Blog 1: 360 Dashboard Redesign & Microsoft's New Vision.

Hello There My Fellow GiantBombers!

This being my first blog for this cool, hip and happening new site I wanted to talk about a matter that recently got my blood boiling. For those of us who love our Video Games, you will have no doubt tuned into the the widespread media coverage of Gamings key Event, E3. Though its fair to say that for the most part E3 was pretty average this year, there were a number of key talking points from Final Fantasy 12 coming to the 360 to Nintendo's below average press conference. But for the moment I want to concentrate on one specific announcement made by Microsoft in their press conference. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, the much debated New 360 Dashboard Redesign. Now I'll happily admit that the current 'Blade' system as had its day, its become slow with the influx of content found on the Marketplace and its style had become a little average for most 360 users. Yet despite these problems, the current 360 Blade Dashboard is still generally loved by a good amount of users, but theres no denying the system needed a redesign. Especially when you compare the system to Sony's XMB (Xross Media Bar). But did we truly expect such a change when we feasted our eyes on Microsoft new vision for its Hardcore orientated console, it depends on the user I guess. Its clear the general feeling of fans for Microsoft's new vision is mixed, but I guess its a 60/40 split. From doing my research (a fancy word for just looking around on the web and reading gamers views on the matter) I'd say 40% of 360 users do like the new Media Centre-like redesign, while around 60% of 360 users simply do not. Of course, these are my views from traveling around the World Wide Web and are not at all scientifically proven. I'll admit I place myself in that 60% of users who simply do not like the new redesign, I usually like to give these types of things a chance and now its been over a week since it was first announced, and I've read, watched and listened to articles concerning the new design I still stick to my first impession. The old 'Never Judge A Book By It's Cover' line doesn't fit with the new Dashboard design, simply because my view of it hasn't changed a great deal since first being seen at the Microsoft Press Conference. It's not a case of me not liking the general style, or simply hateing the concept of LIVE Avatars. It's more to do with my overall feeling of what kind of audience plays the XBOX 360 Console, its fair to say that Microsoft have since the original XBOX been aiming for a more Hardcore Audience of Gamers. The audience that would rather cut up a creature of Hell with a chainsaw then play motion controlled tennis or play a tough action packed online shooter with mates then play short mini-games with the family and Grandparents. You get my point, but maybe I was wrong in thinking this way. Microsoft seem to think I was wrong, from the feeling I got from the Press Conference. Are Microsoft aiming for the Nintendo dominated audiences? Are they after the casual family friendly gamer who just loves playing the endless mini-games the Nintendo Wii system seems to have nowadays. I suspect they are!

New Dashboard Design
I wish to note that I mean no hate towards the Nintendo Wii, I'm just making my point. When you compare the two consoles side by side and take a good look at what they offer, you'll find that both consoles suit two very different tastes. From the Wii's family friendly games catalog (Wii Play, Wii Fit, Mario Kart Wii) and physical motion controls, to the 360's often heavy hardcore orientated game catalog (Gears of War, Halo 3, Bioshock, GTA4) and superb Online Multiplayer Gaming features and you can clearly see that both please two very different tastes. Of course the argument can be made that many gamers prefer a bit of both occasionally, I for one own the Nintendo Wii system and although I have only found a few games on the system truly fun and interesting to experience, I still found it an enjoyable console to play despite my preference to the 360 and PS3 consoles. So cleary that arguement can be bought forward, but you can't argue with the fact that the new LIVE Avatars haven't been placed in to please the Hardcore Audiences because I have never recalled 360 Users asking for a Mii based Avatar system for their 360 consoles. This is where my blood starts boiling, take a look at some pictures of the new system and if your like me. You'll no doubt feel that some of the 360's soul as gone missing, the soul that the Blade System created in my opinion. Though even despite the clumsy slow feel to the Blade system these past few months it still does its job fantastically well, with a pretty simple to use Marketplace and blades that are easy to navigate and use for those new to the system. As I said eariler, its totally understandable for Microsoft to feel a redesign was needed and my final judgement on the new Dashboard will be made when it launches this fall. But I still feel a little sick when I think that I'll have to create my own little Mii for the 360 that'll sit happily, smiling and generally looking somewhat childish on my Dashboard for all to see, not to mention the fact that the LIVE Avatars even resemble their Nintendo brotherin. That is exactly what I speak of when talking about Microsoft's new vision for its system, the picture to the right is a fine example. Maybe its just the Transformer picture I don't know, but it looks wrong to me. Looks bland and the Gears of War 2 theme looks pretty poor. Though its nice to see that Microsoft aren't getting totally rid of Gamerpics (which as always been perfectly fine for me). But I also asked the question, will it be any better then the Blade system we already have?



