This fall, Mountain Dew and Doritos will give fans the opportunity to get their hands on thousands of Xbox One consoles through the biggest gaming promotion in brand history. To celebrate the partnership and a new generation of gaming, I have a couple of deluxe DEW/Doritos/Xbox One commemorative kits, complete with limited edition DEW and Doritos products. To enter, leave a comment below and tell me what Xbox One game you are most excited about. I’ll pull two random winners next week to win one of these exclusive commemorative kits.
More on http://www.dewanddoritos.com/
The rules: Deadline to enter is 11:59am Pacific on June 21, 2013. 2 randomly selected winner will be notified by e-mail or Twitter. One entry per person. Read this if you have questions about the Disqus commenting system. Contest is open to US residents only.
Note: If you do not have an e-mail address or Twitter name associated with your Disqus login, you must include your Twitter information in your comment to be eligible. Any winner who does not respond to my notification within 72 hours will forfeit the prize. For faster notification, follow me on Twitter where I can DM you if you won.
Today we talked about some of the changes to the new achievements system coming with Xbox One. We just got done hearing from Chad Gibson, Principle Group Program manager for Xbox Live Gaming features and Mike Lavin, Sr. Global Product Marketing manager for Xbox Live on our live broadcast. This morning, we asked Cierra McDonald to explain some of the achievement changes in greater detail for us. Here is what she wrote for you guys
Ahoy! My name is Cierra McDonald. I’m from Chicago, I’m an Illini (I-L-L!!!), and most pertinently, I’m the Program Manager for the Xbox Live Achievements service. My love of gaming started as a wee child, playing Super Mario Bros. at home and joining friends on Altered Beast and Contra at the local arcade. My family’s team sport is Boggle. And apropos of nothing, I once shattered my elbow – or as my surgeon once put it, it’s like Humpty Dumpty fell onto a diamond surface. Fun facts!
Achievements are like a delicious gravy (or a fudge sauce, for the more dessert-minded) on top of a developer’s tasty meal of a game. Playing the game is fun by itself; and achievements add an extra layer of discovery, exploration, and accomplishment that reinforces the natural enjoyment of the gameplay. For Xbox One, my team (an incredible group of smart, hardworking folks) and I have rebuilt the Achievements system to be more powerful and more flexible so that developers and publishers can deliver more interesting, complex, and fulfilling goals and rewards to you. What exactly does that mean?
Let’s start with what you get.
Xbox blazed the trail back in 2005 by introducing Xbox Live Achievements as a metagame whose cumulative score – Gamerscore – spans across games on every Xbox Live platform. Many of today’s gaming systems followed our model and now offer achievements or badges as well. With Xbox One, we are once again breaking the mold and this time, we want consumers to reap more tangible benefits. In addition to Gamerscore, which will remain as a critical part of the Xbox gaming experience (and yes, your Gamerscore from Xbox 360 will carry forward to Xbox One – there’s only ONE Gamerscore (see what I did there?)), consumers can now unlock digital artwork, new maps, unlockable characters, and temporary stat boosts via achievements. And this is not limited to games! Other Xbox One applications such as video and music apps can now use Achievements to bring you awesome sneak peek content, early access, or subscription extensions. Only games will give you Gamerscore.
Cool, you can earn cool stuff with Xbox LIVE Achievements. Let’s talk about how they work.
There are now two types of Achievements: achievements and challenges. An achievement is probably already familiar. There’s a goal or activity you must accomplish and a reward that you receive upon completion. You can unlock an achievement at any time, be it on a game’s launch day or 3 years later. I guess you can say an achievement is like a promise in that sense. A challenge, on the other hand, is more like an opportunity – better grab it while you can! It is also comprised of a goal and a reward; however, challenges are time-bound (as in, real life time). That means you can only unlock during its eligible time window, and if you get close but don’t complete the goal when it ends… *Kanye shrug*
Achievements and challenges are both officially considered Xbox Live Achievements, so they inherit many of the same benefits:
- You can unlock them and win their rewards;
- Once unlocked, they are saved to your achievement history;
- They each have an icon to visualize the cool thing you did;
- They often are associated with a Game DVR capture to show your friends that you are better than they are
- Developers can release more of them after the game’s initial release (more on that in a bit).
There are also some notable differences between them:
Challenges are time based. As just noted, challenges are only available for a certain period of time. Only your activity during that timeframe will count toward unlocking the challenge. Achievements do not expire, so you can unlock them at your leisure.
