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The PA Report - Living with the Xbox One: Thoughts after the launch



  • InfamousDSInfamousDS Registered User regular
    RE: All-in-One, Performance, and Apps
    PS4 is a superior system. This is the result of a combination of hardware and OS design, which the former holds as irrefutable fact (just read any system specs) and the latter can't be proven just yet (not enough software on either console).

    The X1 has three OS installed, one of which appears to be a customized Win8. Win8 was based physically on WinPhone8, which was inspired by iOS, which also inspired Android's Linux kernels. All of these smartphone OS have a single thing in common. That thing is ready-always, the name I have given to the ways apps are treated. Even if Win8 is completely and utterly unrelated to X1.0, it does share UI similarities for brand recognition, and here's the key part, APPS ARE ALWAYS READY TO GO. You have only 1 game-state always, and my understanding is that all non-game apps can be "hidden"/"minimized"/etc.
    Each time you open an app, it reduces system performance. Snapping will one day soon make games unplayable, or at the very least, X1 game designers will have to deliberately break their games to meet the reduced system specs.

    Why? Well, it should be obvious that games are resource-intensive software. Controlled loops that are semi-permanent, heavy reliance on external assets, and constant hardware calls all combine to make even small games considerably harder to run when compared to a standard program of the same relative code-base size. You can even look at install sizes and plainly see that games are crazy by comparison. For every non-game application you run, there are fewer resources to devote to the actual game. Things like snapping and apps being saved to run at all times are bad for games, and... not really great for anything but multitasking really.

    We've had all-in-ones for years, they're called computers. And any gaming enthusiast who plays PC can tell you that performance is a linear progression, sometimes even exponential. Games that could run and look reasonably well on last-gen wouldn't even start if you made an equal machine towards the middle or end of it. You had to make progressively better machines to play the minimum in a linear sense, and exponentially better to play them at their absolute best (excluding mods).
    FF14 makes for a great example. On PS4, the game runs well in low-traffic areas and suffers moderate to heavy lag based on current players nearby. Unfortunately there is a forced 3 second server lag, but all of these problems are network-based. Graphically, it looks fine. However, on my machine which is 16 to 32 times better (powers of 2 FTW!), the game can't run on maximum settings at all and I can only handle maybe a 15-20% increase in graphics over the PS4 version. The lag doesn't exist, but I can assume that it is because I have a better NIC card and PC is designed by default to handle larger player populations. This is the difference between a devoted games machine and an all-in-one device.

    Enter Valve. The Steam Machine promises to eliminate as much not game stuff as possible while still technically being a home computer. Game performance won't be based on guessing you've got the right parts and overcompensating by a wide margin for base OS features. It has its own problems to overcome, but the promise is there.

  • skt84skt84 Registered User new member
    @INFAMOUSDS Holy shit, I couldn't tell if you were trolling or just ignorant but now I know you're functionally retarded. You obviously don't know what you're talking about and we are all dumber for having read your drivel.

  • metroidkillahmetroidkillah Local Bunman Free Country, USARegistered User regular
    @InfamousDS: Assuming your idea about "always ready" apps using up resources is accurate, do you not think that the OS devs would not have thought of that? That seems pretty important to me.

    Also, do "snapped" apps/things in the Xbone's UI definitely use up resources? Are you absolutely certain? I ask because your entire essay- though seemingly well-informed- is largely theoretical and based on inference. I'm not saying you're wrong, but you need actual evidence.

    I'm not a nice guy, I just play one in real life.
  • SiddownSiddown Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    InfamousDS wrote:
    . That thing is ready-always, the name I have given to the ways apps are treated. Even if Win8 is completely and utterly unrelated to X1.0, it does share UI similarities for brand recognition, and here's the key part, APPS ARE ALWAYS READY TO GO. You have only 1 game-state always, and my understanding is that all non-game apps can be "hidden"/"minimized"/etc.
    Each time you open an app, it reduces system performance.

    Interesting theory, completely wrong, but interesting.

    This is not how mobile OSs work, and there are plenty of available tests available online have shown this. Starting from start up, you have a certain amount of resources taken by the OS and the rest is free, when you open your first app, it takes as much memory as it needs. If you open a second app, it'll target the free resources first, if it can open without freeing up resources from the first app, it will making switching between apps easy. But by the time you open a third, fourth and fifth app, eventually it'll start unloading apps (the last one used being first) when you don't have the free resources.

    The unloaded app will still appear in the "recent apps", but that doesn't mean it's actually using memory (something I wish they would show somehow).

    This is very easy to see in mobile devices, open up Angry Birds and you'll see the long start up screen, open up another app and switch back to Angry Birds and the start screen won't be shown because it's still loaded in memory. Now open a bunch of other apps, play around with them for a few minutes, then switch back to Angry Birds and you'll get the loading screen again as it loads since it's no longer in memory.