I'm not convinced it will, of course we know it'll run better then the current system and without seeing the whole New Dashboard Package as a whole its hard to say for sure. But there still keeping many of the same Dashboard pages the same as they currently are with the Blade system, just with a different look and I'm still unsure why we need a special box (or whatever there being called) to tell us what game disc is currently in our system. Of course, its also important to remember that changes will probably be made as we get nearer to the Fall Updates release and I do hope that some of the bland, dull looking graphics get a bit of colour. I have always been a fan of the colourful Blade system on offer because it looks so darn good on an large HDTV. I also want to mention the new partnership Microsoft also talked about in their press conference, the new Partnership with Netflix which will mean 'US' users will be able to download movies as usual but also do a number of other interesting features such as watch a movie with a friend together at the sametime. I'm sure you were as confussed as I was when you first heard that, why do we need that? if I want to watch a film with a mate I can just ask him over and we watch the movie (probably a Die Hard film) together. That made little sense to me, much like quite a bit of  what Microsoft said all through the press conference. Anyway, this partnership with Netflix recieved very few cheers and although I don't know a great deal about Netflix it means even less to me because European simply won't get this at all (what a great surprise there) and I have read that despite the thousands of films on offer with Netfilix, only a certain amount of them are actual Film hits. Though I suspect I'll never be happy with the LIVE Avatars, I do believe I'll come around to likeing the new Dashboard redesign and even though I find it sad that Microsoft are clearly moving slowly away from continually pleasing its hardcore audiences and aiming for a middle ground between the Hardcore and the family friendly gamer. I also suspect that some features of the new design will change. Lets be honest, everyone as their own views on Microsoft's New Dashboard and the general feeling of their Press Conferene. This was just mine, and this being my first ever blog on this fantastic new GiantBomb website. I felt it was only right to share out my views. For the most part you probably don't agree with most of it, but it wouldn't be much a debate if you did would it? I'll have an updated view on this once we get nearer to release with the Fall Update and keep checking for future blogs I do.

Thanks to GiantBomb and Whiskey Media for Creating a Fantastic New Gaming Home for us Gamers!
SaitenMar - True English Gent!
SaitenMar!
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3 Comments
Posted by SaitenMar

Hello There My Fellow GiantBombers!

This being my first blog for this cool, hip and happening new site I wanted to talk about a matter that recently got my blood boiling. For those of us who love our Video Games, you will have no doubt tuned into the the widespread media coverage of Gamings key Event, E3. Though its fair to say that for the most part E3 was pretty average this year, there were a number of key talking points from Final Fantasy 12 coming to the 360 to Nintendo's below average press conference. But for the moment I want to concentrate on one specific announcement made by Microsoft in their press conference. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, the much debated New 360 Dashboard Redesign. Now I'll happily admit that the current 'Blade' system as had its day, its become slow with the influx of content found on the Marketplace and its style had become a little average for most 360 users. Yet despite these problems, the current 360 Blade Dashboard is still generally loved by a good amount of users, but theres no denying the system needed a redesign. Especially when you compare the system to Sony's XMB (Xross Media Bar). But did we truly expect such a change when we feasted our eyes on Microsoft new vision for its Hardcore orientated console, it depends on the user I guess. Its clear the general feeling of fans for Microsoft's new vision is mixed, but I guess its a 60/40 split. From doing my research (a fancy word for just looking around on the web and reading gamers views on the matter) I'd say 40% of 360 users do like the new Media Centre-like redesign, while around 60% of 360 users simply do not. Of course, these are my views from traveling around the World Wide Web and are not at all scientifically proven. I'll admit I place myself in that 60% of users who simply do not like the new redesign, I usually like to give these types of things a chance and now its been over a week since it was first announced, and I've read, watched and listened to articles concerning the new design I still stick to my first impession. The old 'Never Judge A Book By It's Cover' line doesn't fit with the new Dashboard design, simply because my view of it hasn't changed a great deal since first being seen at the Microsoft Press Conference. It's not a case of me not liking the general style, or simply hateing the concept of LIVE Avatars. It's more to do with my overall feeling of what kind of audience plays the XBOX 360 Console, its fair to say that Microsoft have since the original XBOX been aiming for a more Hardcore Audience of Gamers. The audience that would rather cut up a creature of Hell with a chainsaw then play motion controlled tennis or play a tough action packed online shooter with mates then play short mini-games with the family and Grandparents. You get my point, but maybe I was wrong in thinking this way. Microsoft seem to think I was wrong, from the feeling I got from the Press Conference. Are Microsoft aiming for the Nintendo dominated audiences? Are they after the casual family friendly gamer who just loves playing the endless mini-games the Nintendo Wii system seems to have nowadays. I suspect they are!

