|Larry Hryb, Xbox's Major Nelson||Host||Xbox Live|
|Jeff Rubenstein||Co-Host||Xbox Live|
|Derek Neal||Cris Tales||24:71|
|Jason Ronald||Xbox Series X||1:07:54|
|Glass Bottom Games|
|Xbox Velocity Architecture|
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Larry Hryb: Hi. It's Larry Hryb, Xbox lives, major Nelson. Welcome to the video podcast this week. Let me hit the magic button and bring him in. There he is. Jeffrey.
Jeff Rubenstein: Larry, I've made a lot of improvements for you. I'm trying to up my game, and everything from literally from head to neck has been changed, overhauled for the show this week.
Larry Hryb: Tell me, tell me about these extraordinary
Jeff Rubenstein: I got a hair cut.
Larry Hryb: Yes.
Jeff Rubenstein: My first one in... four months, five months? With the mask on and everything.
Larry Hryb: And did you get that with a professional hair cutter? Or was that from a friend of the family or something like that?
Jeff Rubenstein: The fact that you have to ask is maybe not the best sign. So we'll move on from the hair very quickly.
Larry Hryb: It looks great.
Jeff Rubenstein: It took... The years just melted away along as all the gray hair sort of came off, got a pair of these for the show.
Larry Hryb: Yeah. You know what's funny is, I've... Tilt to the side, people could see that. Those are the Surface Headphones.
Jeff Rubenstein: Surface Headphones 2.
Larry Hryb: 2.
Jeff Rubenstein: 2, 2.
Larry Hryb: 1, 2.
Jeff Rubenstein: They have a pretty cool because sometimes... Well, yes. Check, check, check. One, two, is this on? You can adjust here the amount of noise canceling and as somebody who's on calls a significant portion of the day, being on noise canceling for a long period of time, it gives me a bit of a headache. And so the fact that I can sort of lighten it up and let... You can actually boost the things coming in. So you can do sort of the opposite of noise canceling. Exactly, which is really cool. So you don't have to be sort of in a bubble. You can have the privacy of the call, but also still be in your world, which is great.
Larry Hryb: At the end of the day, it's really important when you're on that call with Phil, that you hear the garbage truck outside. It's critical.
Jeff Rubenstein: He wants to know that everything is being collected, that the infrastructure's in place. Phil has a lot of interests and he's keeping the town in line.
Larry Hryb: He's caring, he's caring.
Jeff Rubenstein: He's caring. And then lastly, we both got, you got... So while we were recording the show last week, you got an Elgato Wave:3 microphone.
Larry Hryb: Yeah here it is.
Jeff Rubenstein: And I got one, shortly thereafter. So, we want to... We're doing this video thing. Normally. Normal... Normal doesn't exist anymore, but the old world, we would get into a room with a professional audio person, and we would do all that stuff. We're doing this on our own now.
Larry Hryb: And it shows.
Jeff Rubenstein: And I was using a cheapy mic. And the good folks at Elgato, it was making their ears bleed. Listening to us talk with subpar... Especially me. With subpar audio.
Larry Hryb: I had my audio dialed in. You were talking to me through the microphone through your laptop. And I was like, "No, you can't do that. You can't do that."
Jeff Rubenstein: That was effectively the case. So I want to thank the good folks at Elgato. Shout out to Miguel Lozada-
Larry Hryb: Yes thank you Miguel.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... for sending us this beautiful Wave:3 microphone. We work with Elgato stuff all the time.
Larry Hryb: How do you have your... Do you have yours on a mic arm?
Jeff Rubenstein: I do, yes. There's like this.
Larry Hryb: Yeah. Standard mic. I had mine on mic arms, but I actually ended up mounting it on this little tripod, because my desk is adjustable so I was kind of able to get it so it's close enough to my face, but it's not... Well here I'll show you. So it's not all in the picture. So, I was able to do that.
Jeff Rubenstein: Well, what's crazy is, this type of stuff... When I was growing up, in high school, I worked in a radio station. And I could never have dreamed of affording even a single microphone. And-
Larry Hryb: WEGL Eagle Radio.
Jeff Rubenstein: It was a WKPX, 88.5, South Florida's Radio Alternative. That was a thing. Anyways...
Larry Hryb: Wait a minute.
Jeff Rubenstein: But now this stuff is very affordable. This mic arm cost $15 on Amazon, and it-
Larry Hryb: But hey, it's here in two days.
Jeff Rubenstein: Effectively, it was good for what I had back then.
Larry Hryb: Yeah.
Jeff Rubenstein: Exactly, exactly. And-
Larry Hryb: Well it's funny you say that, because I have... I don't know if... I think I've mentioned this before, is I have a former boss of mine. A lot of friends of mine work at SiriusXM. Of course, I've been on the shows over there and whatnot. But a friend of mine, a former boss of mine is-
Jeff Rubenstein: Put you on Tuesdays, I've noticed. You're always on Tuesdays. I don't know why that is.
Larry Hryb: Well you specifically asked I'm on Tuesdays, on Lord Sear. But a friend of mine, my old manager, he does middays on the 70's station. Jaybeau Jones, talks like this, "Jaybeau Jones". And Jaybeau, love Jaybeau, he's a hardcore radio guy. And he was showing me-
Jeff Rubenstein: Really? With a name like Jaybeau, he's a hardcore radio guy? Never saw that coming.
Larry Hryb: "Jaybeau Jones". Well, if you're listening to the 70's, tune him in and tell him I sent you. Anyway, he was showing me his gear, and we were talking one day about how yeah, when we worked in radio, it was like a million dollar studio and this and that. And now you can do it for like, for pennies on the dollar. It's ridiculous. And get just as good quality.
Jeff Rubenstein: For 200 bucks you can set it all up. Exactly. And so for those of you who are creating podcasts, or getting into streaming, or YouTube videos, it's just amazing what you can do from home now. And I think that's why we're seeing like stars arise from anywhere. And I don't know. It's really cool. I love the democratization. You don't have to be living in LA or New York to have access to these types of facilities. You can do it anywhere.
Larry Hryb: Or South Florida.
Jeff Rubenstein: Or South Florida. Did I ever tell you who used to come into the radio station when I worked there in high school?
Larry Hryb: No, no.
Jeff Rubenstein: Somebody named Brian Warner who you might know a little better as Marilyn Manson.
Larry Hryb: What? Tell me about that part, actually.
Jeff Rubenstein: And he would drop off cassettes of his songs. This is before his first album came out.
Larry Hryb: Sure.
Jeff Rubenstein: I was not friends with him or anything like that. He was a older guy, but he lived in South Florida. And he would bring by and he was this talented local band, and when he would drop off a new tape, everyone would be like, "Oh, Marilyn Manson brought something by." And we'd listened to it. And it sounded like... I mean, it was good. I mean, think what you would have him. He was obviously much more talented than your average sort of local person just shredding on a guitar. And did a lot of weird samples and things like that. He seemed to be very obsessed with Scooby-Doo back then.
Larry Hryb: This would have been 90, what?
Jeff Rubenstein: It was the early 90s, I guess? Mid 90s? And I was a freshman in high school. And so I was just... We would just play the songs. But it was pretty crazy. And then when his first album came out, Portrait of the American Family, he thanked the radio station. So I thought it was funny. We also had Nas come through who was a famous rapper. And so it was like, despite being a small radio station based out of a high school, it was actually the most powerful high school radio station in America in terms of wattage. And it went all through like Miami and Fort Lauderdale-
Larry Hryb: Well especially down there because of the nature of-
Jeff Rubenstein: ... and so we got people in.
Larry Hryb: Yeah, the nature of radio waves is because Florida is so flat that... You put up a stick with 50,000 Watts. It'll go all the way to Tallahassee, I bet you.
Jeff Rubenstein: Pretty much, as long as you're not on the wrong side of the sample road dump.
Larry Hryb: Right.
Jeff Rubenstein: The highest point, in Broward County. Anyways, what show are we on again?
Larry Hryb: Wait a minute. By the way, so if you're in South Florida and it's the early 90s, did the informer come by?
Jeff Rubenstein: Snow?
Larry Hryb: Yes.
Jeff Rubenstein: Snow is Canadian. Are you thinking Vanilla Ice?
Larry Hryb: Oh, Vanilla Ice. That's right, sorry.
Jeff Rubenstein: Ice, Snow... We would've-
Larry Hryb: Ice and Snow.
Jeff Rubenstein: We would've dreamed. We absolutely would have dreamed to have had Vanilla Ice come through at that time.
Larry Hryb: Anyway, here we are. We're back this week. We've got a bunch of great interviews as we kind of... We held a bunch of-
Jeff Rubenstein: Who'd you talk to?
Larry Hryb: ... interviews this week. We've got... Jason Ronald's going to talk about the Xbox Velocity Architecture. Which means our custom SSD. This is not an off the shelf, SSD. This is custom. It's going to explain about that and the whole pipeline and everything that's under that. We're going to learn about Cris Tales, which is a beautiful kind of love letter to JRPG's. What it's been called.
Jeff Rubenstein: I write those letters all the time.
Larry Hryb: They do. I know you're writing yours, "Dear diary..." And then another one is SkateBIRD. And we're reason we're interviewing Cris Tales and SkateBIRD is, fine the fact that they're coming to Xbox, but they're coming out in the idea of Xbox Demo Fest next week. So we'll talk to those developers later on in the show, and Jason Ronald. So, we've got a big show coming up. A really big show. And we've got Jeff here with the news.
Jeff Rubenstein: Well, what have you been playing Larry? I don't see you all week. So, let's hear about it.
Larry Hryb: I've been playing the, "Hey, I need to do this interview and Comcast went out on me" game. So, that was... My Comcast went out for a bunch of hours earlier this week. So that was frustrating.
Jeff Rubenstein: That's why we didn't get to play last night.
Larry Hryb: Yup.
Jeff Rubenstein: So you know what? I didn't play either. We did not play any-
Larry Hryb: No Apex.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... any Apex Legends-
Larry Hryb: Oh, I finished Mafia II.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... just because I was waiting for you.
Larry Hryb: I finished Mafia II.
Jeff Rubenstein: Oh.
Larry Hryb: Yeah.
Jeff Rubenstein: That's a good game. I enjoyed that game.
Larry Hryb: Loved it, loved it. So, finished that. What else? That's that's really all. Oh, I was playing the SpongeBob game. You can see that there.
Jeff Rubenstein: You know what? That came out last month and a lot of people were playing the SpongeBob game. I think it was just... It's the game we need right now.
Larry Hryb: Yeah, I know. You've always got a little time in your life for SpongeBob, right?
Jeff Rubenstein: SpongeBob is highly underrated.
