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Camera brings both good and bad
Published on September 25, 2006 By terpfan1980 In XBOX
Vision meets the public

Microsoft finally officially released their Xbox Live Vision accessory (see image below) for the Xbox 360 and Windows XP systems over the last few days. It had been out in limited quantities previously with some Toys R Us locations apparently ignoring the embargo and selling the units before they were supposed to.

Xbox Live Vision Camera

Vision is an innocent looking little accessory, and with the right gamers it is a nice addition to the gaming experience. Unfortunately there are some gamers that are ignorant enough, or stupid enough, to try to ruin the experience for others on the system and those are the folks I'm writing the quick warning about now.

With the release of the Vision camera, Xbox Live has truly become the place that Microsoft had previously warned us about with their generic "warning, gaming experience may change during online play" notice.

Xbox Live has always been a bit of a place where you had to be concerned about the langauge that others might use and the behavior you might encounter, but with the addition of the Vision camera the people that insist on ruining the experience for others are now able to make use of the virtual thousands of words via live pictures and some of them have been beyond crude and rude.

Eventually those people will be removed from the system as others report their behavior. Some may even find themselves nabbed by law enforcement agencies for things they suggest or try online. It's bound to happen, but it is a sad statement about some in our society that the problems exist at all.


Some comments about the Vision packaging

With the warning out of the way, I will say that getting the Vision camera has left me with mixed feelings. There were pre-release descriptions of what would come with the camera and obviously things were subject to change up until the last minute.

Some rumors made mention of a game that apparently wasn't ready in time for the initial batch of the packages, or perhaps Microsoft just decided that they wouldn't give the game away for free. Either way, the lack of the initially rumored Totemball game means that the camera doesn't offer the experience that those with the Sony Playstation 2 and the eye toy camera could enjoy. Hopefully Microsoft will make this up to customers in the future by keeping the pricing on Totemball very cheap (if not free, free would be very good!)

Meanwhile, the Vision camera enjoys a somewhat limited usefulness in current Xbox Live games. The games which support it are the card games and board game type games that are generally low bandwidth. The Hardwood Hearts, Hardwood Spades, Uno and Texas Hold 'em games being the first batch. Within those games, and with reasonable gamers involved, the camera makes a nice addition to the game -- especially with the Texas Hold 'em game where having the camera in the game can let you practice your game face against the others in the game. Let them try to read your face to see if you are bluffing and if you have a good poker face, perhaps you'll be more easily able to get your opponents to make the big bets you'll need to win to run them from the game.

The camera is also useful for Video chat with other Xbox Live gamers. You can fire up a chat session and make use of the technology that was dreamed of back in the 1950's and 1960's (if not earlier) at county, state and "world's" fairs. Heck, a better description is Jetsons' style technology. For those that want to make use of the feature, it can be a great thing.


Can be used with Microsoft Windows XP also

Somewhat surprisingly the Vision camera can be used with Windows XP also (and should be useable with Windows Vista in the future). That being said, there a few issues with such usage... read on just a bit further...


Incredibly sparse documentation leaves much to be desired

Unfortunately the documentation that comes with the camera is incredibly sparse. Heck, sparse is giving it too much credit. Granted, the device is plug and play and shouldn't be hard to make use of it, but the documentation that comes with it basically says plug it in and then quickly leaves off from there.

How about some instructions on how to use the device within Windows XP? Like, as an example, telling users how to use the device with Windows Live Messenger/MSN Messenger. Or, as an example, where to obtain another chat program or similar package that would be useful with the camera.

Worse, how about documentation that tells how to turn off the camera within the Xbox 360 system. Ooops, never mind, at least currently, as that is not possible on a global basis. On the Xbox 360 you can only turn off the camera in individual games, not globally. Hopefully that will be addressed in future updates/upgrades of the Xbox 360 dashboard.

For Windows XP (or perhaps later Vista) users, hopefully Microsoft will make instructions available online that document how to use the device with those systems if desired.


Is it worth the money?

Microsoft has a couple of packages available with the Vision camera. The basic package comes with the camera, a free Xbox Live Arcade game (which is currently the nice game Uno, but at the same time this is something to fault Microsoft for since Uno has long since been a best seller on the system and isn't something that most people that buy the camera would find themselves needing to purchase any more), It also includes a free month of Xbox Live Gold service, and is packaged with the Xbox 360 gamer headset (usable only with an Xbox 360 controller). Typically retailed priced at $39.99.

The higher level package comes with another Xbox Live Arcade game (Robotron 2084), a years subscription of Xbox Live Gold service, 200 Microsoft gamer points and the camera and headset. Typically retailed priced at $79.99.

Either package is worth the money, though if you don't need the additional pack-ins, obviously sticking with the lower cost package would make more sense. In either case the choice of pack-in titles that Microsoft has made can be frustrating for purchasers. The current pack-ins are games that have been available for a long time and most gamers will already have purchased them. It would have been much better for gamers if Microsoft had instead chosen to offer 400 gamer points or perhaps 800 gamer point cards. Doing that would have given gamers their choice of games to get for free. Instead, it seems that Microsoft and their partners have given away games that won't ever be played because they've already sold one to just about everyone.

