Microsoft finally release its Go game for Xbox 360.

Microsoft Research has been working on a computer-go AI engine for several years [1]. But we never knew how strong it was. Recently, Microsoft Research hired the two people that were behind iSheep. The game that won one of the recent XNA contest. These guys took care of building a decent looking XBLA game around the AI engine Microsoft Reseach had developped. if you win all the way through the story mode, the dialogs will sound buggy. The story is clearly written for someone who never played Go. But It offers a very good tutorial for new people coming into Go. Blended through a little story. Several culture mix and confusions between China and Japan is annoying for those who the difference. Several things in the background does not fit together at all. but most people won't see anything wrong. Other than that. its nice to see a good looking Go game for Xbox. The first one I see that brings nice 3D visuals for this awesome game we are playing for over 2500 years. that's nice. There are several user interaction issues I found annoying. such as why do I need to "Quit" my game, after a win, the term is plain wrong. Another annoying thing is some messages that appears too fast to be read and they seemed more interesting than the one you have to click 'A' your way through. I don't like Chinese scoring, a choice should have been made. I don't think it make such a difference on a regular 19x19 board. but on a small 9x9 board with 5.5 komi. it gets quite hard to win as black. That said, the AI is not that strong although its play does feel quite natural. But I have yet to try it on a large board. Setting up a game through Xbox live is a little bit annoying. You don't know how many people are currently online. So, it feels like you are waiting for nothing... In-game voice chat and or Kinect support would have been nice. Overall, I recommend the purchase. 400 Microsoft points is not exaggerated. and the 200 achievements gamer score points are easy to get. * The Path of Go [xbox.com] * The Path of Go [IGN] * The Path of Go [Gamespot] * The Path of Go [Microsoft Research]

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Posted in , , | Posted on 19 Dec 2010 20:19by somekool |

Kinect: first impressions.

I knew all along I would be getting this new technology and there was no point in waiting for others to review it. So I did not wait any longer than its release date. I bought my Wii right when it came out as well and even though there isn't as many interesting game that came out for the Wii as I first thought. I'm still curious about this sweating gaming trend. Unlike Sony that is coming out with some High Def version of the Wii with their Playstation Move, I find that Microsoft is actually bringing something entirely new to the market. So the choice was a no brainer. Everybody knows it by now you need a Kinect compatible living room to be able to use it. We can’t really complain about that, this technology is about getting your ass off the couch and move. This won’t be happening on a single foot square. In my case it is slightly more complicated, I have a projector instead of a TV. This brings several issues. I will first cover the three most obvious technical problems I have regarding this and then add some more comments about Kinect itself. The lighting. My room is quite dark; the only light is the projector. So when my Xbox ask me to turn on the light for face recognition, I can’t. Therefore I could not try this feature so far. Light and projector simply does not quite go well together. I guess I will try to add some lights until I can use the face recognition technology and see how the responsiveness and image quality improve or worsen. Cable too short. You guessed it, same issue with the Wii. But the Wii does not carry any information from the “sensor bar”. So several wireless options were possible. With Kinect, It needs to be plugged in. In theory the maximum for a USB2.0 device is 15 feet. But I found out you could use at least 25 feet long USB cable without much of a problem. In my case, I had to add a 10 feet cable to the existing one. I did not measure the existing one, so I am not so sure how much it adds up. But I’d say very close to 25 feet. I feared I would lose responsiveness but did not feel any problem when using Kinect. Always being in front of the projector. Argh, this one is annoying. My projector is located behind me in a high shelf but it ain’t high enough. Moving my projector to the roof requires an investment I had not planned. On the Wii, it was not too much of a problem. Your body would not move so much, only your arm and even for DDR, if sometimes your head or shoulder would hide the screen for a quick second, it never been a real problem for me. When I tried Kinect Adventures, I keep jumping in front of the projector blindly missing all the targets. So if I want to keep playing on the projector, I definitely need to make some adjustments. Apart from that, the initial Kinect was flawless and everything seems to work perfectly. But I got several other disappointments. I was expecting to be able to watch movies, pause, rewind and resume them with voice command. But Netflix is not supported. Only Zune. That sucks as I don’t use Zune and don’t want to either. Actually I find voice commands quite useless. From the dashboard you can’t select anything but Kinect. Once in the Kinect menu, you have to pronounce “Xbox” again for it to receive a new voice command and then your choice is limited again. After you made your choice, the voice capability ain’t available anymore. I have a similar complains with gesture control. You hop into a menu option and it forgot you were using your hand; you have to wave again to take control. I feel like I have to wave my hand before every single click. This is very bad usability. Anyway, I did not give this more than one hour so far. So I will keep you posted for updates.

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Posted in , | Posted on 05 Nov 2010 00:01by somekool |

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