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Microsoft’s Hardware Team Went Through Nearly 200 Controller Designs For Its New Xbox One Console

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Microsoft’s forthcoming Xbox One console is the company’s vision for living room entertainment for the next half decade. Today at GigaOm’s Roadmap conference in San Francisco, Carl Ledbetter, who led the industrial design of the console, discussed how it came to fruition.

The design of the new console, according to Ledbetter, employs a resin molding technique that makes its appearance more similar to high-end televisions. This is a small point, but one that matters: Microsoft has taken hits from Sony that its console is less game focused than the PlayStation. Perhaps that’s fair. Recall that the Xbox 360 suffered from manufacturing defects at launch that led to the infamous Red Ring of Death. Presumably, we aren’t going to see a repeat of that, but it underscores how badly launches can go.

And as Microsoft increasingly points its console at the broader media market, it also breaks out of the young male-dominated gaming segment. Put another way, according to Ledbetter, 40 percent of Xbox’s users are women. That led to the changes in the Xbox One design. The controller was a simple pain point: It needed to accept more hand sizes. Ledbetter claims that they built nearly 200 models before they settled on one.

The final component Ledbetter hit on was voice. (I presume you are familiar with Xbox Music and don’t need me to walk you down that specific alley.) It’s easy to forget that Microsoft is, through the Xbox One and new Kinect sensor, bringing the first quality voice-control to Windows. The Xbox One, as you know, leans on the shared Windows core as part of its three operating systems.

Microsoft is betting half its new business model on selling hardware. If it can’t build strong devices, the company is about 50 cents short of a buck. The feel of the talk was that Microsoft is confident in its hardware package. In 17 days, we’ll start filling out its report card.

Top Image Credit: Flickr

Call Of Duty Ghosts: The Reveal Trailer

Today’s Xbox One reveal brought with it our first look at Call Of Duty Ghosts. As a long time fan of the series I must admit I’m intrigued by the shooter’s arrival on next generation consoles. While only a small glimpse was given, it appears as if the campaign will attempt to do something COD hasn’t done in years, offer up a touching story complete with characters we will care about. To help pull off this feat, Infinity Ward hired Oscar-winning screenplay writer Stephen Gaghan to pen the Call Of Duty Ghosts script.

Infinity Ward designed a new engine for COD Ghosts which will be a launch title for Xbox One and much to my dismay will continue the timed exclusive tradition of DLC first on Microsoft’s consoles. I guess we’ll have to wait for E3 to find out what role COD Ghosts will play on Sony‘s rival console, the PS4.

There’s a new A.I. system that will show up in everything from enemies to the fish that swim by you during underwater scenes. Dogs will take on a new role in Ghosts and act as a an integral part of your team and were modeled after real life dogs. I seriously hope Infinity Ward and Stephen Gaghan do not use the dogs for emotional leverage. I have built up enough guilt through the years having to kill several dogs called in from enemy killstreaks. I do not need my virtual pet and brother in arms to die for the sole purpose of pulling my heart-strings.

Multiplayer was not today’s main focus but we did learn that COD Ghosts maps will be “dynamic” including earthquakes, floods and player-triggered traps which will offer unique multiplayer experiences.

Far too little information was given today for me to form any kind of solid opinion on COD Ghosts. I’m excited to see what the new generation brings to a franchise I’ve been playing for nearly 10 years. Yet I’m also pessimistic that the COD franchise has what it takes to lead the FPS genre onto bigger and better things.

Here’s the official trailer released today and be sure to stay tuned to Don’t Hate The Geek for all things Call Of Duty.

It’s our own fault the Xbox One is so media heavy!

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I’ve complained, many peeps have complained, journalists have complained – the Xbox One event was way too centered on the media aspect of the console versus the gaming side. Not even a handful of games were presented last week but boy did Microsoft go crazy on the TV watching, the NFL happening and the sports playing. Sure we’re angry but we really have only ourselves to blame.

It’s a pretty simple thing, Microsoft is only giving us more of what we’ve been doing. I have a relatively small friends list (I’m pretty anti-social) and do you know what I see 70% of the time? People watching Netflix! Not playing Halo 4 or Skyrim but watching movies on the Netflix app. Watching videos on the dashboard, booting up Xbox video.

When you add up all the people who willingly, myself included, have spent any amount of time using the Xbox 360 for anything other than gaming then it really is no wonder why MS went full tilt on bringing more media options to the table. Major Nelson always has a list ready of the weekly top Live games played but I wonder what it would look like if they tabulated everything used on the 360. I have a feeling Netflix would reign supreme.

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If you want Microsoft to start banking on the games, start playing them more than watching Warehouse 13 on your Xbox. Get some buddies together and go looting in Borderlands 2. Just play some damn games and refocus the console to a gaming machine. Just my 2 .

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