    If what you were saying was true, no smart phone would function within a few minutes of a kid getting a hold of it. When I give my iPhone to my son to play with in the car, by the time we get to where we're going, I can see that he's opened at least a dozen apps.

    Siddown on
  • GunganGungan Registered User regular
    edited December 2013

    Snapped apps most certainly use resources because they're running concurrently with your game; it literally couldn't run without using resources from somewhere. Now, they may use a reserved processor core that is unavailable to games (ie: reserved for UI/apps) which shouldn't affect gameplay, but all the of RAM and the GPU time is shared system wide so it definitely uses some of those.

    We already have a case in these comments where a fellow has had to reboot the Xbone because the performance was degrading after prolonged use without a restart.

    Gungan on
  • metroidkillahmetroidkillah Local Bunman Free Country, USARegistered User regular
    @gungan @InfamousDS: Sorry, I was still thinking about "always ready", rather than "snapped". All this newfangled tecnology and it's jibba-jabba terminology confuses me at times.

    Point being, though, that it seems silly that a person would have SO MANY apps running concurrently that it's obviously detrimental to the operation of the console. For starters, there's only so many apps the console can/will have, and you'd think the dev team would have thought of a solution for such a case. It seems like a pretty obvious chink in the armor- you know, the very same weakness that absolutely every other multi-function computing device has.

    I'm not a nice guy, I just play one in real life.
  • MutonMuton Registered User regular
    @Nerje @Dbrowdy

    Agree 100%, and you're right. Sony targeted gamers, and that's a good short term play. MS with the XBox is making a bigger, long term play by moving out of the kiddie pool and stepping into the ocean.

    Bill Gates' house is a technological marvel. It's reported that guests wear pins that the fully networked house can identify and adjusts temperature, music, and lighting in the room to their specific preferences, with pins ranked in a preferential order so the house identifies the most important person in the room and sets to their preferences. There are smart meters that adjust your power consumption to minimize usage today. Companies are networking every appliance you can buy; hell some crazy guy invented a toaster that hooks up to the internet and can be controlled from your computer 5 years ago. There are windows designed today to be opaque, and when you run an electrical current through them it lines up the molecules and allows light to pass through; no need for shades (or walls), you can turn your entire wall into a window with the flip of a switch. This was all designed and on the market 5 years ago.'_house

    People forget that Microsoft is not a gaming company, they're a software utilities company. They're in games because it's a big segment of the software industry, but that's not their only nor even their primary business line. However, with the Kinect's current voice command and motion sensor control technology, I fully see MS taking the XBox brand away from games and making a fully automated, fully controlled networked home. The XBox would become the central server, you put a Kinnect sensor in every room, and you control the lighting, the opacity of the windows, the temperature, the media in a specific room (every room with a television and speakers), all by waving your hand. It connects everything from your refrigerator to your toaster oven so you can ask the system to make you breakfast as you're getting up and taking a shower. The Kinect sensors act as a security camera for home safety and a control sensor that identifies your voice, can control every aspect of the house, and on the back end manages your smart meter to minimize power usage.

    Does that sound like a pipe dream? It shouldn't, because all of those products exist today, you just have to network it yourself or control it manually. The XBone cannot do all of that now because it's not designed to in it's current form. In 10 years (or less), expect the next Xbox to pivot towards a fully automated home/office system, that oh yeah can play games too, but it's potential is so much more. This is where MS is going with the XBox. It's the direction everything else is headed, and MS is uniquely poised to be at the center of all of this by networking all of this stuff together into one elegant control schema.

  • xaoxao Registered User regular
    @Dark Jaguar

    Gosh, I guess it's a good thing nobody said you were afraid of any evil robot nightmares then, huh? In fact, that makes your claim... something of a strawman, doesn't it? As I mentioned earlier, it's possible to construct a valid slippery slope argument, you just didn't do it. You neglected any intermediate steps and failed to demonstrate how one event made another more likely. This made your argument a logical fallacy.


    Oh, I agree that there's plenty of evidence that many entities have a vested interest in eroding our privacy. The problem is that none of the arguments we were discussing bothered to include any of it. Furthermore, it's not valid to say that such entities exist and use that to prove that Sony's policy will lead to a breach of privacy. It's akin to saying "some fish want to eat me" and using that to demonstrate that you should be afraid of goldfish going after your consumable rights. Likewise, you still need to draw parallels in behavior between TSA/Facebook and Sony/Microsoft if you want to use the former's actions to drive a response to the latter.

  • dbrowdydbrowdy Registered User regular
    @XAO: I agree with you, I just don't have time to write a CASEYREECE-style dissertation on the subject. For example, the TSA didn't need a good reason, just fear-mongering. Oh and the guy who runs the TSA also runs a company that makes the Rapi-scans. Convenient.