Larry Hryb: Yeah.
Jeff Rubenstein: So, if you've got... Because look, I was a full grown adult when SpongeBob came out. And then I dated a girl who was like, "Trust me, it's funny-
Larry Hryb: Who was hot?
Jeff Rubenstein: ... you should watch it." It was also a full grown adult. Believe it or not. And more mature than me, which is really not saying much. And yet, she introduced me to SpongeBob. I was like, this show is actually really funny. I mean Tom Kenny, who's the voice, he was on Mr. Show. He's kind of an acclaimed comic at the time.
Larry Hryb: Funny story...
Jeff Rubenstein: Go on.
Larry Hryb: We were... When I was telling you about Jaybeau earlier, my old radio friend, we were going to hire him to work for us in Hartford. I believe Tom was going to do voices for us on one of our morning show. I mean, that was back in the day.
Jeff Rubenstein: And you were like, "He's no good. You're never going anywhere with this squishy bill, what is it? What do you call it? No. It's never going to... Get out of the business." Meanwhile, he's probably a billionaire now.
Larry Hryb: I am famously able to not forecast trends. I famously-
Jeff Rubenstein: You have me on your show, so obviously you're just still waiting for my ticket to come up and it hasn't happened. So...
Larry Hryb: We haven't bottomed out, have we?
Jeff Rubenstein: Oh, we've bottomed out.
Larry Hryb: Anyway. So, I'm playing SpongeBob. I'm playing... What else am I playing? That's really about it. I mean, and the Mafia and then a little bit of Apex. I just been having... I've been just so busy with it for the past week or so that I just haven't really had time to play a lot. So what about you? Tell me what you're playing. Because I see something in the back there. What do you have queued up?
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah, more love letters, letters to JRPG's... Cross Code behind me. Which is a game that just came out last week as part of Xbox Game Pass. And it is a interesting sort of Zelda meets JRPG, and sort of an action RPG, but with inventory management and stuff like that. It's pretty darn cool. It takes place in a world-
Larry Hryb: In a world.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... of sort of like virtual avatars. "In a world." Anyway, I played the first chapter of it the other night and it really absorbed me in it. While it looks 16-Bit, it runs super smooth and it plays and controls like a modern game. And it's really smart. So again, it's part of Game Pass, go ahead and check it out.
Larry Hryb: Yeah. What are you waiting for?
Jeff Rubenstein: So, I highly recommend it. Exactly. It is a challenging game, but this is why we have game pass. So you can just say there's no risk. Just go ahead and try it and see if it sticks with you. And for me it has.
Larry Hryb: We've got Game Pass. Next week we have the ID at Xbox Demo Fest, which I think... Did I read properly? There's going to be almost a hundred demos they're going to drop next week?
Jeff Rubenstein: That's what I've read.
Larry Hryb: That's crazy.
Jeff Rubenstein: So yeah.
Larry Hryb: That's unbelievable.
Jeff Rubenstein: So, the folks that you'll be interviewing later in the show, you can listen to it, but then next week you'll get to try the live demos of those games. Which is really cool. Limited time demos.
Larry Hryb: I'm over at Xbox Wire right now, and I'm trying to find where is... Oh, here it is. Summer Game Fest.
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah, yeah. It's on the "speed bump", as we call it. If you just slide down right... yup.
Larry Hryb: This right here. And this is all the details about what's going on and everything else. And go ahead and check that out. And you can see this is Cris Tales right here. Let me... It's not behaving, but it's Cris Tales right there. But yeah, we will have a... We'll do those interviews later on. But yeah, we have a lot going on. Demos and Game Pass. If you want to play games, if you want to play a lot of games, you got to be on Xbox.
Jeff Rubenstein: I mean, it's true. And if you want to find out about more games, well, I mean, that's what the Xbox Game Showcase is for. Which, we know is going to be on July 23rd. Look at you, had it ready to go. 9:00 AM. We've already talked about this Ad Nauseam. There's nothing more to add other than, this is where you're going to want to be next week.
Larry Hryb: It's 12 noon. Pacific 9:00 AM Eastern, which... I don't have Graham here, so we can't do the... I think it's like, what is it?
Jeff Rubenstein: That'll be 5:00 PM BST, and 6:00 PM in central Europe. If we're... I was thinking a lot about Gamescom this week-
Larry Hryb: Really?
Jeff Rubenstein: ... and how bad I want to be there. Yeah. Around this time of year is when I would be getting ready. And, I got to get a hold of some Kölsch, and a good Schnitzel. And-
Larry Hryb: We've talked about it.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... just reminisce.
Larry Hryb: Speaking of Ad Nauseam, we've talked about it at length on this show. It's really about the... Aaron.
Jeff Rubenstein: It's about the [guppy 00:13:22] bears.
Larry Hryb: Right.
Jeff Rubenstein: It's about the guppy bears.
Larry Hryb: That's what's we're missing.
Jeff Rubenstein: So I got a question for you.
Larry Hryb: Yes?
Jeff Rubenstein: How are you staying fit, Larry? How are you getting exercise right now?
Larry Hryb: First of all, there's a massive assumption that I am staying fit. So...
Jeff Rubenstein: I was giving you the benefit of the doubt.
Larry Hryb: Thank you. I don't know. I go out and my daughter and I go for walks around the block and I like to keep moving. I can't sit... This is my home office where I'm working, just like you're working in yours. And I got to get up and walk around. It's just, it's too much for me. So I just like to get out and walk around. The weather's finally got nice here in Seattle for the next four days. So I'm looking forward-
Jeff Rubenstein: At best.
Larry Hryb: ... to staying outside. Why do you ask Jeffrey? Why do you ask?
Jeff Rubenstein: I ask because I'm teeing myself up as you, so definitely realized. Got ahold of this. Which is a Ring Fit Adventure. This is the sort of the major control that you would see. This is your joy con and it just sort of slides-
Larry Hryb: Didn't they do this for the Wii?
Jeff Rubenstein: ... onto here. They did. They have the Balance Board, the Wii Fit, which I never played.
Larry Hryb: I did the Wii Fit.
Jeff Rubenstein: But this is much more interesting. It just... This is... You did. We all did. But this is a full on sort of exercise RPG. And we're talking about RPG, that's all I need. You give me experience points, if I can level up. Sure, I'll exercise. And so this is... You do a lot of like upper body exercises where you're squeezing this. It's actually, it's pretty robust. You would think for a Nintendo game, that how much of a workout are you really going to get? Well, the answer is pretty... I've never been this sweaty. I didn't do it just now, but at the end, I'm hitting the showers because it is a real workout. And so it's kind of been tough to get ahold of. I managed to get it. Follow Stock Informer, which is a great site for if you're trying to get a hard to get-
Larry Hryb: Item.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... consumer device. If you're looking to get an Xbox One, and you're not able to find it, that site will just, it'll sound a horn when they show up at Amazon and then real quickly you hit buy it now. But yeah, I found that it was a darn good workout. And it's a fun kind of game. You actually have to plot it out, and certain types of exercises affect certain types of creatures more powerfully. And so I'm trying to min-max so that I have to do the least amount of exercise to beat the level. So, I don't know if that defeats the point. Probably.
Larry Hryb: I'm disappointed.
Jeff Rubenstein: But anyway, I thought it was really interesting.
Larry Hryb: I'm very disappointed.
Jeff Rubenstein: Why, why?
Larry Hryb: Because, at the very least we could get a demo. You got your-
Jeff Rubenstein: Believe me-
Larry Hryb: I see the-
Jeff Rubenstein: You want me to-
Larry Hryb: I see the switch behind you.
Jeff Rubenstein: You do a lot of these. No. Nobody wants to watch it. It's a lot of jogging in place and-
Larry Hryb: It's not on your Twitch channel?
Jeff Rubenstein: Knee bands-
Larry Hryb: Fit with Jeff.
Jeff Rubenstein: Sit and be fit, is more my speed. I think. If you've ever tuned into that on PBS.
Larry Hryb: Sit and be fit.
Jeff Rubenstein: Do you want to talk about the news, Larry? What else was I play?
Larry Hryb: I would love to talk about the news. Do you have news for us?
Jeff Rubenstein: It's not been quite a newsworthy week actually. And I almost don't know where to start, but I think I'm going to start with being invisible. Ooh, hey here I am.
Larry Hryb: You were so fit. You just disappeared.
Jeff Rubenstein: The weight is just falling off. I've gotten into an abyss. Halo 3, now available on PC as part of The Master Chief Collection. So, if you bought Master Chief Collection MCC on PC months ago, I think it was December when it launched with reach, and well guess what? Halo 3 is now out. It joins Halo: CE, joins Halo 2. I've read an article, the sporting say out of all of the PC versions thus far, it is the best one. I've been meaning to go through and just barrel through them.
Larry Hryb: Would you say the Definitive, Jeffery?
Jeff Rubenstein: I mean, I don't think it's officially called the Definitive Edition. But I downloaded it. I do want to give it a shot. I'm actually in the market for a gaming PC finally-
Larry Hryb: We're going to talk about that, yeah.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... because of our next piece of news. Yeah. We'll just talk about it in a second. But anyway, Halo 3's there for you now. It's on Windows 10. It's on Steam. Whatever your preferred storefront is there. Get after it. And, again, if you have MCC or you have Xbox Game Pass for PC, you've already got this game.
Larry Hryb: Yep.
Jeff Rubenstein: So just download it. It's great.
Larry Hryb: Download it.
Jeff Rubenstein: It's not even that many gigs. Yeah. Have a good time. We finally announced, finally. We announced the date for Flight Simulator and it is soon. It's only just about a month out.
Larry Hryb: I can't wait.
Jeff Rubenstein: August 18th. And that is coming to PC. It is coming to Xbox Game Pass for PC as well. So again, if you're an ultimate member you've already got... You're going to have access to this game. So I'm very excited. The game looks beautiful. We released another trailer along with this-
Larry Hryb: Have you ever taken flying lessons?
Jeff Rubenstein: Oh God, no. I'd be scared.
Larry Hryb: I have.
Jeff Rubenstein: Really? How'd that go?
Larry Hryb: It was terrifying. It was absolutely terrifying. I mean, I love flying and, my wife got it for me for my birthday one year. And I went up, and it was in Connecticut, and went over. It was beautiful and flying, but I was just like, you're up there you feel like you're flying around in an old jalopy. Things are... The doors are rattling and the winds coming in and it's a real visceral experience. But, I just don't trust myself to get a full on license. So, this is my chance to be able to fly around and enjoy the beautiful planet earth from the sky on my own. Safely.
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah. I mean, we used to travel a lot. And I've traveled up and down between Seattle and LA so many times. I can look out the window at any point in the flight and if it's not cloudy, I know exactly where we're at.
