Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich

Assorted Xbox Observations

December 17th, 2004 · No Comments · Gaming, Xbox

  • The Xbox Live headset, which has a mute button, should also have an “Away” button as well. It would serve as a mute, but games could read the status of the button and reflect it to other players. This would be useful when player have to answer the door, heed the call of nature, or both.
  • Ghost Recon 2 really needs to indicate who is speaking when a player uses voice chat. Rainbow Six does this, as does Halo 2. When you can have up to 16 people playing at a time, it’s crucial.
  • Whoever designed the multiplayer menu system for Ghost Recon 2 needs a slap. Either there’s too many nested itty-bitty menus, making a task like viewing the friends list an inordinate amount of button presses. Or there’s the opposite problem: common menu items are buried at the end of long lists of choice. For instance, the map choice option when you set up a game, something changed quite frequently, is buried at the end of the option list, after a bunch of options no one ever changes. The three most important options are: mission type, map, and difficulty, in that order.
  • Burnout 3 and Ghost Recon 2 need to grasp the idea of “friend slots”. Sometimes I wouldn’t mind opening up a game to the public so we could grab one or two new players, but I want to insure my buddies can get in the game. Neither game provides a way to do this. Rainbow 6 and Crimson Skies allow you to reserve a certain number of players in a game for people on your friends list.
  • Halo 2 should make the push-to-talk an option, and not a requirement. Halo 2 is a fun game, but it would be much more socialable and fun if we could just have an open channel (or at least an open team channel), like almost every other game. I understand why they did it (I think) and I would be happy if it were default, but I cannot fathom why they allow for practically everything else on a multiplayer game to be customized but that.
  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within has a very bad save/load mechanism that can cause a “shelf-level event“. Because you can backtrack levels, and because the map mechanism provides almost no useful detail, when you load the game it can be entirely unclear which direction is “forward.” This is compounded by areas frequently looking very familiar. So if you save a game, and come back several days later, you load and discover the game gives you practically no direction whatsoever on what to do next.
  • The Xbox Live friends list needs groups, just like an AIM buddy list. It would also be nice if players could attach a profile to their tag, and if there was a nice, platform neutral way to check if buddies are around. Right now there’s a hacked version of MSN messenger for the PC that can show XBL friends’ status, and the Xbox Live web site can do it too, but it uses Passport to authenticate, and thus logs out every 15 minutes.
  • More coop games. Especially more coop games that are not shooters or based entirely on fast reflexes. (Not that coop shooters are bad, but we have those.) Yes, I’m an old man now.

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