Comments
on Sep 25, 2006
By the way, I should have included standard disclaimers about not working for Microsoft, their Xbox division, their Xbox Live division, etc.

I am a paying customer, lamer gamer, and enjoy playing to the best of my abilities.

For those that feel the article above is a shill piece for Microsoft, sorry, can't help you as it's not. I call 'em as I see 'em. If you don't like it, sorry. If you feel it is too friendly towards big bad Microsoft, sorry. If you think I unfairly ripped Microsoft for the stupidity of some of the gamers that play on Xbox Live, sorry.

That's as close as I'll come to apologizing though. Again, I write what I want, about what I want, and hope that it's useful for someone. Thanks again for taking the time to read the words
on Sep 25, 2006
It is a very good gaming console . I like it . It is a third gen version. By using this we can play online live games with videochat..
on Sep 25, 2006
Personally I will not be getting it anytime soon. I already have UNO so that part of the package is a waste, I already have a headset so thats a waste (it comes with all premium 360's for heavens sake, why would I need another??!) and there are only 4 games that support it. Maybe when its packaged seperately or only with points and has a use I might buy it.
on Sep 25, 2006
I already have a headset so thats a waste (it comes with all premium 360's for heavens sake, why would I need another??!)


Sadly the headset connections (thanks to the very flimsy wire that was used) are not the most sturdy. While I'm not trying to curse or jinx anyone, I'll say that having a spare headset is a good thing. My first one lasted approximately 6 months before I had to replace it. Replacements cost $19.99 which is half the cost of the cheap camera package.

I have another recommendation (I'll post it later) for replacing the headset with something a bit more durable, yet still inexpensive, but if you prefer the original equipment and use it all the time be aware that it may break on you at some point. From talking with friends, there are several people that I've encountered on Xbox Live that have gone through multiple headsets in their short times as Xbox 360 owners. Definitely not durable devices.
on Sep 25, 2006
It is a very good gaming console . I like it . It is a third gen version. By using this we can play online live games with videochat..


Ahmen. Better than the Ps3 expensive DRM rootkit filled POS.

WWW Link
on Sep 25, 2006
An update on the Totem Ball game that was supposed to have been in the packages -- several posts over on the forums at xbox.com are saying that Totem Ball will be free for *all* purchasers of the Vision camera. I hope that is the case, and that Microsoft comes through to let the buyers of the camera get the game for free.

If that is the approach that is used, then I congratulate Microsoft for trying to stick to the "we aren't gonna rush {the} game just to meet a deadline, we'll release it when it's done" approach. I'd much rather have to download the game later than get frustrated with a game that was clearly not ready for prime time that came with the hardware. Even though the ability to put out patches and updates is there, it's never any fun getting a game that you can't complete the basics of because of some show stopping problems that weren't caught before shipping.
on Sep 25, 2006
Stardock should release Galciv2 for the Xbox 360. I've been looking for a slow pace, take my time, game for the xbox and haven't found one I liked. With its wireless controller, i could just lounge on my couch after a hard days work.. Eat my Tv dinner and play Galciv till i fall asleep.

Imagine, with a Galactic Civilization created for the XBox 360.. We'll have higher resolution, even more amazing graphics, and maybe multiplayer. If not, that's okay..

C'mon Stardock, how bout it... Give us Galciv 360.
on Sep 25, 2006
Stardock should release Galciv2 for the Xbox 360. I've been looking for a slow pace, take my time, game for the xbox and haven't found one I liked. With its wireless controller, i could just lounge on my couch after a hard days work.. Eat my Tv dinner and play Galciv till i fall asleep.

Imagine, with a Galactic Civilization created for the XBox 360.. We'll have higher resolution, even more amazing graphics, and maybe multiplayer. If not, that's okay..

C'mon Stardock, how bout it... Give us Galciv 360.


Yes, Yes, YES! I agree It might be possible to port it to nomral xbox too.

Xbox
755 MHZ PIII
64 MB Video Card
on Sep 25, 2006
Hey, I too would love having a game like GalCiv2 on the 360, but given the pace with which Stardock has put out version enchancements, patches, and upgrades, it would best to let the game get stabilized first, and then perhaps get ported over to the 360 or other platforms.

There would also, of course, be the issue of cross-platform development that would have to take place so that the game is able to make use of the things mentioned above (higher resolutions, graphics, multiplayer perhaps, etc.)

Hopefully someday soon Stardock will be a console system developer, and hopefully it'll be on the Xbox platform, but for now I'm happy they keep doing such a great job on the PC side.
on Sep 25, 2006
I thought the whole point of a console was that you got all the stuff in one buy, no need to get all the extra gizmos.
on Sep 25, 2006
Actually, because of the stability of the platform, Galciv 2 would run good on the original xbox. I know stardock is pretty busy, maybe they can license a port version of the XBox to another company. Usually, that's how a game is ported from the PC to a console. I would even go for microtransaction to get new parts for the ship design. As long as its not unreasonable like 5 bucks to get 5 new parts.

I say Xbox 360 because of the wireless controller, and I can turn off and on the machine without having to get off the couch/bed.
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