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Xbox LIVE gets an upgrade; smarter matching and more achievements

Xbox LIVE has been pushing online multiplayer gaming forward since its launch in November 2002. Microsoft’s online service recently hit 46 million members and isn’t stopping any time soon. With the launch of Xbox One later this year, a collection of new features will be added to the service including smarter matching, a new reputation system, and a new style of Xbox achievements.

Asynchronous matching, also known as “Smart Match”, is a new service that allows game developers to completely change the way games search for and match players. If you are playing the latest release in the Call of Duty franchise and want to jump into a quick match, the server might put you into a game without DLC content – thus more players and a shorter wait time. Maybe you do want to play your favorite new map on launch day and don’t mind waiting 10 minutes; with Xbox One, the server can search for a match while you switch to a different task (such as watching television) and then alert you.

Want to skip match screens altogether? Remember beacons from Xbox 360 – they are getting an intense upgrade. With Xbox One, simply activate your beacon and the service will automatically began to search for players. No more waiting in line for a game to start.

Developers can also now take advantage of matching by very specific skill types or social factors. The new Smart Match system on Xbox One means one thing, shorter wait times and more play time.

The folks on the Xbox team have also decided to redesign the current reputation system. Xbox LIVE gamers aren’t exactly known for their “polite chatter”, so any upgrade to the system can’t hurt.

The new system not only allows you to report players, but also provide feedback to Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE service. Your feedback to the new system isn’t’ the only factor that will be incorporated; if you mute or block a player the service will take note.

The reputation service grades online social reputation on a scale of green (positive) to red (negative). Simply look at a player’s gamer card to see their reputation score.  Michael Dunn, Sr. Global Product marketing manager for Xbox LIVE, compared the new service to driving and insurance rates:

“The more hours you play online without causing others to have a horrible time the better your reputation will be, similar to the more hours your drive without an accident the better your driving record and insurance rates will be.”

If the Smart Match service notices that a player’s reputation is extremely low, it will only pair them with players of their same tier. In essence, if you play like an ass – you will be paired with those similar.

Finally, Xbox LIVE is introducing a new type of achievement to the family. There will now be both regular achievements and time based challenges. The new challenges will have to be unlocked during an eligible time window – if you don’t get the challenge in time, game over.

Both achievements and challenges will allow gamers to unlock rewards, display their valor, and be associated with a saved game DVR capture (new to Xbox One).

Challenges will not give out gamer score though. Cierra McDonald, Program Manager for the Xbox LIVE achievement service, stated the decision was a fair one:

“We want everyone to have the same shot at increasing their Gamerscore to its highest potential. Since challenges are intentionally temporary (an opportunity) and achievements never expire (a promise), only achievements may offer Gamerscore as a reward.”

One of the most exciting aspects of the newly redesigned achievement system is that it is now cloud based. Developers can now add new achievements to games after they are initially released.

Cierra also stated that a new achievement activity feed will be available on the Xbox One dashboard so you can easily keep up with what your friends are doing.

I am personally excited about all the new changes coming to Xbox LIVE and can’t wait to see you guys online! Viva la gamer!

marcham93's Gamercard

What do you think about the new updates – will they improve the overall multiplayer experience?

Source: Major Nelson's Blog [1,2]; Thanks, Martin, for the tip!

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Xbox LIVE gets an upgrade; smarter matching and more achievements

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That depends on what you play and how often you play it, plus the general level of interest you have in various genres. I've played NBA Jam and Jetpack Joyride on my Lumia 920 for several hours in a day, and I've had several long stretches of play on Gun Bros. Asphalt 7, Wordament, and a few others as well.
 
That's not to say that I dont' agree that console gaming still destroys mobile gaming, in terms of quality and longevity, but to say that mobile games have no long-term value is something that the market shows is untrue time and time again.