New Dashboard Design
I wish to note that I mean no hate towards the Nintendo Wii, I'm just making my point. When you compare the two consoles side by side and take a good look at what they offer, you'll find that both consoles suit two very different tastes. From the Wii's family friendly games catalog (Wii Play, Wii Fit, Mario Kart Wii) and physical motion controls, to the 360's often heavy hardcore orientated game catalog (Gears of War, Halo 3, Bioshock, GTA4) and superb Online Multiplayer Gaming features and you can clearly see that both please two very different tastes. Of course the argument can be made that many gamers prefer a bit of both occasionally, I for one own the Nintendo Wii system and although I have only found a few games on the system truly fun and interesting to experience, I still found it an enjoyable console to play despite my preference to the 360 and PS3 consoles. So cleary that arguement can be bought forward, but you can't argue with the fact that the new LIVE Avatars haven't been placed in to please the Hardcore Audiences because I have never recalled 360 Users asking for a Mii based Avatar system for their 360 consoles. This is where my blood starts boiling, take a look at some pictures of the new system and if your like me. You'll no doubt feel that some of the 360's soul as gone missing, the soul that the Blade System created in my opinion. Though even despite the clumsy slow feel to the Blade system these past few months it still does its job fantastically well, with a pretty simple to use Marketplace and blades that are easy to navigate and use for those new to the system. As I said eariler, its totally understandable for Microsoft to feel a redesign was needed and my final judgement on the new Dashboard will be made when it launches this fall. But I still feel a little sick when I think that I'll have to create my own little Mii for the 360 that'll sit happily, smiling and generally looking somewhat childish on my Dashboard for all to see, not to mention the fact that the LIVE Avatars even resemble their Nintendo brotherin. That is exactly what I speak of when talking about Microsoft's new vision for its system, the picture to the right is a fine example. Maybe its just the Transformer picture I don't know, but it looks wrong to me. Looks bland and the Gears of War 2 theme looks pretty poor. Though its nice to see that Microsoft aren't getting totally rid of Gamerpics (which as always been perfectly fine for me). But I also asked the question, will it be any better then the Blade system we already have?



I'm not convinced it will, of course we know it'll run better then the current system and without seeing the whole New Dashboard Package as a whole its hard to say for sure. But there still keeping many of the same Dashboard pages the same as they currently are with the Blade system, just with a different look and I'm still unsure why we need a special box (or whatever there being called) to tell us what game disc is currently in our system. Of course, its also important to remember that changes will probably be made as we get nearer to the Fall Updates release and I do hope that some of the bland, dull looking graphics get a bit of colour. I have always been a fan of the colourful Blade system on offer because it looks so darn good on an large HDTV. I also want to mention the new partnership Microsoft also talked about in their press conference, the new Partnership with Netflix which will mean 'US' users will be able to download movies as usual but also do a number of other interesting features such as watch a movie with a friend together at the sametime. I'm sure you were as confussed as I was when you first heard that, why do we need that? if I want to watch a film with a mate I can just ask him over and we watch the movie (probably a Die Hard film) together. That made little sense to me, much like quite a bit of  what Microsoft said all through the press conference. Anyway, this partnership with Netflix recieved very few cheers and although I don't know a great deal about Netflix it means even less to me because European simply won't get this at all (what a great surprise there) and I have read that despite the thousands of films on offer with Netfilix, only a certain amount of them are actual Film hits. Though I suspect I'll never be happy with the LIVE Avatars, I do believe I'll come around to likeing the new Dashboard redesign and even though I find it sad that Microsoft are clearly moving slowly away from continually pleasing its hardcore audiences and aiming for a middle ground between the Hardcore and the family friendly gamer. I also suspect that some features of the new design will change. Lets be honest, everyone as their own views on Microsoft's New Dashboard and the general feeling of their Press Conferene. This was just mine, and this being my first ever blog on this fantastic new GiantBomb website. I felt it was only right to share out my views. For the most part you probably don't agree with most of it, but it wouldn't be much a debate if you did would it? I'll have an updated view on this once we get nearer to release with the Fall Update and keep checking for future blogs I do.

Thanks to GiantBomb and Whiskey Media for Creating a Fantastic New Gaming Home for us Gamers!
SaitenMar - True English Gent!
SaitenMar!
Posted by xthemusic

At first i thought it was crap but i am warming to it.

as if we have a choice though...

Posted by SaitenMar

If they give us a option to switch back to the classic Blade system I would be pleased and even willing to take the whole 'Avartars' feature. But knowing Microsoft that'll probably never happen!

But I'm willing to wait and give it ago. Better to have experienced it before critising it in full! :)