Larry Hryb: Likewise.
Jeff Rubenstein: I'd memorize that route. I know every mountain, every Lake, and every river. So, I'm kind of just looking forward to reenacting that and trying to land at LAX.
Larry Hryb: I'm the same way because sometimes-
Jeff Rubenstein: For whatever reason, that just sounds fun to me.
Larry Hryb: ... the rare times when you and I would travel, not together, sometimes the flight path would take me over your house and I'd send you photos as I'm "Hey there you are. I see you." So...
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah. Occasionally I would know what the weather was in LA by the flight path, because they would take us more to the East, over Lake Tahoe, if we were going to be landing in the normal way. But sometimes you would, very rarely but sometimes, have to land it off the ocean if the weather was blowing off the Santa Ana winds and all that stuff.
Larry Hryb: Right.
Jeff Rubenstein: So I love flying, and I miss it. And so, this will be really fun. But as a result, I am very actively in the market for a gaming PC. I haven't had a proper gaming PC since I built one so long ago that I had a sound blaster in it and a 3dfx Voodoo card. That's how long ago we're talking
Larry Hryb: Were you digitizing those Marilyn Manson cassettes at that time.
Jeff Rubenstein: It wasn't quite that long ago. But I built it... My benchmarking was Quake 3 Arena.
Larry Hryb: Okay.
Jeff Rubenstein: That's how long ago it's been, since I built a PC. So-
Larry Hryb: So am I coming over-
Jeff Rubenstein: Tell me.
Larry Hryb: ... to help build the PC?
Jeff Rubenstein: Well, that's the thing. I've been doing a lot of research, and it's like either [History is a Guy 00:00:20:35] tells me, "Oh, you got to build it." But then, I'm reading a lot of the prebuilds these days are actually pretty darn good. There's a lot more companies doing it these days. It's not like you're necessarily going into a big box store to buy something, and the people there don't know what they're doing. There's companies like Origin PC-
Larry Hryb: Which is who I got mine from.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... and even the imprints. Yes. And there's imprints like Omen from HP, and Alienware from Dell, and ASUS ROG. They all have really pretty cool designs, and good reputation. So, I'm doing a lot of research there. So, I feel like prebuilt probably makes the most sense, because I'll probably mess it up if I'm buying all these individual pieces. And I just don't know as much as I used to, when it comes to making a computer.
Larry Hryb: Yeah I mean that's why I-
Jeff Rubenstein: Then you watched a YouTuber and they make it look easy.
Larry Hryb: Yeah, I mean, I ended up getting... I built my own. I built many in the past. I love my newest one, which I don't have with me yet. It's on its way from Origin. So, this is not a promotional placement. I paid cash for it. But I know Kevin, the CEO pretty well, so I talked to him and they said, "This is what you want." So, that'll be coming in soon. So we should connect, I'll connect you with him and you can chat.
Jeff Rubenstein: Let me know how it is.
Larry Hryb: Yeah.
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah, yeah.
Larry Hryb: I'm excited to see flight simulator, I'll tell you that.
Jeff Rubenstein: Because I want to have this in place for August 18th. Yeah. I think it's going to be a thrill, and I know you're going to start to see some videos coming out towards the end of the month from different YouTubers and Flight Sim enthusiasts, and I can't wait to see where they go.
Larry Hryb: Yeah.
Jeff Rubenstein: I'm super excited for this one.
Larry Hryb: Yeah, exactly.
Jeff Rubenstein: Let's see, what else? Oh, Hey, guess what. We announced the next batch of Xbox Game Pass games, and it is a good one.
Larry Hryb: Yes we did. Hit them.
Jeff Rubenstein: It is a good one. So, I'll just start with the game I'm super excited for, and that is Yakuza Kiwami 2.
Larry Hryb: [Mori Kuzatah 00:22:22]
Jeff Rubenstein: And I think the Game Pass team, [Merry Mc 00:00:22:24] game pass, who you always see making the Game Pass on the Xbox Game Pass Twitter account. She's always... They've been teasing Yakuza Kiwami 2 for some time. This was originally promised-
Larry Hryb: Look at this list.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... as a X019. That's a really good list. So Carrion is coming out soon. I think it might even be available for download now. That's a game that Phil was actually-
Larry Hryb: July 23rd.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... on the Devolver show last weekend to talk about that. Yeah. Pre-install, so I just pre-installed it. That's what I was just going through this morning. Forager looks really cool. I kind of loved the vibe.
PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:23:04]
Jeff Rubenstein: ... really cool. I kind of loved the vibe of like a Stardew Valley type of game and Forger looks like it has some really interesting sort of elements of that. And of course Grounded from our friends Obsidian. So that's going into Xbox game preview, but you'll be able to get that as part of Xbox Game Pass for console and for PC. And that is at the end of the month, July 28th, I want to say.
Larry Hryb: There's the whole list of these, you can see them right in front of you.
Jeff Rubenstein: There's a lot of good stuff here. Golf With Friends I think is now on PC or it's coming to PC. It's already out on console and I think it was one of the more popular games on the service this past weekend.
Larry Hryb: Absolutely.
Jeff Rubenstein: So it's a good bunch of games. This is the time of year where we're learning about AAA games that will be coming out in the holiday and we'll be talking about that in a minute, but this is a great time to try smaller games to sort of expand your horizons a little bit. And that's what I'm doing.
Larry Hryb: Yeah.
Jeff Rubenstein: That's what you're doing. And it feels good.
Larry Hryb: And next week you're going to be able that with the X in a demo, Fast.
Jeff Rubenstein: Yes, exactly. Do you want to get into that? We can come back with some more news. What do you want to do?
Larry Hryb: Why don't we go ahead and do that. We'll bump into it. We'll go into Cris Tales and then we'll come back and then we'll do SkateBIRD and then we'll wrap up with Jason Ronald at the end. Does that sound all right?
Jeff Rubenstein: That'd be great. All right. It's your show, sir.
Larry Hryb: Excited about the ID at Xbox Demo Fest coming up next week. One of the games that is very highly anticipated is Cris Tales. Now, if you haven't seen this game, it's stunning. It is beautiful, but I've got the trailer right here. And when we come back, we are going to talk to the executive producer. So let's go out and take a look at that.
Joining us is Derek Neal, Executive Producer. And I want to just bring all his information up here. Derek, great to see you. And thanks for coming on the show to talk about Cris Tales, really excited to chat with you.
Derek Neal: Absolutely. It's great being here and thanks for having us on.
Larry Hryb: So tell us a little bit about the game. The game is stunning. We've kind of read a little bit about it. It's coming out later this year, we'll talk about that, it's an RPG, but tell us what what's going on there.
Derek Neal: Well, so to start with, you mentioned how beautiful the game looks and that's something that we take a lot of pride in. The whole thing is hand drawn. It's all hand animated frame by frame in the traditional style. It's not using cutouts or things like that. And not only that, but a lot of the stuff that's in the game, because you can interact with it in different time zones, in the past and the future, you can change events that occur, all those things that get handmade have to actually be made three, four, five, six, some items in the game have been made over 30 times, just one individual item, for all of the different states that they can exist in.
Larry Hryb: And is that because it's aging? Tell us why.
Derek Neal: Yeah, yeah. So one of the core mechanics of the game is that as you're walking around, you can constantly see the past, the present, and the future on the screen all at the same time. And so as you walk past someone you'll kind of see their life flash before your eyes. Where you will see what they were like as a child and then you'll see what they're like in the current time and then you'll see what they're like in the future. And of course, one of the major themes of the game is that you don't sort of have to accept what you see. You can change the way things were in the past or are in the present in order to change the way that those things develop in either the present or the future. So that you might see something, for example, like a ruined house or an area that's been flooded, or a person who dies, or a person who winds up sad for various other reasons, didn't get the job they want, it didn't work out with the lover that they were pursuing, but you can change those things. And if you change those things, then in real time, the future or the present will update and change and show you the results of your actions.
Larry Hryb: So wait a minute, so wait a minuet. So I'm going through the game and as I'm interacting with the characters and making choices, I can see what's going on in the future, but then the future is instantly changed because something I'm doing now is impacting the future. Did I capture that correctly?
Derek Neal: Correct, yeah.
Larry Hryb: Wow.
Derek Neal: That's 100% correct. And so some specific examples of things like this that happened in the game, there are places where if you speak to certain people and cause certain events to happen then certain relationships will form, people will be married, not married, have children, die, not die, they'll build their houses in different ways, they'll open or close stores that only exist if you take certain actions. There's also content that gets locked off. For example, in one of the early areas there's a guy who is being attacked by wolves. It's completely optional whether you want to save him or not. And if you don't save him, then he dies and isn't around to help you out with side quests and things later on.
Larry Hryb: Wow.
Derek Neal: So there's content, there're Dungeons, there're areas, there're things like that that either become accessible or become inaccessible depending on what decisions you make.
Larry Hryb: Designing games alone is incredibly challenging. I can't even imagine having to design the game with all of these storylines intertwined that may or may not happen or when they do having to anticipate how to project that forward in time.
Derek Neal: Getting a lot of those storylines to line up and to actually make sense and to not cause crazy time paradoxes and things like that has been quite a challenge. But we do have some strategies for dealing with some of that stuff, a lot of which has helped a lot. One is just good organization on the story side of things. Another is the way that we handle all of the time mechanics.
The way it works in the game is Crisbell is anchored in the present at all times. So she can see the past and the future and she can send objects and people into the past and the future and in that way can affect change. For example, she can send her friend, Matias the frog, into the past to go retrieve an item that you might need from the past. There's one place where an inventor tells you that they're going to need five years to get an invention. So you send your friend into the future, he retrieves the invention and then brings it back to the present so that you have it now. So these are the sorts of things that you can do in this game. But the thing is Crisbell herself never actually changes to the different time zones. She can affect other things, send other objects or people into the past and into the future.
Larry Hryb: But she's constant?
Derek Neal: But she's constantly in the present.
Larry Hryb: I see.
Derek Neal: And so it's always from her perspective. And so that gives us kind of a way to anchor the storytelling and to say that what we're showing is always from Crisbell's viewpoint. And so that this is the future based on the current world because Crisbell took this action and it means that you don't have to worry about her going back in time and killing her own grandmother or something like that.
Larry Hryb: I was reading over the X-Box Wire, we'll talk about that because you've got a demo coming up next week for the Demo Fest.
Derek Neal: Yeah, we're really excited about that.
Larry Hryb: But this has been called, a love letter to JRPGs. It's tell us about that because there's so many people who've really had these beloved JRPGs in mind. What does it mean to really write a love letter to JRPGs here in the West?