And I am sure the system will not be abused in any way. All the kids who play CoD, will either leave everyone alone, or provide positive feedback once they get their butts handed to them. Then you have issues with spotty Internet causing lag, and being reported for unsporting play.
I am not saying it's easy to come up with a solution, but it needs its own checks and balances.

Valhalla, the current system they use for Xbox Live, also takes into account the reputation of the individual doing the reporting... so if you report something and they deem it as valid, your future reports get more precedence.  The guy who downvotes people for no reason all the time or does it to an extreme?  The system knows to ignore him.  I'm sure the new system still has elements of that in place.

since they said it's comprehensive in the way you get rated, i would imagine they would include a parameter that takes the network status for each player into account *cross fingers*

"Your feedback to the new system isn’t’ the only factor that will be incorporated; if you mute or block a player the service will take note."
 
More people will block or mute than take the time to report someone. System seems to be weighted and balanced since its a combination of multiple things and not JUST feedback related.

During the Major Nelson discussion on the Live @ E3 interviews, I seem to remember it being verbally mentioned that the system will KNOW if the person being reported was actually cheating, or driving the wrong way on a track, or headshotting teammates, etc. So apparently, game rules are incorporated into the reputation system, and when a game can tell that someone was doing something fishy, I'm sure that it will factor in much more heavily than baseless spamming of the "give negative feedback" button from a team of butthurt, sore losers that want revenge and think they can falsely lower reputation

They mentioned during the reveal that one reason for the massive increase of servers backing Xbox Live is to allow multiplayer matches to be hosted on XBL servers rather than a player's Xbox. That has a couple of benefits - reduction in lag (and therefore cheats and glitches based on lag tricks) and the possibility for 64-128 player matches in some games.

Those changes alone are huge over the PS4 and add value to your XBL membership.

Same here! At the end of the day we gotta get what we wan't not which ever one is least hated upon. For me I like everything the Xbox has to offer, and.... Halo haha, plus now I will have my Kingdom Hearts! so excited!

I wanted to but haven't yet. I love my Xbox. I love being able to buy used games too. I'm a hater on not being able to play used games on the One like you can on the 360. Microsoft is kinda cloudy on this. Until Microsoft flat says it I'm in hesitation mode.

They aren't cloudy. Used game shops can gain access to their used game system to buy and sell used games. It only stops shady Craigslist meetups

Are you sure? I buy 80% of my games off Craigslist. There's nothing shady about Craigslist at all. I buy most of my cell phones there too. God I hope you wrong on this.

Same with me but, I use ebay...I hope they do not kill this market, as I love buying used games that I MIGHT play for $30 3-4 weeks after release. If I can't do that, it's less games that I will buy...

It also stops RedBox game rentals. No more try a game to see if you actually like it, before shelling out the whole $60+.

There are thes things called demos. And if it doesn't have a demo there are reviews, start at Metacrtic.com.

The set up is still not good enough. Key words are "participating retailers" (which means direct sale to someone is out unless they are your friend for 30 days, which is silly). The other key phrase is "so game publishers can enable you to" both trade or lend. You are entirely at the mercy of publishers whether you can sell or trade and the big publishers are the ones pushing the hardest to lockdown used game sales. It's not unreasonable to forsee abuse of this system.

Me too! I can't wait to get it. It's going to be an awesome b-day present to myself! I'm looking forward to be able to use Kinect in my small living room without moving couches out of the way. And of course day one digital downloads. No more pre-ordering, or driving into town to buy a game.

Sharing with 10 people depends on how they implement family. Sharing between family and between friends in Xbox one system are two completely separate things.

They have stated than "family" can be anyone. You can add a friend 3000 miles away and he/she can acess your shared games library.

Kinect glasses. I paid $9.96 at WalMart. They snap on your Kinect. Makes your Kinect work great in smaller areas. My son uses them in his bedroom.