Challenges do not give out Gamerscore. We want everyone to have the same shot at increasing their Gamerscore to its highest potential. Since challenges are intentionally temporary (an opportunity) and achievements never expire (a promise), only achievements may offer Gamerscore as a reward.
Challenges may cross titles, but achievements cannot. Achievements cannot be shared across titles whereas challenges are allowed to span multiple titles.
Challenges can be unlocked by the community. Community challenges are typically goals that exceed what a lone player can accomplish in the given period of time. Imagine, for example, a game releases a headshot weekend challenge that requires players to cumulatively headshot 1 million baddies in a 3 day period. And every person who participates and meets the challenge’s goals gets the unlock on his or her achievement history and reaps its reward.
Another really cool thing with the new Achievements system is that it’s cloud-powered. A magical term, I know, but it delivers real value to users. Check it out:
Having cloud-powered achievements makes it easy and consistent to run challenges across all players of a game simultaneously.
It makes it possible for developers to add new achievements and challenges after their game is initially released. Why is that good for you?
1) It means you can get new achievements without always being required to buy new content (read: free!) or download title updates.
2) It allows developers to learn from and respond to user activity and focus on adding stuff that you’ll find fun. For example, let’s say a certain game is known on community forums to have a fun little sub-game of kicking chickens. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the game developers noticed the community enjoying an unintended aspect of the game and creating a challenge around it, with a reward to boot?
3) It empowers developers to involve the community (that means YOU) in the achievement creation process. If they so choose, a developer could run a contest for users to submit and vote on challenge ideas, for example, with the winning idea being released to the public as a legitimate Xbox Live Achievement. Not too shabby!
Let’s bring it all home and talk about what you actually see.
- The Xbox One dashboard experience greatly improves how you discover and view Xbox Live Achievements.
- Ever wondered how far along you were toward completing an achievement, particularly those that involve a lot of collection or linear progress? With Xbox One, games may now expose your latest progression toward unlocking an achievement right on the dashboard, even before you launch the game.
- Quickly catch up on what your friends have been up with the achievement activity feed that keeps you informed about your friends’ latest unlocked achievements.
- Check out video clips of that magical moment when an achievement was unlocked.
- Easily discover upcoming challenges for a game at any time.
- Your achievement history has been transformed into a more beautiful gallery of achievement icons that properly show off your hard-earned victories.
You guys all rock, thanks from all of us here on our dev team. Can’t wait to see you on Live!
Earlier today I chatted with Chad Gibson, Principle Group Program manager for Xbox Live Gaming features and Mike Lavin, Sr. Global Product Marketing manager for Xbox Live on our live E3 broadcast. They outlined how the new Smart Match feature works on Xbox Live. Last week, before E3, I had a long conversation with Micheal Dunn from our team who leads the development on the new Smart Match system. I asked him to sum up what his team is putting together for all of us
I’m Micheal Dunn, Program Manager on Xbox Live Services. I love how console games and especially co-op games bring people together to “spend quality time.” It’s great to play with friends and family online, but it’s fun sometimes to try a new “bar” so to speak and meet new people to play with online. I’ve met people from all over the world while playing on Xbox Live.
We all have better things to do than wait for people to show up to play a game. It would be great if I could start up the flight sim game, see if anyone is online to play, put in my play request and then switch to something else while I wait for people to show up. That is what Smart Match on Xbox One allows people to do. It makes it easy for a title to create a match request and then “untether” me so I don’t need wait in the title while the match search is processing. I can switch to reading a quick social blog or watch a viral video and when the match is ready Xbox One tells me to pull me back into the title to play.
The new Smart Match service allows titles to change their match model from traditional peer-based host searching for players typical in Xbox 360 to now completely untethered cloud-based. The example I gave was for a low population title like a flight sim game, but there are also great results for the more popular shooter and sports titles too.
You will be able to launch a popular shooter or sports title and see the “typical wait time” for different online game modes. For example, imagine a match area for a quick match] that might have a wait time of 1 minute, and then another match area in the title for “match by downloadable content (DLC)” with typical wait time of 7 minutes. Chances are you’d never wait in a game for 7 minutes to play online, you’d just make do with “quick match” and lowest common denominator DLC. With Xbox One titles, you can instead pick the longer “match by DLC” option if you please, see it might take 7 minutes to find a match that night, and switch to another task while Smart Match in the cloud is searching for you. You end up with a much more enjoyable match result since you get to play with people with similar DLC versus just the lowest common denominator levels in the base title. You get to make the most use the latest map or car you just bought to keep the game play fresh and interesting, versus just going into quick match with the same options every night.