Derek Neal: Yeah. So two of those people who have these feelings of nostalgia and love for the kind of classic JRPGs are myself and Carlos Silva, who is the creative director and head of studio that's working on the game. We grew up playing games like Chrono Trigger, Secret of Manna, Final Fantasy Four, Final Fantasy Six, the Lufia series, these were some of our favorite games from our childhood. And this game takes a lot of inspiration from those games and also from some more modern classics.
I'll give you some examples of specific elements of inspiration. So for example, the combat system, it's a turn-based JRPG system. You've got skills and spells that you can cast, you can block and pass and attack and use items and all those things. But then it also has a timing based system in it where depending on when an attack hits an enemy, if you press the action button at the time that the attack hits the enemy, depending on how good your timing was, you can get various follow up attacks that might be changing the properties of the attack, like making a fire spell inflict the damage over time, a status aliment. It might be getting a critical hit. And there's different levels of success that you can have. So the better your timing is the stronger the enhanced effect of the attack is.
Larry Hryb: Right.
Derek Neal: You can do the same thing on Cris. And the reason I bring this up is because those mechanics are heavily inspired by games like Paper Mario, Super Mario RPG, and Legend of Dragoon, all of which had these kinds of timing based systems in them.
We also have a lot of other elements that will be familiar to anyone who has played these old school RPGs. So for example, there's a world map and there're vehicles that you can use to travel around the world map. And you slowly unlock new vehicles that allow you to... Kind of like the hovercraft into the airship. Our vehicles are a little bit different, they're unique to our world, but that's the kind of thing.
And you have all of the standard JRPG tropes that you'll expect. There's towns within inns and items stores. And there's a wandering merchant that you find in dungeons who is always in these strange precarious places that probably no merchants should be able to get to. And there's this huge quest that spans the whole world. Even things like the specific items that are in the game, like the flask of feathers and things like that, are clearly inspired by things from classic RPGs. You'll see-
Larry Hryb: Just...
Derek Neal: Yeah, go ahead.
Larry Hryb: No. I was just going to say, it sounds for those folks that are listening or watching that haven't played a JRPG, they could be going, "I can't go near this. This is going to blow my mind." So how do you make something like this, which has such sophisticated and deep gameplay and approach to it, how do you make it approachable so that people can kind of get pulled in?
Derek Neal: So a lot of it is learning curve. So one of the things that we try to do is introduce the complexities of the combat system slowly over time. So basically each new major area that Crisbell goes to, she unlocks new powers and the combat system becomes a little bit more complicated.
Larry Hryb: I see.
Derek Neal: So it starts off with just the timing system stuff. After about 45 minutes into the experience you gain the ability to send your enemies into the past or into the future. And so you can actually do things using Crisbell's time powers like, hey, this guy might be a powerful warrior now, but in the future he's a sickly old man. So I'm going to send him into the future where he's much weaker and fight him there. And you can do the same things with the past. You can send enemies into the past. And sometimes it might be a bad idea. So for example, you might have a dragon pup that if you send it into the future is a big, scary dragon, and may not be something that you want to tangle with.
But then there's lots of other mechanics. There's manipulation of the turn, there's team attacks that you build up called the synchro system, there're different ways to recombine status effects with Crisbell's time powers. For example, if you light an enemy on fire so that it's taking damage turn over turn, and then you send that enemy into the future, in the future it has already taken all of the fire damage and it's just a smoldering pile of ashes in the future.
Larry Hryb: Wow.
Derek Neal: All of these different mechanics, they get introduced stage by stage, kingdom by kingdom as you go through the game. So it starts off with just the timing mechanic and then builds on that with each new area that you go to.
Larry Hryb: That's also a subtle design. That's a very sophisticated design approach because it's tough to find out and try to understand when the player is comfortable and when you've equipped them with enough tools to kind of take that next challenge. With all your experience, you probably have some really clear ideas of when that is.
Derek Neal: I mean, unfortunately I can't say that I intuitively understand exactly when a player sort of gets that.
Larry Hryb: Sure.
Derek Neal: But what we do try to do is lots of play testing. We tried to get lots of honest feedback about it. We watch people that play through it, see where they struggle, see what they get intuitively, what needs better explanation. And that's really how we target it and figure out how quickly to dole these things out and what the pacing and tutorialization should be like for that stuff.
The other thing related to this is a lot of the stuff that I mentioned at the beginning, things like items shops and towns and vehicles and world maps and leveling systems and all of these things that people are used to from classic games, a lot of that stuff is going to be really familiar to people that have played those games, today they're very common tropes in video games. I expect most people will understand that stuff pretty intuitively.
Larry Hryb: Right. We talked a little bit at the beginning of the interview about the beauty of this game. And I found this screenshot here that I want to bring up here. This is just a screenshot, so it really doesn't do it any justice. We saw it in the trailer. How would you describe this art and the style that you guys have gone after?
Derek Neal: The inspirations for the art style is actually pretty interesting. Also, in that screenshot, if you could bring it up again for a moment. Cool. I mentioned you could see the past present and future on the screen all at the same time.
Larry Hryb: Yeah.
Derek Neal: And so that's a really good illustration of what-
So you can see on the left there that you have the past, in the center you have the present, and on the right you have the future. So on the left you can actually see the apothecary shop owner, June, with her father when he was an old man.
Larry Hryb: Right.
Derek Neal: And if you scroll over there, the father is gone now and she is grown up running the apothecary shop.
Larry Hryb: Oh, interesting.
Derek Neal: This is sort of how this whole thing works. But to answer your question about the art style, it's actually heavily inspired by Disney as well as things like Samurai Jack and Foster's Imaginary Friends and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends and some of these other things.
Larry Hryb: The classic animations.
Derek Neal: Yeah. Well, a certain variety of them for sure.
Larry Hryb: Sure.
Derek Neal: Although this game is heavily inspired by a lot of classic JRPGs we also wanted to break some new ground and do some things differently. So a lot of this stuff that I mentioned with the time mechanics, for example, is all new. To my knowledge no one has kind of put things together this way before, and it allows us to do a lot of cool and exciting things. But the other big inspiration for the art style is actually the development studio that's working on this game and most of the developers that are working on it are based out of Columbia in South America.
Larry Hryb: Interesting.
Derek Neal: And so actually pretty much all of the architecture that you see, all of the clothes of the people, the places, the regions that you go to are actually based on real life areas that really exist in Columbia. So the architecture of things in that screenshot, even that cathedral that you see in the distance there is almost almost line for line a real cathedral called the Lajas Cathedral in Columbia. People often don't realize, and I was shocked when I first started learning about it, people sort of don't realize a lot of the vibrant colors, a lot of the differences in culture, a lot of the cool areas that just exist all around the country. And a lot of that has inspired a lot of the things in the game. And when you see something and you think, that's just not believable, then you go Google it and you say, this is a real place on earth.
Larry Hryb: Right.
Derek Neal: And it's really shocking.
Larry Hryb: That's an interesting. I can't think of any role playing games that have ever taken place in Columbia. That's beyond me. And I know that it was inspired. [crosstalk 00:39:52].
Derek Neal: This one is in a fantasy world.
Oh, no, I'm sorry. This one's obviously in a fantasy world.
Larry Hryb: Sure.
Derek Neal: But it is heavily inspired by the regions of Columbia, which is where the bulk of the development team is located. There's kind of two centers of development. One is down in Columbia and the other is up in the San Francisco Bay area. I'm with the San Francisco Bay area team. But the vast majority of the art and the inspirations for it, the colors, the pallets, the architecture, the outfits, that's all Colombian.
Larry Hryb: Interesting. I want to ask you a question just a little bit about that. How has that been for your teams? Certainly being thousands of miles apart and on a different continent, it's a little bit challenging, but has it been even more so challenging, or have you adapted in this work from home world?
Derek Neal: There're always challenges in working across different time zones and working with people that are in a different area than you are. I'm going to be a little bit cheesy here and say that the truth of the matter is that our love of JRPGs transcends all boundaries and makes it really easy for us to work together.
Larry Hryb: Right.
Derek Neal: The truth of the matter is that we are very much on the same page when it comes to what we want to do with this game. And both the people in our office and the people in the Colombian studio are available pretty much any hour to get anything done that needs to be done. I can't tell you how many times I've had a late night discussion with Carlos because he's come up with some awesome idea and just can't wait to tell someone about it.
Larry Hryb: Right.
Derek Neal: So these are the sorts of things that happen. And the truth of the matter is that everything has kind of progressed these days to remote working, working from home, with the rest of this. Our main office is shut down at this point, we're all working remotely. So while initially it was maybe a little bit strange, it's the sort of thing that we've all had to become accustomed to. And now at this point, I feel like it's been worked out and is actually a really smooth arrangement.
Larry Hryb: Yeah.
Derek Neal: And it's going really well.
Larry Hryb: I appreciate you taking the time and I know I need to let you go, but I want to talk to you a little bit about the Demo Fest. We announced this earlier this month in July, ID at Xbox Demo Fest, you were, I think, one of the very first ones, right at the top of the post here. We've talked all about the game, the beauty, the time travel, the interaction, we've got a demo coming next week. And I want to talk to you about what can we expect in that demo?
Derek Neal: Yeah. So to break it down for you, there's a few different pieces of content. The main content is about a 45 minute slice of the game that you can play through starting from the beginning. It has tutorialization for some of the combat mechanics and things that I mentioned, not all of them will be introduced at this particular point, but it will also show off the time mechanics and how a lot of that gets integrated into the game. And then after that 45 minute experience, there's also a Coliseum Battle Mode. And in the Coliseum Battle Mode there're a number of fights that get progressively harder that you can try to work your way through. And if you're good and you strategize well, and you get good at the timing systems, you may be able to beat that. And there is a unique boss that's at the end of it for people that take the time, put in the effort to do that. So, all in, it's a fairly robust amount of content and we're really excited for everyone to get their hands on it.
Larry Hryb: And then of course, the full game comes out later this year. Do you have a date yet?
Derek Neal: Yeah. So November 17th is the official date. So hopefully coming out later this year. We can't wait for everyone to see it. It's been our baby. We've been working so hard on it and pouring so much love into it. It's going to be a really exciting moment for us when the full thing comes out and people are able to experience it in all of its glory.
Larry Hryb: There you go. Well, I look forward to that. Looking forward to getting the demo. Of course, I'll tweet that out as well. I'll tag you guys in that. Derek Neal, Executive Producer for Cris Tales, demo coming next week game coming out later this year. I appreciate you taking the time to explain that to us, Derek and stay safe and be well. Thank you very much.
Derek Neal: Thanks so much for having us and you, too. And everyone watching, stay safe.
