Spawn On Me Episode 54: Midnight With Parris


Not only does Shareef Jackson come to hang out with Cee and Kah, but also GamerTagRadio’s Parris Lilly makes his first visit to Brookago! We talk about Parris’ long history in podcasting. Plus we get his take on the current state of video games. In this week’s Breakdown: We talk about Nintendo’s new console & their new mobile strategy, a new Joe Montana football and Take-Two and the ESRB. Plus, Stubby Stan gives you his Kinect tips?

Guest Info

@vicious696. @gamertagradio, @shareefjackson, @operationcube

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@stubbystan@kahjahkins@spawnonme@spawnpointblog @dantherobot

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Spawn On Me Episode 31:

We’ve had a week to digest all that is Destiny and we give you our update. We discuss the trials and tribulations of finding a good barber and dig into why your Kinect and Playstation camera might hold the key to gaming’s future.

Don’t Forget to Follow Us

@stubbystan@kahjahkins@spawnonme@spawnpointblog @dantherobot

If you like what we are doing let us know by subscribing to us on SoundcloudiTunesPodomaticStitcher, and Swell Radio!

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Bundles of Xbox One Bundles

Gamescom 2014 has been full of surprises and it’s just a few hours old! Xbox head, Phil Spencer, announced three new Xbox One console bundles to go along with the Xbox One bundle announced late last week.


Madden 15 Bundle

Announced last Thursday, the Madden NFL 15 Xbox One bundle will release in conjunction with the game’s release on August 26th.  Aside from the prerequesite accessories included in every Xbox One (chat headset, controller, and HDMI cable) the bundle is set to include a digital copy of the game, and three Madden Ultimate Team card packs. The price for this bundle will be $399.99. The bundle will not be available with the Kinect peripheral.


FIFA 15 Bundle

Announced today at Gamescom and available only in European markets, the FIFA 15 Xbox One bundle will release September 25th to coincide with the European release of the title. Included in the bundle besides the normal Xbox One goodies will be a digital copy of the game and an FIFA Ultimate Team gold card pack. The price for this bundle will be 349.99 British pounds or 399.99 Euros. This bundle will not be available with the Kinect peripheral. Editor’s Note: It seems that Forza Motorsports 5 will also be included in this bundle but as of this writing, that cannot be confirmed in English.


Sunset Overdrive Bundle

Also announced today at the Xbox Gamescom conference, the Sunset Overdrive Xbox One bundle contains the version of the console that many people were enamored with when it was first shown late last year.  That’s right, the white Xbox One that was originally given only to employees of Xbox at the console’s launch will now be made commercially available in this bundle. Scheduled to be released on the game’s October 28th release date, this bundle will contain a white version of the Xbox One console, a white Xbox One controller, a headset, HDMI cable, a digital copy of the game and all Day One content for Sunset Overdrive. No word on if the chat headset will also be white. This bundle will cost $399.99 in the United States, 349.99 in British pounds and $399.99 Euros. This bundle will not be available with the Kinect peripheral.


Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Bundle

The last and most different console bundle announced today is the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Xbox One bundle. This bundle features an specially Call of Duty:Advanced Warfare skinned version of the Xbox One, a similarly skinned Xbox One controller with special sound effects, a chat headset, HDMI cable and a 1 TB internal hard drive instead of the standard 500 GB versions. Additionally a digital Day Zero copy of the game with all of the benefits that come along with this edition of the game plus “additional in-game content”. This bundle will release on November 3rd, to coincide with the Day Zero release of the game and will cost $499.99 in the United States, 429,99 in British Pounds and 499.99 Euros. This bundle will not be available with the Kinect peripheral.

So if you don’t have an Xbox One yet, here are some brilliant choices for you. All of these versions are available for pre-order now and provide you an excellent value, basically giving you the included game for free along with the cost of the console. Which one will you be getting? Let us know in the comments.

