Reports of a totalitarian Xbox locked down by required internet connection and limited-to-no backwards compatibility have been greatly exaggerated, if an anonymous source who claims to be close to Durango's development is correct. The mini-manifest shoots down frenzied speculation of an always-on future:
"You are not required to be connected to the internet in order to play Durango games and [Microsoft] were NEVER considering doing such a thing," it states.
The report goes on to back up recent reports of the system's specs, but adds one important detail: Durango will include an Xbox 360 system-on-a-chip, which makes for both 100 percent backwards compatibility with 360 games and some additional processing power for other tasks.
While Sony and Nintendo have made significant strides to court indie developers, the report claims that the next Xbox will best PlayStation 4 and Wii U's developer accessibility through one simple stroke: Durango will run Windows 8.
Not the PC version, more like the desktop-free Windows RT which some Microsoft Surface tablets use. This means developers could push any controller-enabled games onto the marketplace with a single inexpensive license, turning the publishing proposition into one more like the iOS App Store than the difficult and costly approval process of yore.
Durango's controller will sport an improved directional pad, and is otherwise similar to the 360's design, the report states. It also claims Microsoft will roll out its own $100 Apple TV set-top-box competitor complete with 360 support. Space and cost concerns mean it will not include a disc drive, so its game lineup will be limited to Games on Demand and Xbox Live Arcade.
This report is certainly more uplifting than those which were floating around before, but wherever your console proclivities lie, please remember that these are rumors from an anonymous (albeit seemingly well-informed) source.
We reached out to Microsoft for comment, but it has not gotten back to us at this time. Hopefully we'll know more in May.
So yes, I originally made a post on pastebin that I then posted on IGN that has now mysteriously vanished from the internet. I'm guessing good 'ol Don wasn't too happy.
In that pastebin post I said I wouldn't be saying anything else, but that was before a few things changed. So yeah.... #dealwithit.
That IGN post (that referenced the pastebin post) was also posted on NeoGAF. Though it didn't get much attention.
In that pastebin post I specifically mentioned that I was a GAF member, but that I would not be outing myself on GAF for fear of losing my job. And I still will not be doing that. I'm not an idiot.
However since the reveal is pretty close now, I thought I'd just come out and tell you everything I know. No more cryptic bull****, just facts.
First of all, for any of the GAF members reading this (or anyone else for that matter) that actually believed the online-required rumor, well.... you're either stupid, very gullible, or a fanboy. Reading the posts some of you made over the past few weeks leads me to believe that mostly fanboyism was involved. So, I'll make this very clear:
You are not required to be connected to the internet in order to play Durango games and MS were NEVER considering doing such a thing. Now please, just read that last sentence over and over again until it sinks in. Done? Good.
Now that I've got that out of the way I can talk about the real details.
First, I'll admit some things that I originally hinted at in the first pastebin are now not going to happen. Mainly the April 18th date (obviously) and the HMD glasses. The date, as you may know by now was pushed back to May, and the glasses, well, although they’re kind of working are going to spend a bit longer in the oven.
Ok, moving on. Have you read the VGLeaks article about the Durango specs? Yes? Good because everything you read in that article was 100% correct. Except, for one tiny little detail that MS kept guarded from most devs until very recently. That detail being that every Durango ships with a Xbox 360 SOC.
There was a reason why MS hired so many former IBM and AMD employees. I'll admit I'm not an electrical engineer (I'm in software) so I won't pretend to know the ins and outs of how the 360 SOC integrates into the Durango motherboard. All I know, and all I need to know about this new change is that I (or a game dev) can use the 360 SOC in parallel with the original Durango hardware.
What does this mean in basic terms? Well, apart from Durango having 100% BC with the 360, it also increases Durango's processing power a fair amount.
Ok, so what else?
Kinect 2.0: - Again the specs from VGLeaks are correct, there's been no change and there won't be. However, the fact is, is that software can do ANYTHING, and with the quite substantial increase in the hardware over Kinect 1.0, any humanly noticeable lag should be gone
Controller: - The controller is pretty much the same. The D-Pad has been improved, but the change will only be noticeable when actually using it, i.e. it looks exactly the same, I haven't actually touched it, this is just what I’ve been told. AA batteries will make a return, but the new wireless tech MS has created for the controller, improves battery life by 16%. Again, this is just what the doc says.
Xbox Mini/Xbox TV: Yes, this is happening, although as far as I know, it’s a whole different team over at MS that are handling this. As has been reported its main purpose is to compete with Apple TV, so expect this thing to be small and around $100.
It contains the 360 SOC (similar to the one in the Durango), however no disc drive is included (to decrease size). But of course you can still play any XBLA/Games on Demand game. That’s all I really know about the xTV so I’ll leave it at that. Thurrott seems to know more than anyone else about this, so go ask him.
OS/Services: I wish I knew more about this, but I honestly don’t. I have no clue what sort of new ideas MS are going to bring to the table this gen, but I’m certainly expecting them to amaze.
The only thing that I do know for definite is that Durango will be running Windows 8. It will essentially be the full version of the OS, minus the desktop side of things. This means it’ll be running the new WinRT framework, which as a side effect also means that contrary to popular belief MS will be the most indie friendly of all the big 3 next gen.
This is because any app/game that is created for the Windows app store will (after adding controller support of course) be playable on Durango.
In other words, any random person worldwide can pay Microsoft a $60 license fee (for the Windows Store) and submit their app/game to the store where millions of people can then download/buy it. No expensive development kits needed.
Expect to hear much more on WinRT - Durango at Build2013.
Ok, so that’s pretty much it. I wish I had more info on specific games and services that MS have lined up, but it seems that even I’ll have to wait until May to find out.
I’ll look forward to this post appearing on GAF, where rest assured I’ll be lurking. Hell, who knows I may even make a few posts.
I wonder how many people will refuse to believe this? Hmmmm….
WinRT emphasis mine.