In your digest this week:
From the administrative enclave
Attention Nukapedia Shoppers
A new Lithograph has been added to the Bethesda store for Preorder. This baby will set you back $US40. Unfortunately, I am unaware of the current cap to dollar conversion rate.
Microsoft announced the Xbox One this week to somewhat mixed reviews, and a confused message on some very important details…. their media and message control following the event can only be described as… shambolic.
However, what we do know is that the Xbox One continues Microsoft's "Input One" strategy the Xbox 360 began - Not just gaming, but an entertainment hub that in some markets at least will be able to control your TV
- Microsoft aren't revealing all of the specifics yet, but here's what we know
- 8GB of RAM
- Blu-Ray drive
- USB 3.0
- 500GB of storage
- AMD 64 architecture, 8 Cores
- GPU can perform 768 operations per cycle
- Rumbling Triggers on the gamepad
- Kinnect sensors can detect pulse, individual faces and skeletal movements
- Three (count em, Three) Operating systems - a stripped down version of Windows 8 to run applications, an OS for games, and an OS to manage the other two OSes.
The first of those confused messages I talked about earlier is the requirement for the console to be always online. Microsoft's Phil Harrison told Stephen Totilo at Kotaku the following during an interview.
- Harrison "There are many devices in your life that require the Internet to function... Xbox One is no different in that it requires, at some point in the beginning and at various times through its on state, to connect to our cloud and to our Internet. That is to deliver Xbox Live functionality, that is to deliver download content to you, that is to deliver some of the innovations around TV and entertainment that we showed today. But it doesn’t require it to be online all the time.
- For single-player games that don’t require connectivity to Xbox Live, you should be able to play those without interruption should your Internet connection go down. Blu-ray movies and other downloaded entertainment should be accessible when your Internet connection may be interrupted. But the device is fundamentally designed to be expanded and extended by the Internet as many devices are today."
- Kotaku If I’m playing a single player game, do I have to be online at least once per hour or something like that? Or can I go weeks and weeks?
- Harrison I believe it’s 24 hours.
- Kotaku I’d have to connect online once every day.
- Harrison Correct.
Almost immediately after this interview Microsoft told the reporter there was "an issue" with the interview, and they would email a clarification. This was their clarification
- “It does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the Internet. We’re designing Xbox One to be your all-in-one entertainment system that is connected to the cloud and always ready. We are also designing it so you can play games and watch Blu-ray movies and live TV if you lose your connection.”
Which if you ask me is about as clear as your average pile of mud. What "Its not always connected, but needs a connection" means is a complete mystery… but it sounds like they answered it right the first time.
So, in other words, if your internet connection breaks, I hope your neighbour has good wifi, or no games for you tomorrow.
Kotaku also raised the question as to what happens when the authentication servers are eventually decommissioned, with Microsoft brushed off… Many a DRM-enabled media consumer has been caught out by this (including people who purchased from the Zune store, which was run by... Microsoft. The closedown brought new meaning to their "Plays for sure" brand).
Second hand gaming
Next up is Second hand games, yay or nay. The answer appears to be yay, but with a twist. Note the following two messages received from the same executive - Phil Harrison.
- "We will have a system where you can take that digital content and trade a previously played game at a retail store," Harrison said. "We're not announcing the details of that today, but we will have announced in due course."
- "We will have a solution—we’re not talking about it today—for you to be able to trade your previously-played games online"
But wait, there's more. Ars technica has this:
- The latest twist in this whole mysterious business comes from MCV, which says it has information from anonymous "key retail partners" that have been briefed by Microsoft. As the site describes it, Xbox One owners will only be able to trade games in to retailers who are hooked up to Microsoft's Azure-powered pre-owned database, which will then wipe the original installed game from the original owner's hard drive through the cloud. When the game is then resold, both Microsoft and the publisher would also be able to take some percentage of the resale price, removing what many publishers consider a major problem with pre-owned sales.
- UPDATE Microsoft community manager Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb has published an official response to MCV's report calling the information in it "inaccurate and incomplete." Meanwhile, Eurogamer is saying that its own sources confirm the basic gist of MCV's report.
Whilst the ability to trade games online sounds intriguing… it looks like it may be at the cost to loan or trade your games with friends. If you take a game to your friends, you'll need to sign in as you to Xbox live to play it. Your friend may be required to purchase a temporary pass to use it on their profile.
Kazuki Yamamoto posted this lovely image to Reddit, where it was eventually spotted to the Bethesda Blog… Coffee anyone?
Just a quick plug for friend-of-Nukapedia Erik Todd Dellum's blog. He presents a great selection of music and his own taken on world events.
Relic of the war that wasn't - the Dead Hand strikes
Imagine, you're a superpower who's worried about being nuked to kingdom come by another superpower… How do you ensure that you can strike back if the worst happens?
In the early 1990's, the Russians revealed they had an answer- Система «Периметр» (System "Perimiter"), or by its more imaginative name "Dead Hand".
The system itself can be described as the complete opposite of a failsafe system. Sisemic and other sensors (including of course radiation), distributed around the soviet union would "listen" for the signs of a nuclear strike… and if detected it would launch all available missiles.
In order to prevent accidental launch, the system was usually left deactivated, turned on only during a crisis. Deep in a bunker under Moscow (as well as a few backup locations away from the capital) lay the core of the system. A coded signal would activate the system which would then wait until it had detected a nuclear burst. Once detected low frequency radio signals would be broadcast to all nuclear capable units, including orders for bombers and submarines to launch, and could automatically trigger the launch sequence for ICBMs and mobile launchers.
Although we'll call it a relic relic, as recently as 2011 it was confirmed that the system still exists, and is fully operational. One real life doomsday machine.