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Xbox One July Update Preview Details

The newest monthly update for the Xbox One has been pushed down to preview beta members.  The update, scheduled for a July release, isn’t as substantial as June’s release but what lacks in bullet points it makes up for in quality features.   The  improvements for which you can look forward are as follows:

Snap-able Achievements

As if the team at Microsoft has been listening in on my XBL chat conversations and have finally added the ability to snap the achievement list for your current game or app.  A growing trend with Xbox One gamers is their apathy towards achievements. It’s my belief that it’s not because achievements are passe but because viewing them on the console is such a hassle. Viewing the achievement that you just unlocked became so unruly that most people would have to wait until their gaming session had ended, or forego it completely. The ability to snap the achievements completely alleviates this issue.   Additionally, the new achievement list will put the toughest achievements at the top of the list. Pressing the A button will give you the option to favorite an achievement, moving it to the top of your list, or search the internet for help on said achievement. Time will tell if this rekindles user’s interest in getting 1000 points per game.

 Double Tap To Snap

Another move to dis-Kinect the console (couldn’t resist the pun), snapping apps is as easy as pushing the controller’s Xbox button twice. This will bring up the Snap Center apps list. This option is perhaps not as quick as saying “Xbox snap —-” but is much easier than some of the other controller based operating alternatives so far.

 Like Video Clips

In an effort to make user created video clips more social, users will be able to like clips using the Smartglass app (currently only available using the Smartglass beta app).  As of right now, the only place  to see the likes is via the Smartglass app. Perhaps a big screen addition will be made in a future update. 

 New Language Settings

Now Kiwis, the Irish and Austrians will be able to control their Xbox Ones using their native dialects.  Austrian German, New Zealand  and Irish English are now selectable language choices. You do not have to live in those areas to choose those languages either. How do you say “Xbox, Record That” in German? Somebody please tell me!

So there you have it.  These are the new additions that Xbox One users can look forward to next month. No official release date has been given but we’ll be sure to update you if and when we do find out. Do these additions make you a happy owner? Do you feel like Microsoft isn’t doing enough?  Let us know in the comments below.



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New Xbox, New Xbox Experience

The Xbox One update 1406 has just been released to beta previewers and it looks to be one of the more significant, outward facing updates yet.

 What’s in a Name?

In another move that shows that Sony’s Playstation 4 is heading in the right direction, one of the first inclusions in the update is the ability for users to use their real names online.  Soon the days of wondering who RighteousBong69 is will soon be over. That is, if he chooses. Users will have the option of providing their real name to all of their friends, none of their friends, or any combination therein. No, you cannot choose just your Favorites as of yet but it’s already been suggested to Microsoft so it may make it’s way into the update by the time it’s released to the public. Additionally, the user will have the option to allow friends of friends to see your real name in the hopes that friends once-removed will see it and add you.


All the Space You Need

FINALLY…external storage has come to the Xbox One! External storage support, promised before launch, has finally made it to the console. External hard drives must be USB 3.0 or higher and must have a capacity of 256 GB or higher. No word on if there is a maximum storage threshold. Also note that there is only one USB 3.0 port on the current Xbox One (the one on the left hand side of the console, next to the optical drive) so there won’t be an option to attach multiple HDDs simultaneously.


 We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Kinect 

There will also be some changes that clearly had the new Kinect-less Xbox One in mind.  Now in the settings is an option to instantly sign one of the local users by default, similar to the Xbox 360.  This replaces the bio-metric sign in functionality provided via Kinect. Additionally, the Pins section has received a modest tweak, limiting the number of tiles from infinite to 24 tiles, or a screen’s worth. Two rows of 8 tiles, set as you choose. The third row has 7 apps/games with the last tile being a helpful reminder that your additional tiels have not disappeared but can be accessed and/or added to the screen’s worth of pins using the Xbox One’s Smartglass app. Games and apps can still be accessed using the My Games & Apps tile at the home screen.


But Wait, There’s More!

The other noteworthy feature is the to determine how the Xbox handles your A/V components when turning the Xbox off and on. This option existed previous to this update but the user is a given a little more control in the form of individual options for turning each component off or on independent of each other. This move seems to have been made with the understanding that users may not be using the Xbox One as the living room entertainment hub that Microsoft had forecasted it to be.