Pre-Ordered mine too!
Funny thing is that Sony is guaranteed to implement the exact same "used" game policies as MS. The publishers control that aspect, not the manufacturers. At least we XBOX One users know what we are getting up front, whereas the PS4 people will have the rug pulled out from under them and then go crazy

Not true, please read more of the information available before making pointless comments. Used games will be supported in some manner, and so will reselling, loaning, and renting games.

http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/license

Trade-in and resell your disc-based games: Today, some gamers choose to sell their old disc-based games back for cash and credit. We designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers.  Microsoft does not charge a platform fee to retailers, publishers, or consumers for enabling transfer of these games. 

Also they talk about giving games to friends. Many people think their wording means that each game can only be given away once, I view it slightly differently. I view it that each person can only give each game once, as once the license is given away you cannot give that license to another person, but the person you gave it to will be able to give that license away once to another person, and so on and so forth.

I don't like the fact that there seems to be so much interpretation over Microsoft's info on the subject. You may view one aspect of the info "slightly differently", but what if Microsoft has a different interpretation on the matter of used games? This is why I'll be waiting for more clarification before I make my purchasing decision.

I agree, and Microsoft is notorious for having bad PR people who don't know how to fully explain things, leading into a lot of over reactions.

I was just offering my interpretation, hopefully Microsoft will soon fully explain these policies so there is no room for interpretation. Their wording in their posts allow for a fair bit it seems. 

The way you see it is the way I read it.  I'm sure it'll be more clear before too long.
Also, you could technically pre-order it now, so you have the day one, then if it doesn't turn out the way you want, just cancel the pre-order before it ships.  You don't get charged until they ship it :)

I should point out that since that post, in another article, we have found tweets from the official Xbox support account confirming facts about the family sharing program

This is what we know so far:
 
Family does not need to be in the same household
Family does not need to be blood related (Mehdi said you could add friends to it)
You can play the  same game at the same time
They will have access to your entire shared library.
Family playing your shared library will authenticate every hour (since it is a online shared library it isn't clear at this point if the games will stream, or download to their console)
 
There is another article about this too: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/06/microsoft-defends-the-xbox-ones-licensing-used-game-policies/   The quote box on the left hand side is what you want to concentrate on regarding the family sharing
 
It looks like this feature in part is meant to replace the ability to lend physical disks to your friends
Another good thread following this feature: http://forum.teamxbox.com/showthread.php?t=686854
 

And yeah, I've pre-ordered it from the MicrosoftStore Canada site

Can you define some manner? I love the One and wanna go that route. I just wish Microsoft would say it's the same as the 360 on used games.

It won't be entirely the same, and that is because they  are transitioning into digital content and that brings along a slew of new problems. From what I understand there will be participating retailers who will be able to handle the licenses and the process of unlinking those licenses from the gamertag/microsoft account. There is also talk that Microsoft will be creating their own trade-in/resell/buy service online.

I already explained you in a past article... you seem not to get it? or are you just trolling asking the same thing.
i already told you how it would work, and how there are not stores defined where you can buy or sell used games. only because you buy them in craighlist or ebay, and IF in the end they arent a way of selling and buyting used games... well still it doesnt mean you cant get used games somewhere else. it OBVIOUSLY wont work as 360. and i already told you that.

No definitely not trolling. Hoping..... I've got 278 physical 360 games and 200GB of downloadable games/content. My gamertag is tbonenga check it out. You'll see I have a ton of games. I also had a PS3. It was a dust collector so I sold it a while back. I'm a MS fanboy all the way. I hear so much on used games. I was hoping MS would clarify. Unfortunately if Craigslist / eBay games aren't allowed I'm out.

I think that a Microsoft developed online trade-in/resell system might fulfill the role that Craigslist/eBay serves. Perhaps their own classifieds/auction house system designed primarily for digital content,

Not only that, they've also made game sharing easier. Up to ten members of your family can log in and play any game from your shared library on any Xbox One wherever they are without need of the disk. You can always play your games, and any one of your family members can be playing from your shared library at a given time.
http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/license
 
Preordered mine yesterday
 

True, you just can't be playing the same game at the same time (which is understandable, you can't do that now unless you own two copies). 

