Our new Indie Games subforum is now open for business in G&T. Go and check it out, you might land a code for a free game. If you're developing an indie game and want to post about it, follow these directions. If you don't, he'll break your legs! Hahaha! Seriously though.
Our rules have been updated and given their own forum. Go and look at them! They are nice, and there may be new ones that you didn't know about! Hooray for rules! Hooray for The System! Hooray for Conforming!
Microsoft and the "HDD of doom" (or the lack there of)
So as I was playing Mass Effect, it really started to dawn on me what the major disadvantage of having the HDD as "non-standard" is: Lack of disk/install caching in games. If any a game ever needed it, it was Mass Effect. I think I took months of play time off the DVD drive in my 360 with Mass Effect, because it was ALWAYS streaming from the CD. Because MS has the HDD as non-standard, and I think prohibits developers from using the HDD as a large disk cache (I know FF11 did it, but I haven't seen another game since), games like Mass Effect really suffer.
If there is an area where the PS3 can really shine, this is it. I refuse to believe it's difficult to ask the 360 if it has an HDD or not (it's probably a single system call), so why aren't more developers taking advantage of it when it's there? I refuse to believe it's because a "minority of players" have them, because we all know that's BS. I have no hard data of course, but empirical data suggests that it's probably 60% or more that have an HDD, versus those that don't. Is it HDD size? Is it a restriction from MS? Do any of you in the industry have some deeper insight?
What is stopping developers from actually using the HDD in the 360 for more than just saved games? A simple disk cache for games like Mass Effect would raise performance, lessen stress on the brittle DVD drive (I've had it stop reading the disc twice in Mass Effect, just freeze the system and drop to "Cannot read" screens) and put some of that HDD to use for something other than videos and saved games.
This is sort of a semi-rant/call for discussion on the subject.