    Sony could use the money from selling our information... sorry, I mean "making it public"... they're in terrible shape financially. That's really all that it could take in my mind. A little bump to the bottom line, maybe some targetted fear-mongering... err I mean marketing...

    I don't think this stuff is the realm of fantasy and I don't think it's as overblown as you're suggesting. I could construct a much larger argument, but honestly I just can't be bothered. lol We'll have to agree to disagree on the likelihood of this happening.

    I'm glad we can all agree that it's highly undesirable, though. :)

  • GunganGungan Registered User regular
    edited December 2013

    Right, because that's at all logistically possible in an old construction home and a budget of $500. Smart homes have high upfront costs if you're building a home from scratch, and an even higher one if you're trying to retrofit an existing home. It isn't going to happen for anybody but the rich.

    Xbox is their entertainment brand, not a smart home thing. If they tried to pivot that way the general market wouldn't be able to afford it. This has nothing to do with smart home technologies, which is a vastly niche market that only big fish swim in.

    It's obvious even at this point that the thing they want to do with the Xbox brand is to be able to put their tiled overlay on every piece of entertainment you consume so that they can sell targeted advertising. They're starting with TV because actually being the centre of a proper home theatre (working like a proper receiver for multiple inputs and surround audio) would put them well out of the price range of anybody shopping for a console.

    Sick of people describing it as a home theatre box, when it's little more than a media player.

    Gungan on
  • NerjeNerje Registered User regular
    @gungan @muton

    Microsoft are openly and actively moving to become a services and devices company. The purchase of Nokia lends to this; they get a whole bunch of patents and tech so that they can push into consumer hardware, and the surface is an incredible piece of hardware that (while marketed badly) really fulfils their whole "one device that is everything for everyone" attitude.

    So yeah, Muton, it is very possible that they'll move into that territory. It really wouldn't be that hard to produce and licence a "Windows compatible" receiver that comes ready-installed in air conditioners, ovens, hell even toasters. Light switches. Car ignitions. Vacuums! The idea that these non-MS appliances could interface with devices running Microsoft operating systems (Nokias, Surfaces, Xboxes) is absolutely feasible in the near future. And totally viable cost-wise for the mass market.

    Xbox, however, as a brand, is their services aspect. Xbox Live, Xbox Music, Xbox Video, all of it is part of their plan to produce, publish, distribute and licence various forms of media. I'm not going to lie; I had an Xbox 360, so I got a Windows Phone 7 for extra achievements (now, Win Phone 8). My thirteen year old Hotmail account made me eligible for extra Skydrive space so there was no need for me to find an alternative cloud storage solution. When I was in the market for a new laptop, Wacom and tablet this year I saved an incredible amount of money getting a Surface Pro. I bought Office along with it; came with a free year of Xbox Live. So when it came to picking a music provider, it made sense to go with Xbox Music. Now, with the Xbox One in my living room, it is all starting to sing. Three devices, one account (three if you include Adobe and my ISP/telco) and pretty much all of my home and business life is nearly seamless.

    Is it really any wonder that Microsoft wanted to push an always-on media hub into the home?

    Call me a fanboy if you like (personally I think I'm just a satisfied customer) but I feel like the rest of you are missing out on some real good things going on over here.

  • GunganGungan Registered User regular
    edited December 2013

    That's fine if you like that sort of thing, but I (and others) do not allow myself to become so entirely reliant one a single company's products and/or services. It's the main reason broke up my internet/cable/phone bundle, and despite that still saving/getting more for my money in the process.

    It's the same thing Apple does when creating their ecosystem of devices. I didn't jump on their bandwagon, and I'm not going to jump onto MS's either. Sticking with one provider also makes you complacent, and you stop noticing that competitors may be providing better value than the guys you're with, and then you're stuck because you're in their ecosystem. God forbid you are suddenly mistreated or no longer like the product or service because the only way out will be to pay out the nose to escape them (by replacing your stuff with new stuff).

    I got a Surface Pro too because I don't want and never will want a tablet with a mobile OS on it, but this thing is a great little mobile hybrid PC that I can actually use like a PC. That being said there is no way that I'm going to get a Windows Phone in the next 6 years, but if I ever do, it won't be because I happen to own a Surface device, rather on the merit of the phone itself. Same goes for the Xbone: Owning other MS devices doesn't even register when I'm choosing a console.

    As for the services offered by the Xbox brand, I don't use cloud storage of any kind, I'd never use Xbox Music or Xbox Video (same goes for Sony). These are literally the last places I would look for movies and music; they are non-features to me. I know nobody in my circle of friends and family that even care that these services exist, and they can't be the only ones. Shrug.

    Gungan on
  • SiddownSiddown Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    dbrowdy wrote:
    Sony could use the money from selling our information... sorry, I mean "making it public"... they're in terrible shape financially. That's really all that it could take in my mind. A little bump to the bottom line, maybe some targetted fear-mongering... err I mean marketing...

