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XNA In-Depth: Microsoft's Dave Mitchell Answers Our Questions
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XNA In-Depth: Microsoft's Dave Mitchell Answers Our Questions

December 15, 2006 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

GS: So as part of that, are you going to have to enforce IP related issues, such as Tetris clones and whatnot? Is there going to be some sort of monitoring of that?

DM: That's one of the things that we're focusing a lot of attention on. Aside from IP, there are a whole bunch of other issues associated with type of content. Is it appropriate? Is it not? Is it going to be rated? Is it not? These sorts of things. The one thing that I can tell you is that we are going to have to have some resources dedicated to...I don't want to say moderating the content because we do not want to get into the content moderating business, but if you look at the Xbox 360, and the quality of content that gets onto the console and the quality control process that goes into it, we're going to be looking a lot to the model where it works, where it doesn't, and how much of that do we really want to bring down into a community and a level of sharing onto the 360. What is relevant that needs to be in at that point? It's probably safe to say that there will be some kind of policing activity, but what exactly that is, we're not sure yet.

GS: And obviously with this sort of thing there will be a larger volume of content coming up I would assume, and so I'm wondering what you think the effect will be on Xbox Live Arcade content, especially given that Microsoft seems to have locked into this “one game every Wednesday” kind of thing, which seems a bit slow, especially compared to what users will probably be generating.

DM: You are absolutely right in that there is going to be a lot more content generated by the community, because at the end of the day we're really empowering a huge amount of individuals out there as creators of content to contribute it into this community network. A couple of the things that we're doing to make sure this all works well with our existing established retail business, one is that whatever we do from a community sharing perspective plays well and plays into the strategy and vision for Xbox Live Arcade.

Now, take a scenario where an end user creates a game, and it happens to be a runaway success. One of the things that we're looking actively at as a potential scenario is how do we identify games like that, as a good piece of content that we never expected, or as a gameplay type that might never go through a standard publisher licensing agreement model - how do we get that promoted or try to recruit that into an Xbox Live Arcade type of content, and get a publishing agreement on that? How do we make sure that the content that's going through doesn't dilute or muddy the visibility that Xbox Live Arcade games have?

One of the ways in which we can do that is not have those games available in the same way, or the same catalog certainly, so that there isn't a lot of noise compared to the commercial retail titles. We're looking at a lot of different ways of how these things sit side by side, and can highly compliment one another, and add more value and, ultimately, at the end of the day more choice to consumers. Ultimately we are empowering that end consumer with a real wide selection of retail as well as community games, and you can pick and choose what it is you want to go off and get.

GS: If you can say, what are some of the most impressive games you have see so far from the beta, and also where can we see those because I've seen them on some specific blogs from people who have made them, but there's not a real venue to look at those yet?

DM: One of the things is we did, and this was about a month ago, we went and found a bunch of really cool community games, as well as some of the starter kits that we were working on, and we created a montage video. The second is that there are a couple of community sites where you can see some of the works actually for yourself. One is a site called Xbox 360 Homebrew, and the really cool thing about this site is that they are are about to wrap up; this week they are doing their final judging and it's a community voting process for a number of games that the community had submitted. And if you go through and just look at the different project profiles, I think you're going to see about 18 different projects on the site, and some of those are actually pretty interesting.

One guy has a project on there that's a puzzle game but you are the main character in the game and you're a butterfly. You've got another game on there that is a 2D side scroller game, and the main character is a snowboarder and the goal is to go off and do tricks. Another game has you as a program that is navigating a circuit board, so you've got all this electronic wiring and you've got to figure out the ways to go as it uses real PC circuitry as the game playing field. And these people tend to be better in terms of programming than they are in the content creation side, so the games may not look as polished as an Arcade game or retail title, but the amazing thing about it is that these individuals in the community are really pushing the envelope in different ways in completely unproven and uncharted waters, which is exactly what we anticipated would happen if we allowed them to create games.

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