snow_light_1Snow and ShivasFF_13_Crew

From the Vault: Final Fantasy XIII

In an earlier incarnation of GeekApproach, I wrote an awful lot about video games.  At the time I was doing work for the games industry and it was a logical extension of the sheer amount of free time I had to actually play said games.  Rather than spend more money (that I don’t have currently) on games, I thought I would go back and replay some titles that I have skipped or didn’t finish for some reason.  Enter Final Fantasy XIII.

The Final Fantasy series is rather legendary in gaming circles.  A cornerstone of the so-called, JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) genre, Final Fantasy (FF) titles have been on every major gaming system since their inception.  Beginning with Nintendo consoles, and moving hand-in-hand with Sony during the PlayStation 2 era, and finally being wooed by Microsoft in the X360 generation to at least make a multi-platform title.  Within the 7th-Gen lifespan that included Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3, and Nintendo’s Wii, Square-Enix managed to put out at least 3 FF titles that spanned the XIII universe: FF XIII, FF XIII-2, and FF XIII: Lightning Returns.  Around March 2010 the game was released worldwide after a holiday release in Japan the quarter prior.  The reviews were a mixed-bag with reviewers offering contradictory opinions on the games linearity, as well as its much-hyped “Paradigm” battle system. (more…)

Can Xbox One Be a Trojan Horse to Lure Developers? | Re/code

Can Xbox One Be a Trojan Horse to Lure Developers? | Re/code

Microsoft disclosed Wednesday that it plans to make it possible for developers to write a single program that can work across Windows, Windows Phone and, yes, the Xbox [One].

Dig it.  Can I predict another Microsoft purchase?  They’ll buy Xamarin which makes a great set of tools that integrate with Visual Studio to allow you to truly target one API and make it run on multiple devices.  My only gripe will be if they limit individual functionality on a per-device basis.

Can Xbox One Be a Trojan Horse to Lure Developers? | Re/code.

 

 

Kinnect Hacking: The Future of NUI

Kinnect Hacking: The Future of NUI

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently you’ll undoubtedly have seen the massive marketing push behind Microsoft’s latest offering, the Kinnect an add-on unit for its Xbox 360 console.  The Kinnect combines (in a very small package) an infrared camera, a VGA camera, a microphone array, and a pan-tilt motor assembly for creating image stabilization. All this to allow your Xbox to respond to gestural input, voice commands, and ushering in the new era of user interfaces: the buzzword NUI or Natural User Interface.

Kinnect Unit

Microsoft's Kinnect head-on

So why don’t I have one? I’m broke for one (ha ha).  But the idea of playing games using this format didn’t appeal to me– I owned a Nintendo Wii for 9 months before pitching it to my sister.  She gets way more use out of it then I ever did, and I’m what you’d call a “hardcore” gamer.  For $150 bones you can add this USB-device to your Xbox and impress your family and friends with its ability to surf your Netflix Watch Instantly queue using just the power of your arm muscles.

In the two weeks since its launch, a bounty was issued for an open-source compatible driver for the Kinnect.  One appeared within days and the explosion of development we’ve seen since then is a bit nuts.  I’m not entirely sure Microsoft cares how many units they sell that are attached to X360’s–I think they’ll continue to sell like hotcakes regardless of where they’re plugged in.  Yesterday I spotted an online guide as an intro to USB hacking using the Kinnect as an example.  It’s by far one of the nerdiest things I’ve seen online lately and it rubs two critical spots for me: teaching the masses, using brand-new shiny hardware for new and different things.

Trolling USB messages for relevant memory addresses...

Trolling USB messages for relevant memory addresses...

Be warned, the guide is not for the faint of heart but it goes into some critical detail for those of you who want to get your hands dirty.

Kinnect represent like all things Microsoft a veiled attempt to push their vision into your life.  15 years ago when Bill Gates was talking about WebTV (shudder) he wanted one in every living room.  While WebTV died, a lot of living rooms contain a gaming console of some type.

Star Trek Holodeck

Star Trek Holodeck

The X360 with Microsoft’s mighty weight behind it is morphing from a game console to a  living room media playback device, and now even more so.  By taking the traditional user interface off of a gamepad and turning it into gesture recognition, Microsoft is showing folks the way forward.  After all, isn’t this just pushing us closer to the Holodeck?