There you have it. New update. New Xbox experience. Expect to this update to roll out to all users sometime on or around June 9th to take advantage of the new $399 Xbox One going on sale that day.

Are you excited for the changes? Are you a beta preview tester & have an experience that you’d like to share?  Please let us know in the comments below.



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180 degrees

Microsoft Puts Their Feet On Eddie Murphy’s Couch

What is 51 weeks?

That’s the question in our game of Jeopardy. The answer: This is how long it took for Microsoft to confirm that they have no marketing strategy for the Xbox One and concede defeat in the next-gen console war. May 21, 2013, Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One to the world. The console announced that day had already morphed from the always online device it was rumored to be prior to its announcement.  Two weeks later, at E3 2013, the messaging out of Redmond changed some more; users will be able to play preowned games and the packed-in Kinect will not be mandatory to use the console but will be included in every box. While it was not going to be mandatory it was strongly hinted that Kinect is fundamental to the Xbox One experience thus justifying it’s $499 price point, 100 dollars more than Playstation 4.

Yesterday, all of that changed…again. Yesterday, Xbox head Phil Spencer, announced that the Kinect, deemed to be an integral part of the Xbox One experience, the same Kinect that was going to completely change your experience both as a gamer and as a purveyor of living room entertainment, will be an optional peripheral starting in June. The benefit to removing the piece of tech will be a $100 decrease in the price of the console to $399. This move makes it the same price as the more technically capable PS4. In concert with this announcement was the news that the Games with Gold program will also be making the move to Microsoft’s premier console starting with Halo:Spartan Assault and Max: The Curse of the Brotherhood. Like the Playstation Plus model that it’s duplicating, games will be available to you as long as your Xbox Live Gold subscription is valid (Currently users own their GwG downloads). Additionally, non-gaming/entertainment apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus, do not require an XBL Gold subscription to use. When these announcements were made, many people across the internet rejoiced. The push for making gamers play poorly made motion controlled games is finally over.  I am not one of those people.

Yes, I realize that price is an important factor for many consumers and for many I think this pricing will make the Xbox One more attractive. One of the myriad problems I have with this move is, “What about the 5 million gamers worldwide that were excited for what a future full of voice controls could mean?”. You read that correctly, in the 5 months of recordable data, almost 5 million Xbox Ones have been sold. This is roughly 60% better than the Xbox 360, year-to-date and by far Microsoft’s most successful console launch. While  the subtraction of Kinect isn’t necessarily the death-nail for the peripheral, the fact that they haven’t announced pricing for the console bundle with it, or the price of the Kinect sold separately, doesn’t bode well.

We’re just six months into the life cycle of the console and the console is doing exceedingly well, in a vacuum. Why did Microsoft feel the need to concede failure so definitively…and so soon? What type of messaging are they sending out to the world? Can you really trust a company that succumbs to pressure from the community the way that Microsoft has so recently? What if the powers that be had been this quick to react when they released the original Xbox with only an ethernet port and not coupled with a 56K modem that was the dominant technology of the time? Multiplayer gaming would not be what it is today without Xbox Live and Xbox Live would not be what it was, and still is, without standardizing every Xbox console to work only with a broadband connection.  This provided the consumer with a quality expectation and guaranteed that developers could design an Xbox game with multiplayer in mind because every Xbox owner would have the ability to have the same high quality experience.

It’s Not All Bad….

I’m not completely negative here. There are still a few things that we don’t know. We don’t know how much the “bundled” Xbox One will cost, nor do we know the price of the Kinect sold separately. Say they release the bundled Xbox One for $449 with a digital copy of Titanfall or Forza Motorsports 5  while also moving apps to the front of the pay wall. Would that have been enough to make the Xbox One an appealing choice? Let’s also say that the Kinect sold separately is $79, does that make a bundled Xbox One at $450 with a game, more attractive than Kinect-less one at $400? Personally, I think the console priced this aggressively coupled with the Games with Gold program and the destruction of the pay wall would have been all that was needed to achieve the desire results.

