Gadling's resident pilot explains what life in the cockpit is like

Ask X3F: Microsoft Game Shenanigans edition

Ask X3F returns yet again with wild speculation, quick and dirty research, and almost no real information. Just kidding! We're very professional and stuff. This week, we show it off by discussing the benefits of wired controls, anti aliasing, and discussing the current state of Microsoft Game Studios. Find all of this and more -- stuffed to bursting with professionalism -- after the break.

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.

Yo playas,

I got a question fo' u. I is thinkin of gettin' anuder controlla but I don't know-whatta-get. Ok I'm tired of typing like that. My cousin (just born) comes over very rarely but he comes either way and he always wants to play two player whenever possible. I would like to buy a controller but I don't know if paying extra for wireless is
worth it. I already have one wireless controller and even then I sit close enough to the TV to use a wired controller. What do you think? Please keep in mind that I may use the controller for playing on PC
(once I build it).

P.S. is the 300 points for the Mass Effect DLC worth it or should I put it towards the controller?

Venas Rotas

First of all, thanks for dropping the txt msg speek. You had us worried for a second. As for the controller, keep in mind that a wireless controller will require an additional receiver to work on a PC. That's $50 for a new wireless controller and an additional $20 for the receiver. A wired controller, on the other hand, will work on a PC without any additional hardware and will only run you $40 brand new. Frankly, we love our wireless controllers, but in your situation it sounds like wired is the way to go.

As for the Mass Effect "Bring Down the Sky" DLC, we've never played it, so we tracked down Joystiq head honcho (and snappy dresser) Chris Grant for an answer. He told us that the DLC is definitely worth it. The mission tops off at about 90 minutes, though Chris told us that it really feels like a main mission in the game and not a throw-away mission. And for 300 points ($3.75), it's pretty cheap. Keep in mind that you need to have a save before the end of the game to access the DLC. Otherwise the only way to access it will be to start a new game.

Hey I've kind of a technical question, and perhaps you get get some 360 devs to comment.

When the 360 first came out, ATI touting the capabilities of the Xenos GPU, stated that it would allow 4xFSAA at little or no performance cost (due to the 10MB EDRAM). Was this an accurate statement on MS/ATI's part or just marketing spin? Because most of my 360 games use either 2xAA (PGR3/4, Oblivion, Gears) or none (Halo 3).

Any reason AAA games on 360 don't use this feature? I have a 1080p 50 inch LCD and some levels on Halo 3 (eg. the beginning of the Storm) look horrible, due to the lack of AA.


Frankly, we have no idea how to answer your question. Any attempt to do so would result in a response cobbled together from guesses, Google results, and thin air. Rather than subject you to this -- as you clearly know more about anti-aliasing than we do -- we'll just submit this question to our loyal readers.

While we can't answer the reality vs marketing spin question, we would speculate that different developers would give you different answers, especially given the sporadic configurations you mentioned.

Is there a way of inserting a game disc and not having it run? You know, like holding the "shift" key on a PC when loading a CD. Any method similar to that on the 360? Just wondered.

Cheers! Andrew

Nope. If you're 360 is running and you pop in a new disc, it will run. Period. Unless, of course, there is some method of inserting a disc that we are not aware of. As far as we know, it's impossible.

Hey X3F, In advance my grammer is teh suxxorz...

How do you cancel your subscription to XBOX LIVE Gold? As a payment option I choose one month, thinking it will be a one time purchase for a month. Apparently it's a monthly purchase and each month it takes 8 bucks out of my pocket, I barely play online so I want to cancel it, any way how?

Will microsoft ever let you actually buy HD movies from the marketplace, I always thought they didn't allow you to buy then because they were supporting HD DVD, but then that died and still no option to buy, then I thought it was because of restrictions from the movie studios, but then SONY started allowing people to download movies when they launched they're video store. Shouldn't it be the other way around considering MS thinks digital download is the future.
Have you heard if they're implementing it in the Fall Update?

With the recent departure of Ensemble from MGS, it got me thinking what is up with Microsoft gaming division, what's your guess on the matter?

According to, the only way to actually cancel your membership with Xbox Live is to call customer service at 1-800-4MY-XBOX. In other words, get prepared for the customer service rep to do everything humanly possible to keep you from canceling your membership.

We can't definitely say whether or not Microsoft will ever enable 360 users to dowload movies for keeps, but we're inclined to think it's not coming any time soon. There are a number or reasons for this. One, buying movies online and only being able to watch them on your Xbox 360 isn't terribly appealing. It's also more expensive than rental. The much bigger concern is that HD movies take up a considerable amount of space. Even a 120 gigabyte hard drive will fill up fast if you download a lot of movies. Now, if Microsoft wanted to start a service that allowed users to transfer their movies from 360 to PC to Zune, we might be on to something (Sony, FYI, allows downloaded movies to be transferred to a PSP). Until then, spending $20+ on an HD movie you can only watch in one place doesn't exactly sound like a deal. Netflix, on the other hand, sounds awesome.

As for Microsoft Game Studios, we wouldn't worry. Studios close and new studios are formed all the time. It was never part of the Microsoft Game Studios strategy to acquire lots of developers, as evidenced by their relationships with BioWare, Bizarre Creations and Epic. We would imagine it's cheaper when you don't actually have to manage every aspect of a game's development, after all, though you do run the risk of developers being snapped up, as was the case with BioWare and Bizarre Creations. For what it's worth, in the letter announcing Ensemble's closing, MS stated that "the overall investment Microsoft is making in video game development is not diminished." Noting that the decision was "fiscally rooted," it sounds like Ensemble just wasn't making Microsoft enough money. C'est la vie.

Hey everyone,

I was wondering why you seem to have stopped providing marketplace updates? I liked reading about what was coming out, especially what movies would be out in HD.



Truth be told, we didn't think it was a terribly popular feature. However, we have heard your call Dylan, and the times, they are a' changin'. Thanks to your sole request, we will post a new Video Marketplace Weekly very soon. For everyone out there that likes the feature, be sure to leave a comment on the next installment showing your support!

I recently bought Call of Duty 4 Game of the Year edition on sale, and opened it up to see there was no map voucher in it. WTF? I thought that was the whole point of buying the one that ruins cover art.


Unless you bought a used copy (which we're guessing you didn't) it's time to take that 'ish back to the store and get yourself another. In fact, we'd say you might as well open the box right up in the store and see if the token is in there. If not, hand the box right back and ask for another one. You paid for your Call of Duty 4, now make sure you get it.

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

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