sdcc 2013

Microsoft Lays Out Its Xbox One Plans

by Jeff Cork on Jul 20, 2013 at 09:22 AM

Microsoft's Major Nelson moderated an Xbox One Comic Con panel featuring several producers from games including Killer Instinct, Dead Rising 3, Ryse: Son of Rome, and the new Forza game.

  • Ken Lobb talked about working on Killer Instinct again (he worked on the original game), relaying a story about a particularly dominating player at EVO named Todd. This new player dominated the show's winner stays stage event, remaining undefeated from 8:30 through five. The point of the story is that the footage was all being recorded natively on the Xbox One, and Lobb took footage of his eventual defeat (at the hands of a developer) and edited it together in a clip that was shown at the panel. Lobb also highlighted how Kinect is able to determine who is holding a controller and remap the control depending on their preferences. It's as easy as passing the controls to another signed-in player.
  • Dan Greenawalt from Turn 10 began his section by talking about the passion that players have about cars. Then he launched into Driveatar, which is a learning AI that builds opponents based on what it sees from the community – essentially recreating your playstyle and putting yourself into other peoples' games when you aren't near a console. Greenawalt says it's sophisticated enough to learn how to take turns three abreast and perform sophisticated fake-out maneuvers. He showed off gameplay video of a race in Prague that showed off the impressive graphics engine as well as a few glimpses of the Driveatar AI in action.
  • Josh Bridge executive producer of Dead Rising 3 joked after showing a particularly gruesome trailer that Dead Rising 3 is obviously a family fun game. Then he contrasted the visual differences between Dead Rising 2 and 3. He showed a slide comparing the map sizes of Dead Rising 1, 2, and 3. You can fit the entirety of the first two games in Dead Rising 3's world with room to spare. We also got to see a shot of a zombie being sliced apart by a laser sword, exposing its innards, while new hero Nick was safely armored in a knight's suit. Bridge wrapped up with a bit about Smartglass integration, where players will get calls, texts, and even picture messages from another character. As he puts it, it's like their version of Otis from the first game.
  • Justin Robey, senior producer for Ryse, showed how they're using Smartglass as an optional UI replacement. They can track achievements, monitor progress, and keep UI elements tucked to that second screen so that the game's screen is clutter free. Robey's portion wrapped up with a video highlighting the game's motion capture, which is being recorded at veteran mocap artist Andy Serkis'  The Imaginarium Studios.
  • Nick Burton, technology developer at Rare, showed Kinect Sports Rivals, the studio's Kinect-based sports game. He started by saying that as much fun as their previous Kinect Sports games might have been, they weren't able to provide a satisfactory level of fidelity. With the new game, they wanted to revisit some old sports as well as create some new ones. First up was the game's wave-racing game. He called previous games "energetic," but that these new games actually allow players to master them thanks to additional layers of nuance. Bowling has also been revamped, since Burton says they're able to better calculate when the ball should be released and exactly how much spin will be on the ball. As a testament to Kinect 2.0, he says a member of the team created a demo where users could accurately sign their names in the air with a finger from four meters away. That became Kinect Sports Rivals' target-shooting game. Burton wrapped up by showing the face-scanning tech, which creates a caricature of a player's face, complete with silly exaggerated expressions. Scanning a face takes about 20 seconds.

Moments from the Q&A

  • A young gamer attending Comic Con as part of a Make-A-Wish Foundation wish asked for the Xbox One's release date. Major Nelson told him more answers were coming this summer, before saying he'd hoped that wasn't the kid's only wish.
  • Another player asked whether the Xbox One would be their next console, or if the PS4 would be the one. Someone from the crowd immediately shouted, "Sit down!"
  • Someone expressed disappointment about Lionhead's Project Milo was canceled, saying that they would have liked to interact with a sophisticated AI. Lobb says that he thinks players will be seeing things like Milo in the future, particularly with the voice controls. He gave an example of going into a shop in a game, asking to buy a red potion with a follow-up, "And how's your wife?"
  • In response to a question about the new Kinect's distance restrictions, Burton said that the new Kinect can be played a meter away from the device.