Tag Archives: xbox

The TRON Story

 

We start our story how all good stories should start; with deception, greed, lies and the underlining sense that the person on the other end of a phone call has no clue what they are in for.  Before I started college, I worked as Technical Support for the Xbox360.  Maybe you’ve heard of it?  I was the guy you would call if you had issues with online connectivity, billing, hardware malfunction, etc.  I would fix it as best I could over the phone. There was something else that I got on the phones sometimes, “Phishers”.  A Phisher, as defined by FreeDictionary.com, is someone who requests confidential information over the Internet under false pretenses in order to fraudulently obtain credit card numbers, passwords, or other personal data.  These people who call in trying to get me to slip up and tell them the smallest amount of information they could use to later call back and get access to the account with.  This is a story of one of those incidences my friends and I have labeled “The TRON story”.

In case some people don’t know, TRON is a cult classic from 1982 featuring some of the first instances of computer-generated imagery, also known as “CGI”.  The movie, about a computer programmer/hacker accidently gets himself stuck in a computer world called “The Grid” and he’s forced to play gladiator like games in order to continue living, was critically panned and a box office failure, but like other stinky cheeses, aged well and picked up a strong cult following that allowed it a sequel called Tron: Legacy set for release in late 2010, which is where this story officially begins.

My phone beeps, indicating I am about to receive a call from some I’ve likely never talked to before, and will never talk to again.  The automated voice announces the category of the customer’s problem before I actually start talking with them.  *BEEP* “Xbox Live—Billing” *BEEP* the cold, synthetic woman’s voice announces.  I begin my greeting: “Thank you for calling Xbox Customer Support, my name is BJ, what can I do for you today.”  The voice on the other end of the line replies nervously: “Yeah, I need some help getting into my account; I think a friend changed the password, can you help?” I can tell he’s in his teens, possibly younger, because his voice doesn’t sound fully developed and he has no sense of ownership of the situation at hand. “Of course I can” I replied with confidence. “Can I get your Gamertag from you and I’ll be happy to assist!” His response will echo in my mind for eternity. “Yeah, it’s TRON.”  The instant that word left his side of the phone and entered my headset I knew there was something going on here, but to be professional I continue. “OK, can I get the name on the account?” His response to that question affirmed my conclusion that something was awry.  “Oh, I think my friend changed everything when he took my account and my phone’s battery is about to die, if you can just give me a Reference Number so I don’t have to go through all this when I call back that would be great because I have to go!” I physically dropped my head in embarrassment at what this kid was trying to attempt.  A week before the release of Tron: Legacy and he’s trying to steal TRON from me, from ME!  I made this personal.  “Absolutely,” I happily respond, “do you mind if I place you on hold for a moment while I look over the information and generate your reference number?” He begrudgingly agreed, reminding me about his phone.  I press hold, almost unable to contain my laughter as I waved for my cube mates to come listen what I am about to drop on them.  “Guys, this guy is trying to phish the TRON account.”  All stare at me in wonder at his level of incompetence.  “You’re kidding right?  How do you know he doesn’t ACTUALLY own it?”  I open the account on the screen to find it’s connected to one of the developers of the first Xbox7 console from 2001.  The account actually pre-dates that systems release, impossible for anyone but its creators.  At that point, we all agree that this is obviously not that person.  We also agree that we can’t simply give him the typical rehearsed line about “Being unable to assist further” and disconnecting the call.  For his actions, he must pay.  At this point, the “customer” is on hold for about 8minutes.  Over the hold time we are graded on, but this is the first of many he will be placed in. “Thank you so much for holding and I apologize for the time that took, before we continue, can I get that account one more time, I seem to have lost it.” I ask sheepishly.  “Yeah, it’s TRON… Tee, Are, Owe, En, and please hurry, I think the friend that took my account is coming through the door so if I can just get that reference number that would be great.” He replies, noting once again that he wants a Reference Number. “Ooooh, Tee are OWE En.. I put in Tee are ZERO en. That’s probably why I wasn’t getting the account again.  You’re very lucky getting that Gamertag, I would have assumed it was taken long ago!” I state, in full knowing as to when it was first used.  His response drives home the fact that he is not the owner of the account.  “Oh, yeah I got lucky… I just started the account a couple years ago and it wasn’t taken.”  I think to myself: “a couple plus a few more, before the original Xbox was even released to the public?” I let him know that I need to reboot the system because I am still not able to get into the account and ask if I can place him on hold one more time.  Again, he states his phone is about to die, his friend is coming through the door and to hurry so he can have that reference number.  I place him on hold and chuckle.  “Ok guys, what do I do with this guy, seriously.”  A cube mate, Ben, decides it’s his turn to talk to him.  Something we are never supposed to do,  but with the circumstances how they are, I let him get on the line.  “Thank you so much for holding, so, got the system all back online and ready for that account again, what was the name.” Ben spills out with confidences and purpose.  “Uh huh, ok… and can I get your name?” He asks with a slight amount of a patronizing tone. “Ooh that’s right, your friend changed it.  Well, that is against the T.O.U. so here is what needs to happen.  He need to lock this account, we are going to do a full investigation into how he was able to obtain it and we will be contacting the original owner, presumably you…right?.. Right! Contacting you with our findings.  This will require a Supervisor though, let me get him on the line. Please hold”  Ben places him on hold and hands back the headset.  Holding back tears of laughter, I wait for him to disconnect.  Any normal person trying to steal something would hear Supervisor, investigation, account lock and assume they’ve been had, right?  6 minutes rolls passed, then 8, then 10.  He isn’t going to hang up.  I get back on the line with him to finally let him go. “Thank you for holding I—“ he interrupts with “This is really bad customer service, I’m just trying to get my account back and have been on hold a lot.. I don’t want you guys to lock it ok, I’ll just talk to my friend, I mean, you don’t have to go through all that ok?.. just, give me a reference number that is attached to that account and I’ll call again later.”  There it was again, wanting that number, I knew what he was going to do with it and I wasn’t going to allow that.  “Ok sir, have a pen ready?”  I quickly close the account and open a window that contains no account.  I enter notes at the bottom of the reference to let the next customer agent he talks to what his true intentions are.  I write “This person is not the original owner of this account, he asked repeatedly for a reference number to the TRON account of which he would not even attempt to verify ownership of, the only bit of information he gave me was completely wrong and set in stone.  He is phishing.”  I thank the customer for waiting and give him this reference number.  He again asks “Now, this number is connected to the TRON account, right?”  “Of course it is, sir.” I respond with a heavy hint of sarcasm.  He disconnects finally, thanking me for the number.  I log off of my phone and go home, 15 minutes past my shift, but well worth the overtime.

