Will you say Mii too?

Not more than three hours ago, Microsoft’s E3 2008 press conference ended to bated-breath from the crowds of press and journalists stuffed into one Californian exhibition hall. Substantial announcements were made and new footage was shown; Gears of War 2 gameplay, a Resident Evil 5 worldwide simultaneous release date, an expansion of Live’s on-demand video service, and of course, that epic Final Fantasy XIII announcement.

But the only element of this show that will likely affect all 360 gamers – regardless of genre-preferences, or frequency of play time – was the revelation of a entirely new dashboard system, centralised around a Mii-like “Avatar” which will replace the gamertag.

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Of course, for many of us, this was less of a revelation and more of a confirmation; a surprisingly detailed report of everything demonstrated in the interface today was leaked by a survey company earlier in the month, leaving some to judge the implications of such a bold change for a while.

Well, it’s definitely arriving in October in a big way, with all signs pointing to it superseding the current “Blade” design completely, which by that point 360-loyalists will have been using for almost three years. The primary question in my mind is not whether the new UI will be any good, because it almost certainly has to be, but rather, whether it will be optional.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for change. The new interface looks like it will expand the casual user-base with its minimalistic but fun aesthetics, and the blatant design cues taken from Windows Media Center Edition look to offer HTPC functionality in line with Microsoft’s recent moves, such as the Netflix partnership for TV content, which was also announced today.

I’m just not 100% sure that the new UI is needed for Microsoft’s current core demograph. For the most part, I feel that the blade interface accomplishes everything a core gamer needs to do. Okay, sure, XBLA’s release list is getting beyond cumbersome to navigate, and when I just want to casually purchase an older release such as Pacman Championship Edition, I may as well consult a forum post as to where to find it. But these look to be volume issues that won’t be mitigated by the new interface either, from what little we’ve seen of it.

And I guess that’s my problem here: for such a radical change to something we’ve been using for so long, we have little idea to how what we’ve already been doing will operate in this new design; Microsoft dedicated most of the time it had to show (the admittedly impressive) new features, as would be expected.

The Final Fantasy announcement was impressive, but my bated-breath will wait for clarification on other issues first.







14 responses to “Will you say Mii too?”

  1. Modfather avatar

    If Mii is anything like HOME it will be good. I am currently testing HOME for the PS3 and its great run running around as a character that you have created and interacting with others online. Just wish SONY would release it to the public to play with 馃檪

    It would be good to have to option of two different way in browsing you XBL. I think keeping the blade system would be a good option if you do not want that simple text bases browsing for a quicker option?

  2. Scott avatar

    I haven’t discussed the Mii-like Avatars much here, or how significant the Home-inspired features are with how long it’s taking Sony to get their own service out there, but I thought they could be left for further discussion. 馃槢

    Hi all, BTW! This is my first blog post, so please be nice. 馃檪

  3. Kat avatar

    When I saw the Mii-avatar thing, it took me a second to figure out why there was a 360 logo in the same image. And just when I was talking about all of this over-saturation–soon enough we won’t even have three separate systems anymore. They’ll be exactly the same thing produced by three different companies at different costs, and SOMEHOW people will still find a way to argue over them. /blatant cynicism

    Anyway, certainly sounds interesting. I’m waiting until E3 blows over to start looking into the announcements (mostly because I know you’ll tell me anyway, and also because half the announcements I don’t particularly care about myself, so it’s just easier to find them later on the sites pertaining to what DOES affect me personally), but this certainly sounds like an interesting move. I guess I’m lucky I’m still looking for that sweet deal before I pick up a 360, so I haven’t had time to get used to one UI over another yet.

    (psst. psst. Hi Scott. c: )

  4. Tony avatar

    I don’t know on this one. I want to see the new interface and make up my mind.

    When I first saw the blades system I thought it was adequate, but as time passes it just appears to be more and more creaky. After one of the Dashboard updates made it much faster, I was delighted, but now it still seems too slow and clunky for my liking.

    As for Mii like avatars, I don’t think the 360 is really the place for it.

  5. Laura avatar

    Hiya Scott, welcome to Ready Up!

    I don’t mind a bit of change but I really don’t want a Mii-Like avatar, they’re far too cutsey and a bit too cheesy for me.

    I do like my dashboard the way it is at the moment but I may prefer the new style you never know.
    If it’s not optional I will not allow myself to like it, at least for a while. 馃檪

    All we can do is wait and see.