With Beacons in Xbox 360 you could set a toast to tell other friends of your desire to play a specific game online. Smart Match on Xbox One goes way beyond that to help you tap into the full player population for a title, versus just the friends you know, and means you skip waiting in a match search screen in the title. This is a true departure from consoles that don’t have a way to switch between tasks quickly. Plus over time Smart Match empowers Xbox One titles to unlock many more ways to play online without the penalty of segmenting the available pool of people each night to match with. This same pattern depending on the title can include player attributes to search for such as very specific skill or social elements like spoken language or even people of similar age. You will see lots of new play styles open up for online play as titles start to experiment more with match types, without you needing to be stuck waiting for players to show up.
With Xbox One, I’m looking forward to putting in my match request in for a super special online play style or specific DLC needed for a play mode, then kicking back and letting Xbox Live do the work to find me a good person to play with while I practice my mad skills. Here’s an example of playing Ryse and then getting a match ready toast to jump into Killer Instinct online play that was shown in Monday’s E3 presentation.
You can usually tell a family member to stop crunching on corn chips in your ear or yakking on the cell phone while they play with you. With a stranger you meet online it doesn’t always turn out that way though. Sometimes you meet someone online that decides it’s cool to hum Top 40 songs as they go through a match or sometimes meet someone that can’t seem to avoid swearing at everything that #$%^ happens to them. The majority of Xbox Live players are polite online and know how to socially adjust to the people they are playing with, but there are some bad apples you run into that just seem to like to cause trouble. With Xbox One we’ve built a new social reputation model to help expose people that aren’t fun to be around, and also create real consequences for those few bad apples that continue to harass our good players.
Sometimes it’s hard for strangers to know what “polite” means with different social norms and backgrounds, and even harder when you aren’t in the same room face to face with someone. You have few social cues to rely on, and typically a stranger sees no real reason to listen to your complaint about their behavior. We all care a lot about behavior on Xbox Live and player feedback options in Xbox One allows you to help educate those who don’t seem to follow good social gaming norms. We simplified the feedback mechanism also to be less of a “survey” and more direct feedback options, even linking things in like block or mute player actions into the feedback model.
All of the feedback from player’s online flow into the reputation service to evaluate a players online social reputation. The more hours you play online without causing others to have a horrible time the better your reputation will be, similar to the more hours your drive without an accident the better your driving record and insurance rates will be. Most players will have good reputations and be seen as “green” good players you’d enjoy playing with. Even those good players might receive a few player feedback reports each month and that is OK. Xbox Live is looking to identify players that are repeatedly disruptive on Xbox Live. We’ll identify those players with a lower reputation score and in the worse cases they will earn the “avoid me” reputation. Looking at someone’s gamer card you’ll be able to quickly see their reputation.
Smart Match sees their Xbox Live rep too and when a person’s social reputation gets low enough the service will only match those low reputation players with similar low reputation players. This gives them the benefit of playing with people just like them. Ultimately we want to help encourage good behavior between strangers. By the way, before a user ends up at this extremely low reputation level we will have sent many different alerts to the user reminding how their social gaming conduct is affecting lots of other gamers. The chart includes examples of the reputation score that will be seen in the gamercard.
This reputation system will evolve as we track the feedback we get from actual players and titles, plus add more consequences for bad apples that we want to stop #$%^ crunching on corn chips in your ear. All you need to do is block or report players that are abusive, cheat, or causing various amounts of non-fun mayhem and their social reputation will reflect that. We’ll keep the good friendly players together with other good friendly people, and keep a seat for the bad apples in their own special place. Our team and I built this for all of you and we hope you like it!
We’ve rounded up some familiar faces in the gaming industry to join me for our "Xbox @ E3" Live Coverage that will happen this week. Sign into Xbox LIVE on your console and join us Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week for a live one-hour show each day from the show floor. During each hour we’ll take a closer look at some of the announcements, interviews with developers, game play and more.
|Xbox @ E3 – LIVE coverage from the show||June 11||7p – 8p ET||Xbox LIVE (Silver and Gold)|
|Xbox @ E3 – LIVE coverage from the show||June 12||7p – 8p ET||Xbox LIVE (Silver and Gold)|
|Xbox @ E3 – LIVE coverage from the show||June 13||7p – 8p ET||Xbox LIVE (Silver and Gold)|
|Click for local time|
Summer of Arcade returns for what promises to be another exciting year of great games on Xbox Live. It doesn’t matter what kind of games you like, we’ve got a diverse line-up of games with something for everyone including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows from Activision, Flashback by Ubisoft, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons by 505 Games, and Charlie Murder from Microsoft Studios. Summer of Arcade kicks off August 7th.