Do you feel that their wording leads to the interpretation that only one other person can use it, or one person can use it at a time, or do you think that by 'any one' they really mean 'any'. I  hope it is the latter lol.

Actually, they did annouce that you and ONE of your family members can play the game at the same time from your shared library.
 
Give your family access to your entire games library anytime, anywhere: Xbox One will enable new forms of access for families. Up to ten members of your family can log in and play from your shared games library on any Xbox One. Just like today, a family member can play your copy of Forza Motorsport at a friend’s house. Only now, they will see not just Forza, but all of your shared games.  You can always play your games, and any one of your family members can be playing from your shared library at a given time.

This is the way I interpreted it as well. I can play multi from Ohio with my daughter in Arizona from the same digital copy of the game.

How would publishers feel about that though? You would be effectively using a single use license twice, which I think is what publishers would consider as piracy.

Seem like it is left up to interpretation, I don't view it as being able to play the same game, just that they could acess your shared library at the same time. As of now there is no digital content provider that allows the same game to be played at the same time from different locations, not that I know of at least. If Microsoft does what you are interpreting it as, then it would be huge.

Again, I don't view the 'and any one' meaning 'and one', if that was the case wouldn't it have been easier for them to just write "You can always play your games, and one of your family members can be playing from your shared library at a given time"?

 

On the flipside, it would also have been easier to just say  'and any of your family members'.
 

I agree the wording is a little unclear. By them prefacing with "You can always play your games" sounds like you would not be included in the count.
 
I'm sure we'll hear mor clarification on this but I'm hopeful.

An official Microsoft Xbox twitter account, @XboxSupport2, confirmed that you plus one other family member can be playing the exact same game at the exact same time. The rest of your family members sharing your game library can each play one of your other shared games any time they want.
 
So, if you have 10 family members, 9 of them can be playing 9 different games on your shared game list, and one of them can be playing the same game you are at the same time.

I find Joystiq to be anti-microsoft too, especially the commenters, but I sent a tweet to them regardless
 
Michael, you seeing this post? make an article about this :P
 
Further tweets seem that you can indeed play the same game at the same time, but only one of the 10 family members (not including you) can play at a time, so not all 10 plus you at once. 
 
https://twitter.com/XboxSupport2/status/345222136937472000
 
And it looks like gamertags will be shared in this situation
 
https://twitter.com/XboxSupport2/status/345252994721411072

I am sure they will, but they are probably being strategic about it. Given what the twitter accounts have said, there will be lots of info coming out over the next months. 

Given the PR shitstorm happening right now and all the negativity, many people have the propensity to twist anything Microsoft into a negative. I am sure they are waiting until this dies down, or until they can provide suitable answers regarding DRM, Privacy, and Internet connections to quell the issues before using features like this to hype X1. Right not talking about them won't do much good, it would just get lost in the negativity.

ehmm... you can still buy and sell used games. stop being retarded, it has been discussed too many times, i dont know why some people dont get it. oh and guess what, you can share games with 10 people around the WORLD.. you can buy, sell, share, give your games to a person. but yeah... does that mean i cant play used games? wow really.
 
so again, try to use your brain and learn how to read Microsoft information correctly... or actually read what Microsoft officially had said.

Technically you can play used games just as the 360. It's crooked but just go exchange a used game at a big box retailer. Bam you got a new unregistered game. Your good to go.

This sounds cool, and I absolutely love the smart matchmaking, I'm constantly talking with my friends about how we are going to be playing one game, and then Oh look at that Halo match is ready "Xbox join match" or just hit the button and bam right into the game. So excited!

I was reading about this earlier, very interesting stuff. Better matchmaking is always great, and if it works well it can be a competitive advantage for XBL. Living worlds also sound very interesting.