    You're still not looking at this logically. Facebook had about 4 billion in revenue last year, Sony had 52 billion. Facebook has about 1/2 billion "accounts" worth of data, Sony probably has about 50 million.

    Google generates about the same revenue as Sony, but to get that much ad revenue they have a completely different business model.

    So yes, Sony could try and sell our personal information but that has nothing to do with letting random 12 year old gamers seeing your name while playing CoD Ghosts. They already have your personal information. But really, how much revenue could they make from selling it? Say they could get $2 per user, is $100 million, or let's up it and say $200 million worth completely alienating your customer base? That 200 million isn't even 5% of their yearly revenue.

    While we might disagree with it. all the other examples you provide it makes sense for them to invade privacy, whether it be for revenue (Google, Facebook) or for power (NSA, TSA), Sony doing so only hurts them in the long run even if they could get a short term gain out of it.

    Siddown on
  • dbrowdydbrowdy Registered User regular
    @SIDDOWN: Again, I'm not saying I think it makes much sense either. I'm just giving a plausible example of a business case for doing so.

    I know it's been a while since I did an analysis on their books, but last I looked, their bottom line (revenue less expenses, etc etc) was not even CLOSE to the revenue number. They were pulling in 10x the revenue of Nintendo and had the same net profits. That's terrible. A few hundred million dollars of straight profit goes a long way.

    " $100 million, or let's up it and say $200 million worth completely alienating your customer base?" With the right marketing spin, you don't have to alienate your customer base... which was something I mentioned in my last post.

    Like I said, I am with you in that I think it's a bad business decision. But I can think of a viable way it could work so that this isn't just a "tin foil hat conspiracy". Which is why it's important to have these conversations.

  • SiddownSiddown Registered User regular

    Sony has been steadily recovering since 2011 when they were losing a bunch of money. This year they've been profitable, the last number I have seen is they made 48 million in Q2 2013.

    Not sure why they'd sell personal data now if they didn't in 2011 when they had losses in the billions per quarter...or maybe they did and faked the, that'd be just too nutty. :)

    I get what you are saying, although I think you are really stretching it to us the term "plausible" in that case since it goes directly against their self interest to do it, whereas it's directly in Google's and Facebook to try and erode privacy.

    But back to the original point of all of this, this has nothing to do with them setting up a Real ID type system for users of PSN. Sony already has your personal info (plus what games you like, what ISP you use, what hours you play, etc.), the fact that I see "Steve Johnson" instead of "xXxBigS3xy" in my friends list if both of us agree to it doesn't change that.

  • InfamousDSInfamousDS Registered User regular
    I never said that 100% of apps ran at once. Android (I make mobile apps for it) explicitly tells you to account for your data being wiped, but it also takes a save state of the app so it can run when you get back to it. iOS does the same thing, I have to maintain my family member's iProducts despite refusing to own them myself. One of the most recurring problems is that their device slows to a crawl, and I have to go in and manually close the apps (which fixes it).
    Yeah it restarts the app in both if its been a while since you've used it, but the definition of "a while" is just as vague as it sounds. I've seen apps keep their "on state" despite power cycles, and I've seen others close as soon as it is minimized by returning to the home screen.

    But the fact is they still use resources even in off states. And it doesn't change the basic crux of the argument that "more apps = less resources". A single game state that is ready to go, even minimized, uses up quite a few resources. FF14, the game I used in my argument, goes from a 60% RAM and 35% CPU usage to 15%RAM and 5%CPU state after minimizing. The games on X1 have half as much RAM/CPU to work with as my machine, and they have to compensate for the addition of an Apps OS and a Bridge OS to go with the Games OS. Each OS must reserve a certain amount of resources for itself to prevent system crashes in case of application overload, so by default the X1 is crippled when it comes to games processing. And that isn't counting the tablet chip with integrated graphics, which must share resources with the entire system since graphical processing isn't independent of system processing.

    I've studied OS design and implementation, and I've programmed and maintained for mobile and desktop for 3 years. The way they avoid system overload is to delete active apps and create save states, but at some point save states can overwhelm the system if you try to run several apps at once. Unless running a game automagically stops all processes, deletes all save states, and then somehow recovers them after they are gone, there isn't any way multitasking doesn't effect games.
    I also said that software wasn't there yet for either, but working with X1 as a baseline will make multiplatform titles less able to perform on PS4 to their full potential without going in and making specific changes to the way it runs and plays. Right now we don't have anything making full use of the systems, in 5 years the games-specific machine will be superior while the all-in-one (who has already had performance issues in some comparisons) will still be "just slightly better than last-gen". Sony's move might be niche to you, but graphics-lovers will start going PS4 or PC and the best thing Microsoft will have will be exclusives.

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