I had the chance to chat with Emmett Shear, CEO of Twitch about the partnership we announced today at E3. Here is more information about the partnership, what Twitch offers gamers, and Shears’ favorite games.
Major Nelson (MN): What does Xbox One integration of Twitch mean for the future of live broadcasting?
Shear: This is our chance to break into the console space in a big way. To date, PC games have been the biggest things on Twitch, mostly because it’s incredibly difficult to broadcast console games today. The Xbox One integration means that Twitch users are going to be able to broadcast their console experiences even more easily than they can broadcast from PC. Live broadcasting your game is going to be for everyone in the future, not just people who can afford a capture card.
MN: What excites you most about coming to the Xbox platform, specifically Xbox One?
Shear: The Xbox One platform combines the best parts of console gaming with the best parts of PC gaming. Dedicated hardware for high level performance, combined with multitasking to run broadcasting and chat at the same time. The platform melds gaming with other activities in a way that we’ve never seen before. There’s no way we could have accomplished what we’re doing with the Xbox One on any other platform.
MN: In your wildest dreams, did you expect Twitch to blow up like it has over the last 18-24 months?
Shear: Well, probably in the wildest ones! In seriousness, I did not expect this amount of growth so fast. I always thought that game streaming was going to be big, but to see it take off the way it has is really gratifying. Of course as you grow you have all kinds of new, bigger, more interesting problems. So at the very least, it’s never boring!
MN: If I’m a gamer that has never experienced Twitch, how would you convince me that it is worthwhile?
Shear: It depends a lot on what kind of gamer you are. If you love Call of Duty multiplayer, Twitch offers you the chance to see some of the sickest kill streaks you’ve ever seen and watch tactics from the very best. If you love Minecraft worlds, Twitch lets you see all the mods you could be using and get inspiration for new creations. If you love League of Legends, Twitch is your chance to watch the top teams in the entire world battle for supremacy.
MN: What’s your favorite game to play?
Shear: I love all kinds of games. I’m kind of a game omnivore. Most recently I’ve actually been playing a lot of board games and card games. Magic: The Gathering, Small World, Coup. On the computer, usually Heart of the Swarm. My all-time most played game is almost certainly StarCraft: Broodwar. Close second to Super Smash Brothers.
MN: What’s your favorite game to watch other play?
Shear: Of course I enjoy watching games that I play, so Starcraft and Magic obviously rank highly. I actually love watching DOTA 2 and League of Legends as well, even though I don’t really play either. The strategic depth is really high and the games are super tense but it’s a genre I haven’t ever put the time in to learn myself.
MN: What has surprised you the most over the last 24 months?
Shear: The generosity of the Twitch community. I am continually surprised to see that not only will gamers on Twitch pull together to support each other and the broadcasters they love, they’ll find ways to support good causes around the world.
MN: Twitch is often associated with eSports, but there is a lot more being streamed than competitive gaming. Can you elaborate on what other types of content people are tuning in to Twitch to view?
Shear: While eSports is obviously an important part of what’s on Twitch, it’s actually a minority of the total content on the site. The other three major categories are educational, creative, and interactive content. Educational content is made from streams that people watch to learn from, like coaching or just detailed analytical commentary. Creative content is all about showing off exciting new things that people have figured out they can do in a game, stuff you never would have expected. And interactive content, the biggest set of content, is all about the viewer interacting with the streamer live in the middle of the stream. Obviously these categories can overlap, so you can have creative educational content, or interactive eSports content, but most things fall into one or the other.
MN: What has changed to make video games so popular among spectators?
Shear: Put simply: it’s now possible. Internet connections are fast enough and video encoding is widespread enough that it’s possible to create this content. Live video is a lot more bandwidth intensive than clip-based video, so it makes sense that it’s taking off later.
MN: What’s next for Twitch now that you’ve conquered the gaming space?
Shear: I wouldn’t say we’ve conquered the gaming space yet. We have a good start, but there’s a long way to go still. Until every single gamer on every platform knows they can catch the best gameplay and coolest new streams on Twitch, we’re not done.
*Available with supported games.
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Interview: Undead Labs studio founder Jeff Strain (21:55 - 49:50)