Jeff Rubenstein: And once again, that is Cris Tales and you will get to play a demo of that really soon as part of the X-Box Summer Fest. The Summer Game Fest is coming up Tuesday, July 21st. That is next week. And it will go through July 27th. So you'll have about a week where you're going to find somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 demos in Play.
We talked about this a little bit last week, Larry, you get to experience what we get to, in the industry get to try at GDC, where it's like games in all various states of completion. And these are not, "marketing demos," these are games from developers that they want to know what you think, to play them, find something that works for you and let the developer know, hey, I like this about this game, or I would change this about the game. They're going to want that feedback. You can help make the game better. But it's also really cool to get to play things before they're out and it's free. So this is win-win-win there're several axes of wins along the way. [crosstalk 00:44:59]
Larry Hryb: And I wanted to interview bunch of folks for that. So we were able to talk to Cris Tales. There's just too many games, I can't do all the interviews. So another one is SkateBIRD, Jeff. Now, have you seen this game?
Jeff Rubenstein: I haven't. No. Tell me about SkateBIRD.
Larry Hryb: Well, I'll let the developer tell you about it. I'm just going to say... Here is basically the pitch, it's a skateboard game, but you're a bird. Skateboard game, but you're a bird. Okay. So you're able to kind of...
Jeff Rubenstein: You don't have to worry about wearing a helmet because you can just fly.
Larry Hryb: So anyway.
Jeff Rubenstein: I'm interested. Let's hear it.
Larry Hryb: Are you interested?
Jeff Rubenstein: I am interested, yeah.
Larry Hryb: Joining me today is Megan Fox, founder of Glass Bottom Games. Megan, great to see you today.
Speaker 1: Hello. Nice to see you too.
Larry Hryb: Now I'm real excited to chat with you because you have a very interesting game coming out as part of the ID at Xbox Demo Fest. It's called, and I've got a screenshot here, we'll show the video in just a minute, but it's called SkateBIRD.
PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:46:04]
Larry Hryb: SkateBIRD. So tell us about your game.
Megan Fox: So SkateBIRD is a game about a skateboarding bird that tries their best, which is kind of the whole concept there. Your big friends used to skate. They don't skate anymore. Now they have a terrible job and they're never at home to play with you. So you're going to fix all of that and fix their job and the world by being a cute little skateboarding bird.
Larry Hryb: Now-
Megan Fox: And how that happens we'll... yeah.
Larry Hryb: You'll find out. It's such a cute little game. Tell me about the idea concept and how you came up with this. Because it seems like, "Oh, of course, a skateboarding bird." When you see one of these things, it's like, of course it makes sense.
Megan Fox: So yeah, you can actually teach birds to skateboard, like literal birds. And my roommate showed me a GIF of a skateboarding bird that was clearly enjoying it. Like, they'd go down the ramp and they'd climb back up and they do it again. And then a light bulb went off and then I basically made that game.
Larry Hryb: It's tough for... You make it sound easy, like, "Oh, I just made a game." But tell me a little bit about your pathway that brought you to bringing this game and your history of the game industry.
Megan Fox: So I mean, I was doing my own stuff for years and years, hobbyist, et cetera, et cetera. My first professional job was a startup you've never heard of. I was doing graphics for a game called [Eidolon 00:01:21], which was a thing you can sort of search. But my first actual job was Lego Universe, which was with NetDevil and then Play-Well. And they eventually closed and I opened my own place. And then we did Jones on Fire, Hot Tin Roof, Spartan Fist, and now SkateBIRD.
Larry Hryb: Now, that's quite a path you got there. We're interviewing because SkateBIRD is part of the [email protected] game Fest, which starts next week, which means you're going to have a demo of SkateBIRD. You will actually be able to skate yourself. So tell us what's in the demo and what we can expect there.
Megan Fox: So the demo is kind of a quasi sandbox/slash/vertical slide/just have some fun. It's a bedroom with a small skate park, which you can see in the footage here. So there's kind of what you're skating on right now is a really, really overly large craft table. Like if you get back, the scale sort of feels weird, but someone just really likes their crafts. And then there's the desk beside it, which you kind of saw before. And one of the big changes in this demo versus ones you might've seen in the past is, as you can see, we've opened things up and there's a lot more open space and it creates a better flow. Before we struggled with you tended to hit things and et cetera, but this works better. Also, now if you jump off the a table, you will actually find everything else is collideable, and you can skate the bed if you can get up there.
Larry Hryb: Now, I want to talk to you about there's been a lot of different skate games in the past. How did you take your inspiration from some of those games and shrink it down to make it bird friendly, for lack of a better term?
Megan Fox: Well, the most obvious inspiration is Tony Hawk. That's where the control scheme comes from and the simplicity of play and so on and so forth, focus on big combos and big air over... Whereas skate tends to be more about the precision of "I'm going to do this really clean kick flip down this stair set."
And I wanted more of the big air, big expressive style of play, just cause it works better for birds. And it's also more of the kind of play that I enjoy and more of the kind of play that fell away. I mean, we've had a resurgence of skate games lately with Skater XL, Session, so on and so forth. And almost all of them are pushing really hard in the skate direction, even past skate into really SIM skating. SkateBIRD is going in the total opposite direction of, okay, let's pull it back to the arcadey weird goofy kind of not really serious skateboarding bird's direction and see what people want that too.
Larry Hryb: Now, have you reached out to Tony? Because I've had him on my show before, so I don't know if he knows that this is on the skate radar, but maybe we should connect you guys so you can talk about this.
Megan Fox: I mean, if you want to, that would be cool. I follow Tony Hawk and I've made a couple of jokes. Well, people continuously tag Tony Hawk whenever they're talking about SkateBIRD and I just kind of go, "Oh, sorry." So...
Larry Hryb: Having known him for a while and chatting, I'm sure he would absolutely get a kick out of this. Now you talked about the SkateBIRD, and I see the bird bouncing here. Does this SkateBIRD have a name?
Megan Fox: SkateBIRD is just Birb. They do not have a name.
Larry Hryb: Okay. I didn't know if we're going-
Megan Fox: Birb with a B, not D.
Larry Hryb: Birb. Got it.
Megan Fox: There you go.
Larry Hryb: And we can see that not only is he skating here, or she, not only is the bird skating, but also it's interesting as you get to use your wings as kind of a mechanic as well to add to the skating. Am I seeing this correctly?
Megan Fox: Yeah. Oh, I mean, Tony Hawk games always had big air and we're kind of using the birds flapping to cover that not feeling quite as weird. We're also-
Larry Hryb: Bigger air.
Megan Fox: Yeah, bigger air. We're also adding things like air ollies, which you would flap in mid-air and do a little jump. And as you can see, the bird never actually used their feet to push because birds don't do that, but you only need to push. So the bird actually uses their wings and does little flappies and it's all kind of fun and cute.
Larry Hryb: So it's accurate from that perspective.
Megan Fox: [crosstalk 00:51:21].
Larry Hryb: When is your game coming out? Because I mean, we're going to see the demo next week. When can we expect to play the full bird experience?
Megan Fox: It will be in early 2021. We have not announced a date beyond that.
Larry Hryb: Okay. So it's got a little bit of ways to go yet. And I mean, I don't want to pin you down too hard, because I know you're still in the development phase, but what can we expect in terms of levels or environments or skateboards and things like that?
Megan Fox: You're probably going to come see about a five levels. Some of them are big. Some of them will be small. The level you're seeing what the bedroom is one of the bigger levels, though, the final would actually have skate park-ish things everywhere, as opposed to just in one corner. And then there will be smaller, more focused levels that are more like, kind of just the size of the skate park area you're seeing here. And we're using the larger to be more sandbox experiences and the smaller to be more focused, okay, we really want you to focus and do this one thing. So yeah, about like that.
Larry Hryb: And you talked about the games for inspiration. I mean, pardon the question, but is there a game for bird inspiration as well? You got the skating inspiration, but how about the bird side of it?
Megan Fox: So there are a couple of good indie bird games that came before me. One of which is a Tiny Bird Garden, I believe. It's on mobile. It's cute. Very highly recommended. There's also games like... Well, I mean, Goose Game, everyone knows Goose Game.
Larry Hryb: Sure, of course.
Megan Fox: Goose Game came out after this and not really an inspiration, but it's a bird game. Another one's coming out later is Kiwi, which is a cute little game about two Kiwis that run a post office. Highly recommended. Again, not really an inspiration, just a bird game. I have trouble pulling direct inspirations about bird games, because there's kind of a resurgence of birds now that there wasn't before. And I don't really know why it's happening, but it's kind of cool.
Larry Hryb: Yeah. Well, it's interesting. I want to talk about one thing as we've seen a few different birds in the footage we have here. But this particular bird has, because why not, has a viking helmet on which I love that. So apparently you can dress Birb up?
Megan Fox: Yes. You can dress Birb up. Unlocking clothing, unlocking different boards, customizing however you want, so on and so forth, is a big part of the game.
Larry Hryb: Yeah. So I know that again, it's one of these games. And this is the beauty of video games is you come across kind of these, I don't want to say quirky, but something that's a little different, and this is definitely falling into that genre. Can you tell me a little bit about your team? How big is your team?
Megan Fox: Our core team is six, roughly. It's kind of hard to pin down because we're loosely knit, collaborative. All of us are remote. Most of us aren't full time, but just because... Alex does the bird art. Alex is the bird. And technically that's not huge. And it's just that, and they do other things because the bird doesn't take that much, but that doesn't mean that they're not super critical to the game because without the bird nothing happens. So it's kind of like that. So it's a core team of six and then a larger team, if you count all the wider collaborators and concept artists we've pulled on a few times and that kind of thing.
Larry Hryb: Yeah. And how long has the game been in development, if you don't mind me asking?
Megan Fox: About three or two... 2018, 2019. About two years so far, it'll be about three years whenever it's launched.
Larry Hryb: Total. So you guys are getting in the last third of production here, which I know is very critical. So sounds great. I'm looking forward to checking it out next week. If you're interested, it's going to be part of the [email protected] game Fez demo event. SkateBIRD You're going to be able to grind on bendy straws, kick flips over staplers, and carve killer lines through cardboard and sticky tape park.
So Megan Fox, I appreciate it. You are the founder of Gloss Bottom Games, and I wish you well, and I'm looking forward to maybe we can chat again when you get closer to launch.
Megan Fox: Sounds cool.
Jeff Rubenstein: And that is SkateBIRD. You're going to be able to play the demo next week. Full game will be out next year. That is 2021, if you can believe it, Larry.
Larry Hryb: Fun.
Jeff Rubenstein: Heck of a summer for skateboarding games, right?