If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery Sony must be absolutely blushing this week! Virtually everything that Microsoft is doing they “borrowed” from Sony. Xbox’s used game policy? Sony did it first. Xbox’s handling of app services? Sony’s. X1’s free and discounted games program? You guessed it; directly from Sony. Xbox’s new price point? Ibid. Recently it was noted that the controller light bar that has caused much consternation for Playstation 4 users was added to work with the recently announced Project Morpheus. Often were there cries to have the light toggled off or have the controller redesigned to omit them. Instead, Sony remained steadfast, and silent. They had a plan and they stuck to it. They had conviction and a vision. They’ve only recently decided to share it with us. Why couldn’t Microsoft do the same? Why couldn’t the Microsoft of today be the same company that had the foresight and fortitude to weather the storm during the launch of their initial console?

What does the exclusion of Kinect mean for developers? Will we see the game that expertly marries motion and conventional control schemes? That prospect seems less likely now. How do we differentiate these current consoles from each other? More importantly, how do we differentiate them from last gen? Yes, they’re both technically more powerful than its respective counterpart but that’s it. To me, the Kinect was the most next-gen(y) thing about this new generation.  Its applications, from a gaming and a casual prospective was the one place where you could easily see innovations taking place. Now that’s gone and all we’ve got is stuff that’s pretty but stagnant.

Microsoft’s marketing messaging has been more temperamental than the internet critics they’re trying to placate. Will there be a tangible message that consumers and early adopters can understand? I guess we’ll find out at E3.

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Emanuel Jumatate, Xbox One

You Too Can Have A Xbox One Without A Kinect!

[y=O_NLK-jEDGc height=400]

So there you have it folks, the cheaper Xbox is now upon us. No Kinect now brings the console price exactly in line with its competitor and levels the playing field on that front. I find this pre- E3 announcement to be really interesting., with sales being not where Microsoft wants them this feels like a quick adrenaline boost that might equal a bump in numbers. The optics give this move one of desperation, but it could pull more people into the fold. Gamers aren’t really good with giving grace or giving companies their due so we’ll see how this plays out, especially because most Xbox users I know swear by their Kinect and its functionality.

So Xbox owners, how does this make you feel? For those of you on the fence, will this be the thing that gets you to the store? Let us know below.

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Xbox One’s May beta is chock full of surprises.

The now monthly incremental evolution of the Xbox One continues during May. The update rolled out for preview users last week and it seems focused solely on audio improvements.  Added to the settings menu is the Sound Mixer. This gives the user the ability to determine the volume levels for the main program versus the snapped app.  Think about a radio balance dial where moving the dial to the left provides louder volume for the main app and moving the dial to the right favors the volume of the snapped app. [NOTE: This was added to April beta but was removed before the official update was released] Additionally, there is a Chat Mixer. This option allows the user to determine what happens to the volume when chatting via the Kinect. The options are: mute all non-Kinect audio, reduce non-Kinect audio 80%, reduce non-Kinect audio 50%, or do nothing. Lastly, there is an option to opt into the Kinect voice recognition training program. This optional program gives the user the opportunity to help make the Kinect  more responsive for all users.

may update


Concurrent to the release of this console OS beta, Microsoft has also released the Smartglass Beta for Android, iOS, and (obviously) Windows. New features include the ability to completely control your cable box via Smartglass, including DVR functionality. The ability to power down each A/V component is also embedded within this remote control portion of the app. The other TV functionality added is the ability to view, and use your OneGuide directly from Smartglass. This includes the regular guide, favorites, as well as apps that are compatible with the OneGuide. Added to the app’s menu is a Featured section that highlights featured games, movies and music. No, there still is no ability to purchase media from the Smartglass app the same way Sony has with their Playstation mobile app. Accessing snapped apps and switching between them is actually faster using the app than it is even with the controller.  The Activity Feed is also on the home screen, meaning that a user doesn’t have to drill down into the Friends list to view it. Great news for all console based Twitch broadcasters: First off, Smartglass notifies users when their friends/favorites are streaming. Twitch streams can be viewed directly from Smartglass or the user can choose to push the chat screen to Smartglass while watching the Twitch stream full screen on their TV.