Not sure about this. If someone is new to a game they will be paired with bad players. That doesn't sound good at all. You'll get a horrible experience.
Achievements: If some are time based and I buy the game a couple months after it releases sounds like I might not be able to get all the achievements. If so I'd hate not being able to get all the achievements for a game because I didn't buy it on launch day.

If by "bad players" you mean people who aren't all that great at the game, then that sounds like the way it should be. But if by "bad players" you mean jerks, then I don't get where you got the idea that new players will match with only jerk players. New players with bad reputations will play with jerk players, sure.
Maybe I read the article wrong.

Neither of your points reflect what was discussed in the article.  If by "bad players" you mean "players who are not so good at the game," then they will be evenly matched.  If you mean "jerks," then that is false--it matches jerks with jerks, as the article says.  It does not say that it matches jerks with people new to the game.

The article explicitly states the difference between achievements--the ones we're used to on the 360--and the new-fangled "challenges."  If you buy a game years after it's released, you will still be able to complete 100% of the achievements, but not any of the challenges (unless a challenge is active).  Only achievements add to gamerscore.

 

Thanks for clarifying. There's a couple time related achievements on house of poker that I can't get. It drives me crazy

i doubt it the xbox one games looks better sony isnt getting the excusives like it has had i the pass cloud gaming oplus kinect and smart glass ms is ahead of sony in lot of ways sony will be catching up

The initial, first-year list of exclusives I saw actually showed one more exclusive title going to Sony than Microsoft. The question becomes (as it has been this generation), which genres you want to fill.

It looks like you need to 'Apply Logic'. Irregardless of PR shitstorm happening right now, there are fans who will buy it. There is 5 months for them to fully explain their policies in hopes to sway more minds as well. Microsoft has enough revenue and capital to pump money into it to make to do alright. It may not beat PS4 in terms of overall sales or NA sales, but it certainly won't be a disaster or flop.

Im not bothered buy the whole pre owned games fiasco. Give it a few months and somebody somewhere will have made a device that allows games to be played again.

What if someone blocks you because you beat them.
Then you'll be paired with scumbags next time you play, and the process repeats until you eventually get sick of Xbox.

The system will take note and if you continue to be blocked by other people, the problem is clearly you and your reputation will be lowered. A single person is unlikely to affect you. Conversly, I'm sure the system will eventually, if it wont at launch, notice if you're constantly blocking people and take action against you or something.

Furthermore, when everybody sounds like 10 year old boys, how are you supposed to know who's swearing at you?
I'm not keen on using this because it's a vague and unreliable system for setting an Xbox Live rep.

what are you talking about? if you dont know who is talking shit to you, dont just report or give bad feedback to a random person.
I dont see the issue you're having. Can you explain a specific scenerio where this will negatively impact you when you havent done anything wrong?

Here's a scenario. You said it yourself: "if you don't know who is talking shit to you, don't just report or give bad feedback to a random person"
What if YOU"RE that "random person" in the scenario.

Like I said, one person's feedback is unlikely to have any affect on your reputation; There would have to be a bunch of people giving bad feedback and reporting you to do so.

Every little bit counts. You cant trust people to not give you bad reviews. Especially when you have no idea who they are.

I think you're just be paranoid. We don't even fully know it will work exactly, you're just assuming the worse. It not like Microsoft doesn't have experience doing this type of thing, processing data.

Of'course I'm paranoid. Do you remember the old saying: "Hope for the best, plan for the worst"?
This is me planning for the worst. If I'm going to commit time and money into a service (Xbox Live), I don't want it to eventually come and bite me in the ass later on.

Dude it's a video game system, you're privlaged just to be able to have such a device and service. I dont expect it to be perfect, but if the way it's implemented starts to cause issues then they'll tweak it. Sure, hope for the best, prepare for the worst, but it doesn't mean you need to be paranoid. Don't get me wrong though, I completely understand your concern, I just don't see the reason to let something that hasn't even happened yet get to you, but i guess thats the nature of paranoia, lol.