Larry Hryb: That's what we were just talking about with the developers. Feels like skateboard games are kind of on this resurgence. Tony Hawk I had on the show a month and a half ago with his game and everybody's... Skate.
Jeff Rubenstein: There's a game called Skater XL that is coming out at the end of this month on Xbox as well. We have an article on Xbox Wire. This one looks really cool how they sort of used photogrammetry and some really cool motion capture stuff to get it.
Larry Hryb: What did you say? Photogrammetry?
Jeff Rubenstein: It's a thing. I might've misused it, but I did pronounce it right. So you get one or the other with me. Either I make the word up or I use it incorrectly, so... I didn't make it up. I just probably used it incorrectly. Anyway. There's a lot of cameras. It looks cool.
And then yeah, Tony Hawk, and then there's Session was an an [email protected] skateboarding game. So it's sort of been a golden age for skateboarding games, wouldn't you say?
Larry Hryb: And now it'll be a golden age for skateboarding games as birds. Avian skateboarding games.
Jeff Rubenstein: It's the new genre. Yes. It's going to be the new Roguelike. Everyone will be referring to it.
So more news here, Larry.
Larry Hryb: Yes. Why don't we go ahead and roll that news?
Jeff Rubenstein: If you're a Gears 5 fan, we're up to our operation four, so there's a series of operations have come out with basically content drops for Gears 5, and this is the fourth one since Gears came out last year. New characters, new maps, but the thing... And an overhaul of the rank system, which the team, or the coalition, has spent a lot of time on.Bbut I just wanted to call out because I saw this, you know who's coming back as a playable character?
Larry Hryb: Who?
Jeff Rubenstein: Dom. I'm ready to drop back into hoard and play with Dom.
Larry Hryb: Oh, boy. Okay. I did see that. That's-
Jeff Rubenstein: Dom, obviously, for the original Delta Squad. So [crosstalk 00:57:18]-
Larry Hryb: Well it's funny. The reason I knew this is because I'm friends with Carlos Ferraro, who does the voice of Dom and he loves the fans. So I know he's excited to be back as Dom.
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah, that was one of the ways I knew it was coming as I saw him tweeting about it. Carlos is a good guy.
So over the weekend last weekend, I don't know what you did, but I watched Ubisoft Forward.
Larry Hryb: Oh, of course I did.
Jeff Rubenstein: And for Xbox fans, there was a lot there to get behind. So we have a series of posts up on Xbox Wire from Ubisoft themselves, from the developers and folks on that team, on the comms team and all these different teams talking about Assassin's Creed, talking about Watchdogs Legion, talking about Far Cry 6. We have release dates for all of those games now. And the fact is seven months from now, we'll have all of those games in hand, which is kind of amazing.
So first up is Watchdogs Legion, which we kind of talked about last week, but I was under embargo. So I have a writeup actually on Xbox Wire about that game. I love London, [inaudible 00:58:22] now talked about it already on the show and...
Larry Hryb: Just right now London doesn't love us.
Jeff Rubenstein: London... Well, I mean the world... I can't go to Canada. It's right up the street. Literally, I go out here, I make a left, I go to Canada. No, not this time.
Anyway, but I got to travel to London, by playing Watchdogs Legion. It was really cool, the offices that we worked of when we have meetings and stuff were there. You know, it was just fun to drive around-
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:58:49] over the pharmacy? The one that we went to? Where is that one?
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah. Yeah.
Larry Hryb: Okay. I remember.
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah. That exact office that... I was like, "Well..." Very good. I was like, "If this is accurate, I'll just make a left here and I'll end up at the office," and made a left, and there it was.
Larry Hryb: Didn't we get something... Oh, we went to an espresso shop around the corner there, that's right. That's right.
Jeff Rubenstein: We did. We went to Cafe Nero over there, so-
Larry Hryb: Cafe Nero, that's right. That's right.
Jeff Rubenstein: I could use a good espresso right now, very much so. Anyway, Watchdogs Legion, really cool. And that's coming out at the end of October. I really enjoyed that one. If you like the sort of hacking stealth tech gameplay, and sort of a recruiting element, you can kind of catch them all, all these different types of people that can join [DedSec 00:59:27]. It's just really cool. This is a game I'm going to spend a lot of time with and I hope you enjoy it.
And then just a couple of weeks later, three weeks later, Assassin's Creed Valhalla is going to be launching on November 17th. So I got to play Watchdogs. Our coworker Will Tuttle, the editor in chief of Xbox Wire, he got to play Valhalla. I'm not saying I would want to trade because I love Watchdogs and I'm glad I got to play it, but I was jealous he got to play a Valhalla. I'm very excited for this.
Larry Hryb: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute.
Jeff Rubenstein: What, what, what, what, what?
Larry Hryb: I get that you're going to play Watchdogs.
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah.
Larry Hryb: I get Will's going to play AC. Why wasn't I playing Far Cry?
Jeff Rubenstein: They didn't have playable for Far Cry yet. [crosstalk 01:00:11].
Larry Hryb: That's right. That's because it's far out. That's too far out. Right.
Jeff Rubenstein: And yet it's not that far out. So February 18th, 2021, which is seven, eight months away, seven months away. [crosstalk 00:14:22].
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:14:23].
Jeff Rubenstein: Let's get Far Cry in here, because I'm very excited for that. And one of the really cool things... That the enemy, the big bad, in those games ever since Far Cry 3 with Vaas has always been really... Pagan Min was my favorite. Far Cry 4, it was voiced by Troy Baker and he was phenomenal. And then Far Cry 5 was Joseph Seed, if you remember that. We played a lot of Far Cry 5 together. That was a good time.
So Far Cry 6, it's Giancarlo Esposito, who you might know as Gus Fring from... He's such a great actor. Yeah. From breaking bad. And I think he's in Better Call Saul as well-
Larry Hryb: The Mandalorian.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... I'm a little behind on that one. Oh my God, yes. He's a good bad guy. Because he's not like physically imposing, he's not like six foot six, 250 wall of muscle. And yet he is scarier than any hulking bad guy. It's up here and it's in here in the eyes and he just he always looks disappointed in you. [crosstalk 01:01:24] except when he's disappointed, people die.
Larry Hryb: Yeah, I've probably watched all of Breaking Bad. I got to Breaking Bad so late. I remember when you joined the team, it was like peak Breaking Bad, and it was happening. And I started watching it probably three or four years ago. And I think I've watched the entire season probably three times since then and I pick up something new. And he's one of my favorites. I mean, he's just so good. Isn't he? He's just...
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah. Yeah. And the show wasn't quite the same once he was out of the picture. So he really was phenomenal. Even his backstory was just so cool. Anyway, I'm excited to have him. The fact that we're going to have him on our screens for Far Cry 6 this February is very exciting.
Lastly, they talked about Ghost Recon Breakpoint. So games that you get to play in the future? Good.
Larry Hryb: Oh, wait a minute. You know who he reminds me of? I just realized. He's got that evilness. He reminds me a little bit of Christoph Waltz.
Jeff Rubenstein: In the same way in that, yes, he's not physically imposing.
Larry Hryb: He's not imposing, but it's very cerebral.
Jeff Rubenstein: Very cerebral. He doesn't seem to lose his temper overtly either. Like he keeps it buttoned up. And yet Gus Fring is one of the best characters in recent TV history, for sure. Anyways, very excited for that.
So lastly, Ghost Recon Breakpoint. So it's a game that came out last year, I want to say. Huge update that is actually out today as you hear this, one of the things that was different from Ghost Recon Breakpoint from the previous Ghost Recon, whose name escapes me right now, where you're going through Bolivia, is you had AI teammates in that game. And Breakpoint was meant to be played with other people shot. But if you were running solo and you didn't have other teammates, it was a challenging game.
Well, they'd added AI teammates. I'm going to re download the updates. There's a lot of quality of life additions, new characters, all kinds of other stuff. And so that is available now. And if you haven't played Ghost Recon Breakpoint, but it sounds interesting to you now, there is a free game weekend. So if you're an Xbox Live gold member, you'll get to try it for free this weekend. I don't have... Let's say July 16th. So about the time you hear this. I don't have the exact time that that free weekend ends, but suffice to say, if you're listening to this somewhere on the 16th, 17th, 18th, in that range, you'll get to try Ghost Recon Breakpoint with the new additions for free. So-
Larry Hryb: What's not to like?
Jeff Rubenstein: What's not to like? I'm definitely going to jump back into that [crosstalk 01:03:47].
Larry Hryb: As you like to say, such a deal.
Jeff Rubenstein: What a deal, Larry, what a deal. And then just lastly, to tie a bow on Ubisoft, they also announced a major sale for Ubisoft Forward, up to 80% off of some of their games. If you haven't played, especially the previous Far Cry games, all of the previous Far Cry games individually are available for like, it's in the single digits. Far Cry 3, $3, Far Cry 4, $6. [inaudible 00:18:15].
Larry Hryb: Wow. Jeffrey, how can that be? Explain to me how that can be?
Jeff Rubenstein: You know, there are times when I think we're living in the worst timeline, and then I see deals like this and I realize, well, there is still a ray of hope. So if you have not played any of those games, 3, 4, or 5, you should, and you have essentially no excuse not to do it. These are games with dozens of hours of gameplay that are really fun. The later ones you can play in co-op, especially Far Cry 5 had the most well-developed co-op, but there are moments in four that you can play in co-op as well.
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 00:18:47].
Jeff Rubenstein: Man, we've got a lot of fun.
Larry Hryb: Was that 4?
Jeff Rubenstein: They all have helicopters, Larry.
Larry Hryb: No, no, it was the gyro-copter. I think that was 4. That's where you and I-
Jeff Rubenstein: That was 4, because remember what we did is we played it... Because in co-op we couldn't do the story missions in 4, but you could go through and you could get all the towers. And so together we got a copter, we went around to all of them and we sort of banged them out in an evening. And we had a lot of fun and it we barely scraped through. Matter of fact, it's so much sort of lining up, like, okay... I remember I would have a silent sniper right outside of the... Because you would take over these bases and you would run in and I would cover you. And sometimes it would go well, sometimes it wouldn't.
Larry Hryb: Sometimes it wouldn't. That's the fun of video games.
Jeff Rubenstein: That's what we do. So the idea of doing something like that with Far Cry 6 will be fun. Plus, it's got a big city in it, so there's never really been a real urban environment.
Larry Hryb: Oh, that's a good point.
Jeff Rubenstein: So anyways, anyways, we've talked about pretty much everything. And just lastly, Rocket Arena, which is sort of a 3V3 arena shooter with rockets. It does what it says on the tin. Alpha [inaudible 01:05:48] came out this week and we should probably give that a try. It's very colorful looking. It looks like something that might be fun to play with the kids against you, whatever it is. So it's out now, I'm going to give it a shot. Rocket Arena.