One of the hot button question since this generation began 6 months ago has been: “What IS next-gen?”.  I think the best answer is that next-gen is nuanced. Subtle. It’s the subtlety of these updates that truly scream “next-gen” to me. I’m particularly excited to see what Smartglass can become.  The maturation of what it is now versus what it was when it launched October of  2012 is simply amazing!


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Peter Molyneaux thinks Kinect is “a joke”.

Fable creator and promise-maker of all things great and small, Peter Molyneaux, has said the Xbox One’s Kinect “feels more and more like a joke.” In an interview with Edge, the former Lionhead studio head and current founder of 22Cans said “I actually wish Kinect wasn’t a requirement. It feels like an unnecessary add-on to me. Maybe it’s because we’re in England, and it doesn’t really use the TV stuff, but it feels more and more like a joke. My son and I sit there saying random things at it, and it doesn’t work.”

Molyneaux believes that eventually the Xbox One will be sold without the Kinect because of its lack of practicality outside of the US leading him to say “I’m sure [Microsoft is] going to release an Xbox One without Kinect. It would be unthinkable that they wouldn’t.” The principals at Xbox have been adamant that selling the Xbox One without the Kinect is not an option, going so far as to say that the Kinect IS the Xbox One.

Would you like to see an Xbox sold without the Kinect? Let us know in the comments below.


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Major Nelson’s Twitch Adventure

Yesterday evening “Xbox Broadcast” was uttered for the first time for the public. Larry Hryb, Xbox Live’s Major Nelson, hosted the very first public Twitch stream from an Xbox One. The hour long broadcast of Plants Vs. Zombies multiplayer modes proved to be quite informative. There were a couple of times during the broadcast that Hryb’s voice modulated despite his robust home internet connection of 30 mbps downstream and 10 mbps upstream but to be fair, even when those modulation instances occurred, they only lasted a few seconds each time, never really disrupting the viewers enjoyment of the commentary. The visual quality was, when compared to the PS4 streaming quality, excellent. Whether the quality is indicative of what users will see when the new Twitch app launches for the Xbox One on March 11th is debatable.

Twitch viewers count

Twitch viewers count

Initializing Twitch for the first time on Xbox One will test your internet connection speed and recommend video settings. You can toggle the streaming settings higher or lower as per your preference. Broadcast audio can be handled either through the Kinect or headset (Major Nelson was using the yet to be released official Xbox One Stereo headset).  The stream did not include Hryb using the Kinect camera because he ‘was doing this from home & doesn’t have his home studio set up yet’. If it is turned on, the Kinect camera can be placed in any of the four corners of the screen.  Broadcasters can also be in a party chat while broadcasting but only the broadcasters audio can be heard by the Twitch community.

Twitch with chat snapped

Twitch with chat snapped

Animated "Off-Air" Screen

Animated “Off-Air” Screen

Some FAQs:

Q: Can you unsnap the Twitch app and still broadcast?

A: Yes. The snapped Twitch app provides the broadcaster with community chat. This can be accessed using a second screen of your choice.

Q: Is there any Smartglass integration?

A: Not as of yet.

Q: Does “Xbox Record That” work during Twitch?

A: No. Your Twitch streams are automatically archived, however.

Q: What happens when you go to the dashboard?

A: There’s an animated placeholder screen. When the broadcaster is on this screen they have temporarily stopped broadcasting.

Q: Are voice commands disabled while broadcasting?

A: No. Voice commands will work as they always do.

Major Nelson says that they plan to do some more streaming towards the end of this week. There will also be a stream next Monday from SXSW debuting gameplay of Titanfall. The Twitch experience on the Xbox One looks to be one that will really bring the community together in ways that haven’t been seen on home consoles. If you have any further questions about what we saw in the stream please ask them in the comments section below. If you’d like to see the archived stream please click here.

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