  6. Zanveth avatar

    “I don鈥檛 mind a bit of change but I really don鈥檛 want a Mii-Like avatar, they鈥檙e far too cutsey and a bit too cheesy for me.”

    I’m of the same thought as Laura on this one, although I could just be getting that “change is evil” feeling I sometimes get.

    Of course, one thing I’d like to know…what about those that spent MS Points on Gamer Pictures and Theme’s? Will they carry across into this new dashboard somehow? If not, I can imagine a lot of people will be feeling quite frustrated.

    I don’t like the Wii because its too Wii-ish, please don’t turn my 360 into it as well. Come on MS, instead of cute little avatars, give us Gears style renders…now that, would be nice.

    No mention of making Live free…which is what I was really hoping for.

  7. Dave avatar

    Hi Scott, welcome to Ready Up buddy! 馃榾

    Great post! E3 is always an exciting time and I have to say, this dashboard announcement has me a bit confused. On one hand, it鈥檚 blatantly a doppelganger of the Mii system (I can hear the wheels of the bandwagon straining under the pressure) and I don鈥檛 think it鈥檚 a good fit for the console鈥檚 core demographic.

    However, the Itunes style interface of flipping through games looks neat and the Neflix pics show that the range of films can only get better. But it鈥檚 honestly as if they have seen what other devs have done and hand picked an element here or a design choice there.

    If it鈥檚 functional and fast then I wont mind though, the look is all cosmetic anyways 馃檪

  8. Simes avatar

    I think the idea is that Microsoft want to appeal to groups *outside* of their core demographic. Appearing a bit less “hardcore” is one way to try and do that.

    I think the Party system they’ve announced is ace, though. Form your group of mates before you start a game and take it from one game to another? Yes please.

  9. Jamesbuc avatar

    Haha. These Xbox Mii-like things look quite brilliant 馃檪 I couldnt care less if its ripping off other consoles or not…

  10.  avatar

    I still say they look more like something from Sims 2 than Miis. That’s what I thought when I first saw them. The Mii comparison came later.

  11. Michael avatar

    I don’t want all this palaver of presumably having to create an avatar then customising it! If anything, it’s more work than simply entering a tag and away you go. Isn’t it? Hardly appealing to a casual gamer (if we’re talking demographics) with limited time and/or patience, no?

    That party thing is long overdue though.

  12. Tony avatar

    Just saw this at Major Nelson:


    “路 Dashboard built into the new Xbox Guide. For everyone who loves the blades interface, it鈥檚 not going away; they are now built directly in to the new Xbox guide. Every feature and option is available right from the guide. You can even access your full games library at all times. No matter where you are (in dash or in game), immediately call up your games played list and directly launch a game.”

    So no losing the blades! Also:

    “路 Play from hard drive. Copy your games from the game disc and play directly from the hard drive. Not only will the drive not spin, but load times are quicker, as well. Of course, you will still need the disc in the tray to prove you own the game.”

    Utterly useless for me with a 20gb drive, but useful for some I suppose.

  13. Martin avatar

    Hi Scott, remember me from Video Games Live? I was on the sign up table, thought you had forgotten us, welcome. Good post and points and like a few others I’m not greatly excited at the prospect of the avatars, but…….allow us to make evil, superhero, mad ones and I might be tempted. The whole Mii type kiddie slant isn’t that appealing to me. But like the sap I am, I will make Haggis the avatar!

  14. Scott Cameron avatar
    Scott Cameron

    I want to thank Kat (my best friend, hehe), Laura, Dave, and everyone else for the comments and welcome to the site!

    @ Modfather: Are the trophy rooms and social games we’ve seen footage of in the beta you’re participating in? How are they?

    @ Simes: Ah yeah, I was trying to make that point in my previous paragraph. 馃槈

    @ Tony: From what I can tell of footage I’ve seen, the Blades aren’t entirely back, but only appear when you hit the guide button, in a much smaller, stripped-down form. Which is interesting.

    I have a pre-HDMI premium 360 and a 120GB hard drive (long story), so installing games to the hard drive sounds immensely useful.

    @ Martin: Of course I remember you! 馃榾 The only reason it’s taken me so long to post something is that I’ve been busy on an industrial placement for University. The idea of evil Miis made me laugh, though… I had so much fun with Chao in Sonic Adventure.

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