|An enigma awaits GDC attendees who waltz into the Moscone Center's North Hall, the current home of Microsoft's XNA display. Placed amongst the various screens and demo stations running independent, XNA-powered Xbox 360 games is a sheet bathed in purple lights and mystery. "Coming Soon! Wednesday February 20 11:30AM" declares a nearby sign.
If the sign is to be believed (it seemed friendly enough), something is set to be unveiled at the conclusion of John Schappert's keynote, "A Future Wide Open: Unleashing the Creative Community." If that's what lies beneath the sheet, it's fair to say that a future wide open is a lot smaller than we imagined it to be. Maybe you have a better idea*?
Frankly I'm sitting in hot anticipation of some big news for this, ever since the XNA platform was initially announced I had been excited that we may get a new revolution in the game industry (which also the emergence of the new "Casual Game" market with the Wii and the DS at the forefront has contributed to my predictions). As of current, though, the XNA platform's 360 component is only available for those who pay for the XNA subscription ($99/year, PC games made with XNA are free), but rumor's have been going rapidly that this keynote will be introducing the "YouTube of Games" that Microsoft has spoken of wanting to create in the past.
Also of possibly related news is a new job posting for the LIVE division:
|Despite a few updates to the basic interface, Microsoft's Xbox Live has remained a remarkably consistent gold standard for online console gaming since it relaunched with the Xbox 360. Could the service be due for a major overhaul for the next console generation? It sure could, if a Microsoft job posting is to be believed.
The posting, which went up in January, looks for a project manager who wants "to be involved in the next release of Xbox" and "[build] the games, the console interface and logic, and the server support for a totally new LIVE experience." The manager will also act as a games producer to "help implement our first generation games that will run in this new environment." The posting doesn't reveal much about the functionality of the new Live, but apparently it will include a "dynamic server support to create a compelling, fresh scenario each time," whatever that means. What features would you want to see in the next generation of Microsoft's online service?
T minus 2 days!