It is. I'll post a comment here I wrote above:

During the Major Nelson discussion on the Live @ E3 interviews, I seem to remember it being verbally mentioned that the system will KNOW if the person being reported was actually cheating, or driving the wrong way on a track, or headshotting teammates, etc. So apparently, game rules are incorporated into the reputation system, and when a game can tell that someone was doing something fishy, I'm sure that it will factor in much more heavily than baseless spamming of the "give negative feedback" button from a team of butthurt, sore losers that want revenge and think they can falsely lower reputation

This sounds bad. I score pretty highly in TDM @ 2.7 KDR in COD, usually in the top 3, and about once per week I get a message calling me a camper, fag, pussy or every other slur you can think of. This is typically done by the person that has tons of deaths and insists on running around trying to knife people, quick scope and/or shoot nothing but RPGs.

I don't camp or other overly cheap tactics but im sure my rep will be very low just based on how many derogatory messages I receive.

Don't worry, it's not like the system won't be improved over time. I doubt Microsoft is unaware of these scenarios.

During the Major Nelson discussion on the Live @ E3 interviews, I seem to remember it being verbally mentioned that the system will KNOW if the person being reported was actually cheating, or driving the wrong way on a track, or headshotting teammates, etc. So apparently, game rules are incorporated into the reputation system, and when a game can tell that someone was doing something fishy, I'm sure that it will factor in much more heavily than baseless spamming of the "give negative feedback" button from a team of butthurt, sore losers that want revenge and think they can falsely lower reputation

I think they would have a system that says if you report or block a lot of people than your standards are pretty high and they wouldn't affect the players who are blocked's rep but if you only report/block people every now and then it would regard your opinion higher. If that makes sense.
If you block lots of people you affect peoples rep less. At least I hope.

Add achivements but, I hope they dont screw up the value in achievements. I got a fairly high score and I worked hard to get there. If they just give away achievements for being online, it lowers the value of having a larger score...

Yeah a single non fragmented online gaming service for all my games, apps and friends management with access to free/exclusive content! A model so bad Sony has adopted it.

as pc gamer, im happy that i dont have to pay every years for playing games online. and steam discounts are very nice too

I loved the Xbox One new system because u can still trade and sell ur disc games but just once. That's cool wit me. Also now I can give access to my digital library of games to my friends and play over there house without actually having to bring my hard drive or whatever kind of storage.

I love my Windows Nokia 920 but this new Xbox looks like an old Betamax my dad used to have! PS4 is superior in every way and almost £100 cheaper. Sometimes I think Microsoft have lost the plot! Just look at the media reports from E3 and the cheers and gasps from the Playstation corner! Complete management overhaul needed.

More like a PR overhaul. They could come back with their system actually including Kinect - an advanced motion and voice part of the Xbox system, while competing consoles charge for extra motion gaming accessories. Then they can spout of the ability to share your games, including with up to 10 friends or family members, and you can even play with one of those sharing family members the same game at the same time.

The cheers from the Sony camp really didn't even start until the DRM portion of Sony's event, and even that was because of the way they worded it (very, very nicely). It even framed it so that people now believe that Xbox One can't play used games - which is simply untrue. Either way, all Microsoft has to do now is tout their advantageous features and extra bonuses that come with the way their DRM system works.

The near future will reveal the true winner. Playstation is and will always be an all in one entertainment system, Xbox the game console will always be one step behind, shame.
Another surprise attack from the Japanese again catching the colonials off guard.

Someone needs to tell EA that achievements are not time sensitive. Most of EA games have achievements which are since they shit down the servers all the time making the multiplayer ones no longer attainable.

I want one but I still hope they change their mind about handing control of used games sales to publishers. No matter how they word it, and yes I have read the official page, that will be a sticking point for myself and others. I like the bells and whistles but they don't make up for the way the used games situation is being handled. It is still a wait and see for myself, family and friends.