A couple of Xbox 360 topics this morning.
from the Gamerscore Blog, we find that this summer they’ll be releasing
a miniature QWERTY keyboard
for your Xbox 360 controller. It was just last night I was complaining
about the stupid virtual keyboard and having to run the thumbstick
around to send a message. I’ll definitely be picking one of these up.
You can see Flickr photos of the keyboard
attachment as well
as a press release about it and an upcoming dashboard
(The feature I’m looking forward to in the dashboard update: “A richer
Achievement notification pop-up will showcase the name of the unlocked
Achievement and the gamerscore value without needing to leave the game
to check the Achievements list.”)
Second, something I’ve noticed lately is that in certain games and
during certani music tracks, I’ll hear a static/crackling sound when I
have the sound running through my receiver. I don’t hear the static when
I listen to a CD or watch a DVD through the Xbox, I don’t hear it in
most games, and I don’t hear it from any other component in my home
theater - it’s just certain bits of sound from games and digital media.
I also don’t really hear it when I listen through just the TV speakers
via analog stereo connections.
I called Xbox Support about it to ask what the deal is. I explained the
situation in detail (it took a while to get the details straight; I
don’t think they have very many people calling with complex issues) and
after maybe half an hour on the phone, we arrived at two conclusions:
1) Certain games and sounds are not well optimized for digital output.
Particularly in Xbox Live Arcade games (which is where I’m hearing the
most static), QA doesn’t always take the time to ensure that the sound
is good on a high-resolution audio system. Since I’m not hearing it in
all games and/or all media, it has to be a media/game specific problem
that can be chalked up to bad sound engineering and QA.
2) I am a nitpicky perfectionist when it comes to audio/visual quality.
Jenn doesn’t hear the static until I point it out, but it’s blaringly
obvious to me. It makes me wonder if there is a lower population of Xbox
360 owners also having that Xbox 360 connected to a reasonably high
quality home theater system where the problem will evidence itself.
Regardless, once I hear the issue, I can’t not hear it, so I just put
up with it when it rears its ugly head. Again, it’s not in all games,
just a few. (Bejeweled 2 is a particular offender.)
Consider this a request to game companies and QA everywhere - test out
your games not only on a standard user’s low-end A/V system but also on
a higher-end system to make sure your game holds up.