computer required.
  • Enhanced Playback Experience – Enjoy a smooth viewing experience when your internet bandwidth fluctuates.
    Friends Info – Richer information is now displayed in the Friends channel and in the Guide showing what you and your friends are doing.
  • Avatar Marketplace – Express yourself! Deck your Avatar out with the latest clothing and props from the top brands and game franchises. Please note that only limited content is currently available in the preview.
  • Clothing – Download premium items, including branded apparel from your favorite fashion labels and Xbox 360 games such as “Halo.”
    Props – You can now equip your avatar with animated items they can carry around and interact with.
  • Awardables – The ability to earn Avatar clothing and props as rewards within games has been added. Please stay tuned for an update on supporting titles.

Games on Demand
Please note that Games on Demand will be available in the preview beginning early August.
Enjoy 24 x 7 access to a growing online library of popular full game titles on Xbox LIVE whenever you want them, in the comfort of your living room.

  • Purchase Options – Browse and download a great selection of full Xbox 360 games using Microsoft Points, direct debit, or credit card.
  • Game Manuals – Game manuals for Games on Demand titles can be viewed, downloaded or printed on Xbox.com.
  • It’s Yours Forever! – As with other Xbox LIVE content, Games on Demand titles are linked to your Xbox LIVE account, so you can delete and re-download anything you have already purchased to the same console or another console.

User Ratings
User ratings help you find games that other people think are awesome!

  • Rate it – You can now rate every game on the Xbox LIVE Games Marketplace using a 5-star system.
  • Sort and Find it – Now you can easily find the games that everyone’s been raving about by visiting the Top Rated games in the Browse All category of Xbox LIVE Games Marketplace.

Xbox LIVE Parties
Everyone loves to Party! Check out the new and improved Xbox LIVE Party features.

  • Party Reconnections – If you are accidently disconnected from your party, Xbox LIVE will automatically reconnect you.
    Streamlined Party Invites – Invites are now just one click away! No need to click through multiple screens to get all your friends together.

Video Display Options
They have made it easier for you to see your entertainment in the highest resolution possible on your TV using an HDMI connection.

  • Display Discovery – Make sure you can see and hear your entertainment in the highest resolution and sound quality possible with the option to override and select audio and video formats independent of the information your television sends to your Xbox 360 console.

Other Improvements
They are always listening to our feedback, and this Xbox LIVE update will include numerous dashboard updates.

  • Gold Member Veterans – Xbox LIVE Gold members get to show it off with a stamp on your Gamer Card that tells people how long you’ve been a Gold member.
  • Indie Games – Xbox LIVE Community Games has been renamed Xbox LIVE Indie Games. They feel this new name better represents the independent spirit of these titles.
  • Achievement Browser – They have revamped the Achievements browser so it’s now easier to read through all the achievements while playing a game. You can now also launch a game directly from the browser.
  • Achievements Tracking – A new view inside the profile panel which includes a summary of Achievements earned across all the games played, and shows of all your completed games.
  • Streamlined Navigation – Streamlined navigation, including new entry points in the dashboard for Active Downloads, redeeming codes, recovering Gamertags and more.
  • Voice Messages – No more blank voice messages! When recording a voice message, a warning will pop up if no audio is detected.
  • Friends List Sorting – It’s now easier to find your friends! Find and sort your friends by activity, Gamertag or online status by pressing the Y button while viewing the friends list in the Guide.
  • Memory – Time stamps now appear in the memory area, which particular handy when managing saved games.

Account Management
They have made some changes to make your life easier.

  • Subscription Notification – If your Xbox LIVE subscription is about to run out, you will now be notified when you sign into Xbox LIVE.
  • Updates for Invalid Windows Live IDs – If the Windows Live ID you provided has expired, you will now be prompted to update it the next time you sign into Xbox LIVE.
  • Account recovery – They have enhanced the account recovery process to make it faster and more reliable.

What does this Xbox LIVE Update not include?

The following features will be coming in future Xbox LIVE updates, which they said they would be sure to let us know about.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Zune video and 1080p Instant On
  • Last.fm

Microsoft’s Press Conference at E3 – some big stuff

So I am finsihing up watching Microsoft’s press conference at E3 and they had some surprises. Here are my favorites in no particular order. UPDATE: I couldn’t help it, my top ones are in BOLD

