Ask X3F: Obscurity edition

Here we are for yet another edition of Ask X3F, and we've made a discovery. It seems you readers just love sending us questions about games everyone seems to have forgotten. This week we answer questions about (get this) Interstellar Marines (who?) and the video game versions of both Heat and Sin City. At least, we try to answer them. Interstellar Marines seems to have done everything short of disappearing. We also address charging for gamerpics and themes and the console real time strategy experience. Click ahead for your questions, and our answers. As always, feel free to supplement our answers (especially on these obscure games) with your own knowledge.

Got a question for Ask X3F? Maybe you have a story or some information you'd like to share? Send it all to ask [att] xbox360fanboy [dawt] com.

Edward sends us this picture to share his "undying love for everything gears of war and xbox 360." It's the Gears of War 2 logo, which he has drawn onto his front door (complete with blood spatter):

Wow. Edward, while we appreciate your enthusiasm and dedication, we can help but wonder what your neighbors must think (or your real estate agent, for that matter).

Do you think Microsoft will invest in the Vision Camera and make it a viable peripheral (especially directly for gaming) in the future, as Microsoft has lacked in doing so in the past?

We get the feeling that if you asked MS this question directly, the company would reply that it already has made the Vision cam a viable peripheral. There are plenty of games that make use of the Vision camera in one way or another. Rainbow Six uses it for face mapping. Burnout Paradise uses it to take your license picture. Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise uses it to scan cards. Granted, only a handful of games actually use the Vision camera to control the action on screen (and most of them aren't what we would call AAA titles anyway), but it's definitely being used. Whether or not we'll see more inventive uses for the camera (like Eye of Judgment on PS3, for example) probably depends on whether or not companies think they can make any money off such an idea. Sure, Microsoft can try to push it with "games" like You're in the Movies, because Microsoft has a vested interest in the peripheral succeeding, but other companies won't join in unless there is potential to make money.

Dear X3F
I've got 2 questions to ask you :
first is : why do we call you X3F? is there a meaning? and the second is about an old game we last heard of in 2006, a bit before E3 and it was called Interstellar Marines. since then, it has been (AFAIK) a complete blackout. so ... what happened? is the game dead? cancelled? still a WIP? RECON?


The answer to the first one is easy: Xbox 360 Fanboy. X3F. Get it? As for Interstellar Marines, you know about as much as we do. We've searched high and low, and there is nary a peep about the game mentioned since 2006. We did uncover an article at PSU claiming that Interstellar Marines would appear at this year's GDC, though we didn't see it at the event. We've contacted Zero Point Software, the game's creator, to see if we can't find something out. We'll be sure to report anything we hear.

Why don't more Xbox 360 game developers package more digital content with their games? 360 gaming is an all-around experience (hence the "360" name), not just gaming.

I would really like to see more of my game purchases come with access to free gamer pictures and themes, along with content for my 360's media tab, like music (perhaps MP3 tracks from the game that I can put in my 360's playlists), pictures (like concept art and box art from the game), and videos (behind-the-scenes, tips and strategies, etc.).

I was thoroughly impressed that the Xbox Live Arcade title "Castle Crashers" took advantage of the 360's other features outside of the game. Upon purchasing the full version of Castle Crashers, I was given access to a very nice-looking free dashboard theme. At some point during game-play (I suspect upon completing the game), I noticed that a new gamer picture appeared as an option in my profile.

Unlocking content upon Achievements? How cool is that? And that's from a downloadable Xbox Live Arcade game - the big studios that release blockbuster retail titles on disc could learn a lot from these Behemoth guys.

With the "New Xbox Experience" coming up, that seems to open even more options. How awesome would it be to unlock game-themed clothing, accessories, facial features, etc. for your NXE avatar when you unlock certain in-game Achievements?

(On the flip side, I wouldn't want content to start piling up on my hard drive unbeknownst to me either. Game developers wouldn't have to invisibly spam our hard drives with content. It seems like they could put an option in the game's menu to "download content to selected local device" or something.)

Thanks for running a great website! I check it every day.

- Xbox Live GamerTag: Operator1

Man, way to write a long letter! There are a few points to hit concerning your idea that developers should include related content -- like gamerpics and themes -- in their games. The most obvious reason they don't do this is easy: they' want your money. Why give themes and gamerpics away for free when you can make money off of them?

The second thing to note is that quite a few games actually do come with gamerpics, especially Xbox Live Arcade games. Also, your idea to let achievements unlock new Avatar accessories? It just so happens that Microsoft is considering the same thing. Of course, they aren't ruling out charging for accessories either.


I've never really given a RTS a chance because I've never had a computer powerful enough of handling them. There are some decent RTS titles available for the 360 and I was wondering if there was any mouse and/or keyboard support to beter handle these games? I'd also like to play shooters with a mouse and keyboard for the added accuracy if this was available.

There is a grim reality that you will have to face here: there will never be official Mouse and Keyboard support for games on the Xbox 360. There are third party alternatives, but we don't recommend them. On the bright side, there are a plethora of console optomized real time strategy games headed to the 360. EndWar, which launches later this year, uses voice commands in lieu of controller input (though you can use that too). Halo Wars, which drops early next year, uses a very accessible control scheme designed for consoles from the ground up. We were very impressed with Halo Wars at E3 earlier this year. And then there is Stormrise, which arrives sometime next year and promises "a change is coming" for console RTS games.

I have heard sporadic rumors of an in-development video game based on the film Heat. One even claimed that De Niro, Pacino, and Kilmer would do voice work. Is there any truth to these rumors?

Also, is there any news on the Sin City video game that was announced a while back?

Thanks for any info!

We know nothing about the Heat game at all, other than the fact that IMDB claims it will release in 2009 and that, yes, it does feature the voices of Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, and Val Kilmer. As for Sin City, the last we heard of it was that it had changed developers and on track for a 2009 release. The game was moved from Transmission Games to a different, unnamed studio. Assuming both games make it through the often calamitous development process, we imagine we'll be hearing more about them next year.

That's it for this week, folks. Keep sending your questions to: ask [att] xbox360fanboy [dawt] com.