Larry Hryb: Awesome. All right, well listen. We talked about games, we've been talking about games and, that's what we're all about, games. But you kind of need some great hardware to run some of these games now and in the future. So I'm very excited that we had him on last month, Jason Ronald, who's the program manager for the Xbox Series X program. He's penned a series of posts on Xbox Wire, which are, internally we call them kind of explainers, which kind of explains some of the technology, right Jeff?
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah. We've seen what goes into, like physically, we've seen what goes into the Xbox Series X, the parts, the fan and the processor and the drive, the GPU and all of these different things. But the way they come together, sort of the magic that makes a console more than the sum of its parts, we call sort of the special sauce. It's really the Xbox philosophy architecture.
And that is I think the most interesting of all of the explainers that we've had so far, I think this is the coolest one, because this is how Jason Ronald explains how the team is able to take these individual components and make them do amazing things and be future-proof be something that you're going to be able to have in your living room under your TV for years and years and have it impress you repeatedly. So I think it's a really cool read, but if you don't want to read, here's a really cool video as well that sort of summarizes all these things.
Larry Hryb: Well, you know we're going to do? We are going to take a break here, talk to Jason. You're going to learn about the SSD. In fact, I think... Do I still have it here? I think I do have it. I kind of use this as a prop. This is not an Xbox Series XSSD. This is just one that I had my PC.
We're going to talk about why the series XSSD has actually got a lot of special sauce in it. So if you're ready for that, let's bring in Jason.
As promised, joining us today is Jason Ronald who's a good friend of the show and an expert when it comes to Xbox Series X. Jason, good to see you.
Jason Ronald: Good to see you. Larry. Excited to be back on.
Larry Hryb: Yeah, I mean, I asked you last time we had you on, we were talking about a bunch of the Xbox Series X features, some of the technical side, let's have you back on. We've had a couple of new features or kind of went into a little bit more detail about the last two features. And I wonder if we could kind of walk through this again. The first one is Xbox Series X Optimize with a capital O. Can you explain to us what that means, Jason?
Jason Ronald: It's a great question, Larry. when we think about optimize for Xbox Series X, what we're really focused on is highlighting titles that are taking full advantage of the next gen performance and capabilities of the Xbox Series X. And when we think about it, there's really kind of three classes of titles that are optimized for Xbox Series X. First are titles that are built natively to take full advantage of the Xbox Series X, titles like Halo Infinite, as an example. From day one, it'll take full advantage of the full capabilities of Xbox Series X. Then we have-
PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:09:04]
Jason Ronald: Full advantage of the full capabilities of Xbox Series X. Then we have some titles that are exclusive to next gen. These are titles that could not be done on any other generation of consoles. Games like the Medium or Scorn that are fully optimized for Xbox Series X. And then there're titles that have been previously released that the developer's actually going back, and they're actually enhancing or upgrading the title. Like Gears 5 to really take advantage of the next gen capabilities, to make sure that you're playing the best version of the game you've ever seen before.
Larry Hryb: And there's a lot of elements of what optimize means. You talked about the categories, but they could optimize the frame rate or load times. There's a bunch of different things that they can tweak?
Jason Ronald: Exactly. We give a lot of flexibility in creative control to the developers on how they want to take advantage of the Xbox Series X. So that can be everything from dramatic improvements in load times, or maybe a developer will go out and actually really lean into retracing to push their visuals higher than you've ever seen them before. Other titles will optimize for things like ultra high frame rates, because it's more of a competitive based game where it's critical to the gameplay experience. So we're just really excited to see what developers are starting to do with Xbox Series X. And I think you'll see [inaudible 01:10:18] of opportunities and enhancements across load portfolio.
Larry Hryb: So that's the optimized side of it. Now, the next part of it is you had a blog post on it earlier this week. It's the Xbox Velocity Architecture, and that's an umbrella for a lot of different kind of some elements. And I want to start by having you walk us through what you see as the Xbox Velocity Architecture.
Jason Ronald: It's a great question, Larry. So the Xbox Velocity Architecture really comprises four different components to come together to really be this next generation innovation unlike anything you've seen in a previous console. So at the base of the Xbox Velocity Architecture is our custom NVMe SSD, and this really opens up a lot of opportunities because it delivers more than 40 times the sort of throughput of the Xbox One, and it just really opens up a lot of new opportunities for us. Then we have the hardware decompression blocks which are really focused on offloading compression from the CPU to these dedicated blocks, so that developers can make their games smaller. So you have smaller footprint on the actual hard drive, or you have smaller downloads and you don't have to use CPU resources to go do that.
Next, you have direct storage, which is a brand new API that's been designed for this next generation storage. And it puts a lot more fine grain control in the developer's hands on how they actually optimize and select what data to load. And then sampler feedback streaming really brings all of these together. One of the things that we did with Xbox One X is we had a dedicated hardware to the Xbox One X to really understand how developers are leveraging memory. And one of the things that we discovered is oftentimes developers would actually load significantly more data than they would actually be needed by the GPU. So we customize our GPU and we added this new capability so that developers can load partial portions of a texture into memory, and acts as a multiplier beyond the actual IO speeds and the amount of memory in the box because developers can be that much more efficient in how they use the hardware.
Larry Hryb: So I want to get back to the custom NVMe SSD because we've heard a lot of folks talking about SSD as one of the buzz word of this generation around. And I want to be clear is that it's not like we just took a hard drive and I happen to have one here, no, this is for my PC. But it's not like we just took the hard drive and plopped it in there and we walked away. There's a lot of magic and a lot of engineering that has gone into getting this sustained read-write speed and the throughput, is that accurate?
Jason Ronald: Absolutely. So when we designed this, as we thought about the entire end-to-end system, we really designed this to make sure that there're no bottlenecks in the system, from the CPU, to the GPU, to the memory, to the Xbox Velocity Architecture. And one of the things that we heard from developers is, they need a guaranteed performance target to make sure that it's as easy as possible for them to optimize their title, and really get the best performance out of the system.
So as we design the Xbox velocity Architecture and the NVMe SSD, we've really optimized for that sustained throughput so that developers always know that they're guaranteed to get those minimum level of performance. And like the SSD that you showed, a lot of SSDs that maybe come in at PC, as an example, they'll slow down as they get hotter or the drive itself may put itself in a maintenance mode. And we don't want those things to happen while the game is actually playing, because those would lead to stutters and clips and things like that. So when you're running your game on the Xbox Velocity Architecture, you're always getting that guaranteed performance, and developers can really optimize their games to take advantage of it.
Larry Hryb: And we've got the internal NVMe SSD, but also works with the expansion card as well, correct? Because it's essentially the same thing.
Jason Ronald: Exactly. And that was one of the key design principles that we had is we knew there was going to be lots of players out there that wanted to expand their storage, and we wanted to make sure that that storage performed at the exact same rate as the internal storage so that as a developer, you're just guaranteed that same great experience. And then as a player I can choose where I actually want to store my game.
Larry Hryb: It's interesting because we've talked about how it's not just an off-the-shelf, it's highly optimized. Because you have to remember when people go over to like, I've done this, I go over to PC parts picker and I'm going through and I'm building my PC, sometimes something may be in there that I don't know, because I'm not an engineer, that may slow down the entire pipeline, but we've had our electrical engineers and our engineers go through it and make sure that every step of the way, everything is fast as an optimized as it possibly can be, because that's what you get when you've got custom hardware. And then on top of that, the custom software. Right?
Jason Ronald: Exactly. And that's one of the things, this is an area that we fully expect a lot of innovation over this generation, and we're really excited to see the early results we're already seeing, but there's going to be tremendous amount of innovation here over the generation. And that's where we work really closely with all the best developers from across the world to make sure that we're optimizing the hardware, we're optimizing the software. And it's really that deep integration between hardware and software that will really unlock those next generation capabilities.
Larry Hryb: So that's the key takeaway here. Is that this is not off-the-shelf. Everything in that stack is custom and it's highly optimized. We've heard a lot of folks talk about read-write speeds. And you yourself said that you expect a lot of innovation in this area. When we look at the next element, which is the hardware accelerated decompression. I mean, that kind of says what it is, but what does it mean to me as a gamer?
Jason Ronald: Sure. So, game assets are compressed to fit as many assets as you can on a disc or to minimize your download or to just be as respectful as possible of the user's actual storage. But when you actually use the data while the game is running, the data has to be decompressed. And if you were to do this on the CPU, it'll easily take two to four Zen 2 CPU cores, and that would actually take those cores away from the game developer and the game experience. So we didn't want to do that, so we created dedicated hardware decompression blocks, where the system actually offloads that processing from the CPU to these decomp box so that it's completely seamless from a developer's perspective, so they can basically request the data on demand as quickly as they need to, and the system handles this and they just get it just in time for when they need it.
Larry Hryb: So should I think about this like if I'm encoding a video at home on my PC, it's like Intel Quick Sync or something like that. It's something that's deep inside the chip or it's hardware related that allows the CPU and the GPU to do what they do, and this is going to handle that. Would that be accurate?
Jason Ronald: Exactly. And we also have a custom compression algorithm really designed around texture data because a large portion of the game sizes are actually driven by textures. So we've actually even optimized that very uniquely for our scenarios with texture data, to make sure that we can make this as fast as possible.
Larry Hryb: Now we're getting back a little bit to the SSD. We talked about the hardware and how it's optimized, one of those elements of optimization and that custom part is direct storage. And I guess, I mean that seems like it's pretty straightforward, but a lot of folks forget is that a lot of the way that we store information on storage devices, whether it's a hard drive or SSD, has remained unchanged for quite some time, right?
Jason Ronald: Absolutely. The traditional file APIs that developers have used were actually written more than 30 years ago. And if you think about how much technology changes in 30 years, and as we actually looked at kind of what the access patterns were and how developers design and build their IO streaming systems, it was very obvious we needed to innovate here as well, and just give a lot more control and flexibility to developers.
So with the new direct storage API, developers have fine grain control of how and when assets are loaded, they can build their own priority cues to be very intelligent. And what this really translates to as a gamer is if you think about a large, massive open-world environment, and I want to fast travel from one portion of the map to another, you've got to load all this new content in, or if maybe I'm going through an environment super quickly, how quickly can I load new texture data and new geometry data and to just really make sure developers have that fine grain control.
And once again to your earlier comment about optimization, this is part of that optimization because we need to make sure that our processor is fed with data at all times. You don't want the processor waiting for data coming off of the IO subsystem, because those are the things that will drop your frame rate or reduce the density or the complexity of the environments that you're in.