  1. Crackdown 2 – with multiplayer and looks like they threw in a zombie twist
  2. Halo ODST – Not quite as exciting with some of the same guns but hopefully the story line and controls will make it a favorite. Looks like they are using ODST to keep people happy until Halo Reach comes…
  3. Halo Reach – ooohhh this could be good, after Halo ODST they announce Spartans are back saving the humans again, very interesting, and if you buy Halo ODST then you get an invitation to play the multiplayer beta of Halo Reach.
  4. Prototype – Could be very fun, has open world traveling and multiple scenario game playing
  5. Left 4 Dead 2 – never really tried the first but this seems scary and gory
  6. Forza Motorsport 3 – Better graphics at 60fps, lots of cars, new multiplayer focus (thank you!) and better video sharing/recording/editing
  7. Xbox’s new Joy Ride – Avatar community racing game with jumps, tricks, and crazy avatar driving, looks like it could be fun
  8. Tony Hawk’s Ride – eh, not much of a skateboard fan but if the board works I could imagine this being big for some
  9. Facebook and Twitter Experiences designed and integrated on Xbox Live
  10. Other Xbox Live Updates:
    • 1080P Full Resolution watching with updated “Zune” Video Marketplace (I guess this is where the Zune HD would come in as well)
    • All videos can be watched instantly with streaming vs downloading with new “Zune” Video Marketplace
    • They have brought Party game playing to Party TV, Movie, Sports game watching
    • Adding last.fm streaming music, not sure why me and some friends would all listen to the same music on Xbox Live???
    • Adding Netflix movies to Xbox Instant watch without going to PC is a nice touch, something that was needed
    • Using SkyTV to bring Netflix instant watch capabilities to Ireland and UK (I think they missed a few counstries but okay)
    • Oooh but that does bring up the ability to watch some TV directly on Xbox, again why if I already have a TV and Cable?

Call of Duty: World at War Map Pack 2 Coming in June!

So after getting to play the first map pack, cleverly named “Map Pack 1” I am really looking forward to two things. More environments where others with lots more time than myself can kill me too easily and…. another Zombie level.  Not only did I think the Map Pack 1 levels were more intricate and detailed, they took the zombie killing action to a whole other level.  Adding in perks, bouncing betty’s, and more rooms to open or keep closed made it more difficult as well as more fun.  I would say at least on a weekly basis me and my friends play zombies and each time its a tense match.

So after Treyarch and Activision just about a million downloads during the very first week it looks like they are hungry for more, and to be honest so are we.  And the best part is we won’t have to wait too long!  So here are the details:

3 new multiplayer maps:

  1. “Banzai” – jungle environment map with caves
  2. “Corrosion” – more train yard action
  3. “Sub Pens’ – submarine base with rain

But here is the best part, Nazi Zombie map #3 here you come!!!

  1. “Shi No Numa” – Probably same good ‘ole action plus new perk machines, a new weapon, new achievements / trophies and some scary flaming hell sounds. Sounds good to me, I’m decided, its sold, count me in!

So come this June, hopefully early June, we will have more nights of trying to stay alive, trying to stab each other to draw blood, and hoping to get a Ray Gun from the random gun box!!

Good to be home

Been home for 5 days so far and it has been really nice. No worrying about catching trains, buses, or cabs and sleeping in my own bed and driving my own car. Although it was without Crystal and I was missing her most of all.

But on a brighter note I was able to get some chores done, mowed the lawn, relax and I did volunteer to help out out Rockstar Inc., with some some electronic “hand-eye coordination” quality assurance testing with Keith and Scott. I think they have a fine and fun product 😉

Car is 130% now, finally got the alignment needed after installing the HR Race Springs, Maximum Motorsport Caster Camber kit and some Polyurethane steering rack bushings. Now she sits about 1.5″ lower, much more responsive in both suspension and steering, and is perfectly aligned with the help of the extra adjustments from the caster camber kit.

I am ready for summer!!!

Jon,,

GTAIV has arrived and for the most part it is big

I have to be honest I am a little sad I could not be there for this launch event. The nearly Halo 3’esc size launch has come and it was pretty big for the most part. The picture to the left is a line outside of Best Buy. What is even more crazy is that there was a EB Games and FutureShop in the same area (according to Xbox360Fanboy.com) and all three places had a line like this. That must have been pretty cool to see and experience. I missed the hours waiting in line for Halo 3, thanks to my brother Chris who was awesome in standing in line that night for me. I was hoping to get to experience this but I am in South Beach Miami Florida at a convention, not complaining at all work is keeping me very busy.

Now I say mostly because apparently Wal-Mart has learned from its waiting periods for Halo 3 and this time (again according to Xbox360Fanboy.com) the lines were minimal if at all. The author states he was able to get in and get back to his car with game in hand by 12:07am.

Now while I have been here in Miami I was able to get away for about 20 minutes last night around 9:30pm to check out some game videos and here is what I am excited about.

  1. Drunk Walking and Drunk Driving
  2. Much more realistic fist fighting mechanism (also weapon fire and aiming)
  3. Realistic driving with tail spin, weight transfer, realistic physics
  4. Smashing windows in order to steal cars
  5. Mini Games with integration with Online game tracking with Social Club (Bowling, pool, darts, arcade games)
  6. Getting shot with a shotgun while in a car and seeing the buck shot holes in the body work
  7. Long distance viewing
  8. ONLINE MULTIPLAYER deathmatches, racing, and strategy cops and robbers
  9. Dynamic water effectsRealistic pedestrians and them fighting back more
  10. Addition of complete new cities (probaby for a price but allows for huge growth)

oh well that is most of them, there are a few more I am sure but I have not seen them yet. I think what is most going to impress everyone including myself is how much detail there is. The small stuff like guys checking and moving the rear view mirror when getting into cars and realistic bullet holes staying will be impressive.

But I will be waiting until probably Thursday to play, Scott reserved and got me a copy today!!