Xbox Live

Just curious if anybody else is finding it as addicting as I am. I was playing some MechAssault last night, and got wrapped up in a series of entertaining fights…all of a sudden, I look up at the clock, and it’s past 3 AM. :shock: Scary.

The voice chat really improves things – at first, hardly anyone is talking, but then once people start warming to it, everybody’s talking trash, trading tips, or just chit-chatting. The funniest part is when I was doing really well in one game of Destruction, people formed an impromptu team through chat to come and hunt me down. It’s kind of flattering to receive such special attention. :P

Also, for those of you keeping track at home, I have encountered zero sore losers or bad sports so far…

I haven’t encountered any bad sports yet either, though my friend says he has (specifically, he said to avoid “beavisuser”). People seem to be friendly enough. Language would still be a problem if I were a parent letting my kid play this though. No one’s rude to each other, but there’s always an “aww damn” or a “oh shit” mumbled when someone dies. That’s more a problem with society though, I don’t know how I could hold the game responsible. As communications in games improve between players it’d be backward to hold the games responsible for the expectations you have of people (and admittedly I’ve got some pretty unrealistically high expectations to be turned off at people saying damn, but that’s the way I was raised).

I was playing one match of Unreal Championship and some guy couldn’t get enough of his voice as the robot. He kept singing “Sailing…takes me away to where I want to beeee.” We kept asking him to shut up, but we all just muted him or switched to a different channel.

The rest of the matches have been fun and pretty polite so far. It probably has to do with everyone being so new. People were asking about mutators, clans, weapon accuracy and being pretty cool about it.

The motoGp demo was the best thought. As soon as everyone got to the first hairpin after the straightaway all of us went flying off the course and ended up as a pile of limbs and motorcycles. Everyone craked up laughing. It was pretty cool.

All right, dammit, that sounds fun. I guess I’m going to have to run an Ethernet cable through my living room now.

  -Tom

Christopher Cross. Yeah. World’s most unattractive lead vocalist-- which is why his videos never got any airplay on VH1 or MTV.

I’m enjoying it quite a bit too, despite my usual “single player only!” thoughts. Mech Assault is very fun, and I finally learned some new tactics that are allowing me to tear it up. AFter finally getting the MotoGP demo to work I found it was a lot of fun, especially when you have a group of people at about the same skill level. Flying around turns and bumping people is a lot of fun.

The strangest thing that’s happened so far is that I made a MotoGP server with quite a number of people on it, the only problem was that a number of them only spoke Vietnamese. Maybe it’s not all that strange, but it was funny at the time :)

So I’m curious why the majority of people I hear are finding the multiplayer experience with Xbox Live superior to PC that of games. Is it because the games are optimized for broadband only, or is there some technical reason why a console TCP/IP stack would somehow be superior to a PC one?

I was playing Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2 online this afternoon, and it was warp city, which is really annoying when you’re trying to pass someone and they suddenly disappear. This was in games with eight people, who knows what the hosts were running. Is that the problem, the variety of PC hosts? I mean, it’s the same Internet as Xbox Live, right?

I didn’t see anyone making claims yet that this is better than PC online gaming. I will say that Mech Assault is better than several specific PC games online, but that’s hardly indicative of either Xbox Live or PC Gaming as a whole.

Take your Need For Speed example. From just your description, then yeah, my Xbox Live experience is better than your PC Gaming experience. I’ve seen no lag, and only one instance in all my matches so far of a player warping a bit. But: Mech Assault and Need For Speed are completely different games. If there’s a little fudging of the server to keep things smooth no one will notice; there are no headshots like counter-strike and in fact a lot of weapons lock-on to enemies. Small discrepancies in accuracy can go unnoticed. Need For Speed on the other hand would be pretty obvious if the cars start jumping around and there’s not much the server can do towards being lenient. Quite possibly more important than any of this would be our networking conditions; I don’t know what you’re using to connect and I honestly don’t know a great deal about what my university is using to get me running.

There are too many factors and unknowns to say Xbox Live is better than PC gaming; I think the enthusiasm you’re seeing here is mostly the “Wow, this actually works, and works well” variety. To a lot of people, taking consoles online is still new and uncharted territory and it’s nice to see they’re having a good time of it.

Thinking about my last post, does anyone have Unreal Championship for their Xbox? Most impressions of Live so far have been from Mech Assault. I’d be interested to see a comparison from the same person of the network performance of the two Unreals.

I have played both Unreal Championship and Unreal 2003 (not that much, though, only a few hours) and it is a very, very similar experience to me. There is the usual amount of lag and jumping at the beginnning of each level as players enter the game, but once everyone is going, I haven’t had almost any problems with lag at all in UC.

However, a few things should be kept in mind:

  • this was on day 3 of the service, so there weren’t a ton of people playing it.

  • i never played against more than 5 opponents

  • i only played with the optimatch service which links you by ranking and ping

  • sniping on the consoles absolutely sucks, so many CTF and DOM maps were made much less exciting than the PC counterparts because a single sniper couldn’t hold down an open area.

  • on the other hand, with everyone on voice it is MUCH easier to have realistic team-based tactics. (especially good for the one newb running around and asking: I’ve got the flag. What do I do with it now?)

No such thing.

A broadband pipe just means that developers don’t have to do much in the way of bandwidth and/or packet optimization - just because they don’t.

Think of it as similar to the issue in which no matter how much memory or disk space your system has, there will come a game which will make you upgrade. The more you have, the more chances that developers will abuse it. Very, very few even bother to even think of optimizations when they don’t have to. On a broadband pipe, you can send entire state packets without hesitation - even when you know fully well that it could get fragmented.

The case for UC is simple : they already had very, very good networking. So it would’ve been a no-brainer for them to swing on over to Live! …oh look! broadband!! no more packet optimizations for 33.6 modems!.

XBox Live! being Broadband only is a damn good thing if you ask me. But rest assured, you will start to see lag, warping etc etc as more people hop on to play in the coming weeks. That should prove the point I’m making above I think.