Larry Hryb: Now, one of the other areas of the Xbox Velocity Architecture and all of these are under that umbrella we're talking about, is the sampler feedbacks to me. And this is one that I'm kind of having trouble getting my head around. I don't know what [inaudible 01:19:38] is. So, tell us about that, because I will look at it this, and I think I get it, but this one's got me a little puzzled.
Jason Ronald: Sure. So when your game's actually running, and when you look at the scene, there's actually thousands of textures that are actually loaded into memory at any one time to produce that one frame of the game. And like I said before, with the Xbox One X, we put unique hardware in there to actually inventory how people were actually using memory. And one thing, when the objects get closer to you in the scene to give that crisp level of detail, you need a higher resolution texture to be able to sample and to generate those pixels.
But the challenge is those can slot a memory. They consume a lot of IO bandwidth. So knowing the fact that oftentimes we use less than a third of the data that's actually loaded into memory, we actually added customizations of the GPU that allows the GPU to load data on demand right before it needs it. So you don't have to load the entire texture into memory, you can load just a portion of it, and then every frame we can be that much more dynamic. So what it really comes down to is it drives efficiency. So you get even more performance well beyond the raw hardware specifications themselves, because developers can be that much more efficient in how they use it.
Larry Hryb: I want to talk about the fact that the hardware accelerated decompression, the direct storage API and the sampler feedback streaming, those three elements are frankly only possible because of the custom work we've done with the SSDs. Would that be an accurate statement?
Jason Ronald: If we think of the heart of the Xbox series X is our custom processor. Really the soul of the Xbox series X is the Xbox Velocity Architecture. And it really influenced a huge design point across all these systems. And as we think about the Xbox Velocity Architecture, it is that mirroring of the hardware capabilities that we've designed, the customizations that we've built on top of that, and then providing the right operating system and the right developer tools to really take full advantage of what we've designed in the system.
Larry Hryb: As I go through here, I'm looking at... I have the blog post, and I'll put a link to that in the thing below that you did earlier this week. The numbers that you're putting out here in terms of the IO and transferring data, these numbers are ginormous. I mean 100 gigabytes of data stored on the SSD just in time when the game requires, that's unbelievable, isn't it?
Jason Ronald: Yeah, and that's one of the things that we're super excited about is, even with the early results that we're already seeing, early this year, we showed how even back compat games get better on top of the Xbox series X by dramatically lowering the load times and whatnot. And that's raw hardware itself. As we think about games that are really built natively for this next generation or games that are really optimized to take full advantage of it, you're going to see even bigger innovation here. And I think it allows developers to fundamentally rethink and challenge some of their ideas of how they've designed and built games in the past. And I think it's just going to be an area ripe for innovation across the generation.
Larry Hryb: Now, Jason, again, you went into a great blog post on the site Xbox Wire that'll link to, but if you could do a TLDR on Xbox velocity Architecture, could you do that? What would it be?
Jason Ronald: It's a great question. Basically, what I would say is we designed this to be the ultimate solution for game asset streaming, and what it really comes down to is enabling developers to deliver on their creative vision with no constraints. And it acts as a multiplier on top of the raw performance that the hardware delivers, and it's really about making sure that players can get into their experiences as quickly as possible. It's about delivering a new level of fidelity, variety and density in the games that you're playing. And then it's really setting the foundation for future innovation in gaming unlike anything you've seen before.
Larry Hryb: I know you got to go, Jason, I appreciate you coming on again. We talked about Xbox series optimized, what that means, and of course the Xbox Velocity Architecture, which is just ridiculous speeds and all the custom hardware and all the custom work we've done to make gaming faster, better, higher resolution, all those things. I can't wait to see what some of our developing partners are going to do. So Jason, thanks so much for your time today.
Jason Ronald: Thank you very much, Larry.
Larry Hryb: Thanks Jason. There you go. SSD fast. SSD custom. SSD cool.
Jeff Rubenstein: It does all the things. I'm glad we have smart people working here because hearing them talk, I've learned so much just in the run up in the last six months or so about Series X just from being in the same room as these guys, it's really impressive. It's really cool.
Larry Hryb: So we've got all that. If you want to read more about it, of course, we talked about the Xbox where I'll have Jason on again later this year when we get closer to launch, because, well, he's just a great guests, and we love having smart people on this show to increase the IQ into double digits.
Jeff Rubenstein: I see what you did there.
Larry Hryb: Boy. Anyway, I don't have my mask with me. We're going to show off a new mask I got. I don't have it with me.
Jeff Rubenstein: Well, we'll have to save. And you're going to cliffhanger, Larry.
Larry Hryb: I didn't mean to.
Jeff Rubenstein: All the comments re going to say, where is the mask, Larry?.
Larry Hryb: A quick programming note. Next week we probably won't be around because of this. We're going to let this show which happens on Thursday, that's at 9:00 AM Pacific. That's 12:00 noon Eastern.
Jeff Rubenstein: You might not know this yet, Larry, but I'm actually putting you to work after that show. You're going to be showing up on a lot of podcasts. I don't know if you saw, Kind of Funny this week, they announced a creation of Xcast, which is an Xbox focused cast or podcast show-
Larry Hryb: I'm excited about that.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... that'll be airing, I want to say on Saturday. And so pretty excited about that. They're good folks there. I've known a lot of folks there. But there's a lot of PlayStation fanboys over there. That being said also some Xbox fans and they're going to have the outlet to do it-
Larry Hryb: Well, I've done the show before though.
Jeff Rubenstein: ... so I would say go support that.
Larry Hryb: We did it [inaudible 01:25:58] a couple of years ago, and it was great. Greg and I had a great time. I had a great time with everybody.
Jeff Rubenstein: Well, we'll have you on after the show. I'm going to have you show up in a couple of other places as well to talk more about what we're going to be showing next week. So super excited for that.
Larry Hryb: And just you the listener/viewer, just so you know, the dynamic, Jeff's my agent. So he's booking me these places.
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah, I get 15% right off the top.
Larry Hryb: Of nothing is nothing.
Jeff Rubenstein: Yes. I learned that math. My mom is very disappointed. I just got a late bait breaking bit of news here. So we talked about Ghost Recon Breakpoint being free this weekend. We always like to talk about what other games might be having a free play weekend. Well, there's two more actually. Ash of Gods: Redemption and Frostpunk. Frostpunk looks specifically cool. I'm not familiar with Ash of Gods: Redemption, but it's free. So I might get acquainted this weekend, more free stuff.
Larry Hryb: That's okay. We can do that. We're looking forward to playing... I don't know what we're going to play this weekend, but you can find me on Xbox Live all the time. You see me posting news. If you follow me on Xbox Live, you can see in the feed, I'll post some of the news that we talk about over here, game releases and all the rest of that stuff. Of course you can see all that at my blog at Majornelson.com as well. Of course you can see some of Jeff's lovely pros over at Xbox Wire.
Jeff Rubenstein: News.xbox.com. We all link together. It's all the same site.
Larry Hryb: And it's wired.Xbox.com too, right? Because that always drives me crazy that it's not that right. It is that right.
Jeff Rubenstein: Is it?
Larry Hryb: [crosstalk 01:27:27].
Jeff Rubenstein: We bought a bunch of URLs. I also think we got xbox.com/news. Anyway, you'll find it. It's not hard to find.
Larry Hryb: It's not hard to find. But if you have any comments about this show, let us know, drop them in the comments, hit us up on Twitter. If you want to hit us up on Twitter, it's pretty simple. You can see we're right there. That's not an email address.
Jeff Rubenstein: I was looking, I was like [email protected], but no.
Larry Hryb: Yeah, I do own that, but that's not what it is.
Jeff Rubenstein: [email protected] That's the old one.
Larry Hryb: That's right. I think I've had that since I've been beginning. So you can hit me up there. It can hit me up on Twitter. Sometimes I'm even over on the Reddit.
Jeff Rubenstein: Quite a bit. Sometimes they summon you. I love that Xbox One subreddit. I think they changed their name, and they're going to do like Series X. What are you going to do? Because it's such a great community there with the new generation, you don't want to lose those folks. What's their smart delivery? That's what I want to know.
Larry Hryb: Their smart delivery to go from One/RXbox one to... I don't know what they're going to do, because it's an unofficial subreddit so they can do whatever they want.
Jeff Rubenstein: Yes, they can. I just want to know where to be.
Larry Hryb: You know what? I don't even need to worry about it because I know they'll summons me wherever I am.
Jeff Rubenstein: I'm sure they'll find.... Yes, exactly.
Larry Hryb: I don't need to find them, they'll find me.
Jeff Rubenstein: The subreddit will come to you.
Larry Hryb: Yeah, that's that's the most important thing. Anyway, all right Jeffrey. Well, thanks again for joining me this week. As always, good to see you.
Jeff Rubenstein: Always a pleasure.
Larry Hryb: You dear listener and viewer, thank you for watching us. If you're watching this on YouTube, thank you over there. If you're listening to us the regular podcast, you can see the video form of this whole fiasco over at my YouTube channel, Youtube.com/hryb is my last name. Say it Jeff, say it.
Jeff Rubenstein: It is. Hryb.
Larry Hryb: No.
Jeff Rubenstein: H-R-Y-B. All right.
Larry Hryb: Like, subscribe.
Jeff Rubenstein: Like and subscribe. Thank you. And hit the bell. And it is interesting, because I'm starting to watch the show because I always look back. I'm starting to watch on YouTube instead of just on Spotify or whatever. But I think that's where most of your listeners are. They don't want to see us.
Larry Hryb: I agree.
Jeff Rubenstein: Why would they? The lighting. Look at, my God, the lighting.
Larry Hryb: Well, it's more importantly, now it's the microphones.
Jeff Rubenstein: It is.
Larry Hryb: We sound good.
Jeff Rubenstein: All the more reason.
Larry Hryb: All right. Hopefully you guys will enjoy the Xbox game showcase that's next week, July 23rd, 12:00 noon. Eastern 9:00 AM Pacific. What is that? 5:00 o'clock BST, Jeffrey?
Jeff Rubenstein: That's correct. Yes.
Larry Hryb: So, that's that's all you need to know.
Jeff Rubenstein: You can watch it on Twitch. You can watch it on YouTube. You can watch it on Facebook Gaming.
Larry Hryb: And there's a Jeff Kelly pre show, and I should've gotten Jeff Kelly on for this week. I don't know, I'll get him on next time.
Jeff Rubenstein: Yeah, you go the wrong Jeff on here. Make sure you watch that one too. Should be fun.
Larry Hryb: I'll have to talk to my agent about that. All right, gang. We'll talk to you next time. Bye-bye everybody.
Jeff Rubenstein: Bye.