Xbox 360 Successor Rumored To go tablet route.

There have been a lot of rumors swirling around Microsoft and its plans for the next generation of console gaming so far this year. The latest comes from the print magazine Xbox World in a report that doesn’t attribute its details to any sources, anonymous or otherwise.

The next Microsoft console is described as a “matte-black media hub with… augmented reality, direction sound and a four-player finger-tracking Kinect.” It will also supposedly use a tablet-like controller that consists of “an HD screen surrounded by the traditional Xbox 360 buttons and sticks.” This contraption will supposedly make its first appearance at E3 in June.

I continue to have serious doubts about any and all rumors relating to the next generation of console, though it certainly behooves Microsoft to enter into the portable realm. The company has long resisted following Nintendo’s and Sony’s lead on releasing some kind of handheld gaming device, but it has now reached a point where Microsoft risks being left behind if it doesn’t follow suit.

Just look at what happened with Nintendo’s Wii. It hit the market without any HD output, reduced graphics processing capabilities compared to its competitors and an unwieldy, user-unfriendly interface for online gaming. Had it not been for the wider world’s embrace of the console’s unique motion control features, Nintendo would have had a disaster on its hands. It’s no surprise at all that the Wii U is the first console announced for the next generation; Nintendo has some catching up to do.

Sony’s PlayStation Vita arrives now at a perfect time. It’s easy to look at the less-than-stellar launch so far — something I think is more due to the marketing than the actual technology — and see nothing but doom ahead. Really though, the Vita has the potential to keep the PS3 competitive with the new bells and whistles that the Wii U provides. When you get right down to it, Sony’s new handheld is very similar to the Wii U’s tablet controller: you’ve got most of the functions that you would need on a standard controller PLUS an HD touchscreen. The potential is there for the PS3/Vita combo to play the same games that a Wii U will be able to.

So Nintendo is committed now to the Wii U, whether or not the planned fall 2012 release becomes a reality. Sony is similarly committed to the Vita, and likely won’t be announcing a new console until next year, at the earliest. All of this leaves Microsoft in a potentially advantageous position, if it plays its cards right.

Xbox Live has the community in place, and the features necessary to keep that community tight and loyal. Microsoft’s robust set of exclusives are also complemented by some strong third-party relationships. The increasingly obvious absence in the Xbox catalog is a portable solution. windowsPhone 7 doesn’t cut it. Microsoft is going to need a dedicated portable gaming solution to compete on all fronts in the next generation.

And now we’re back to the Xbox World report. I’ll continue to doubt all of these rumors that pop up until they’re confirmed as fact, but I also don’t think it’s a stretch at this point to assume that Microsoft has some kind of touchscreen-enabled control interface that could potentially double as a portable device in the works. Especially since the upcoming Windows 8 OS is meant to integrate Microsoft products across all platforms. We’re living in an increasingly tablet-oriented world, and it’s a safe bet that MS realizes it. That gaping hole in its product catalog will almost certainly be filled soon, and I’d frankly be shocked if that tech wasn’t a fully integrated member of the Xbox family.

Crysis for 360 Quick Review

 

The original Crysis was less of a game and more of a demented stress test for your computer. If you were able to run it at very high settings, you must have had some futuristic light-speed hive-mind computer from Mars. At the time, people wondered if Crysis could be played on current generation consoles at all, because it seemed they were all far too weak to even run the game on low settings. In fact, there was so much hype over how taxing the game was, few actually paid attention to its gameplay, which is a shame because Crysis was actually pretty fun. As a result, Crysis went silently into the annals of video game history as a cult classic hit. Then, of course, Crysis 2 came out on consoles and did fairly well for itself. So it’s only natural that the first Crysis would see a re-release, though we didn’t expect it to show up on current-gen consoles. Somehow Crytek has managed to squeeze all of the original game onto the Xbox and PS3. Still, the question remains: does Crysis hold up when put on consoles?

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Left4Dead2 Aussie Controversy

image1360875395.jpgIn case you missed it. Left 4 Dead 2 was released earlier this week. I won’t blame you if you did miss it since Modern Warfare 2 dominated everything in it’s wake.

With this sequel came lots of new weapons, new lead characters, levels. And several new uncommon and special zombies. In addition to all this. The sequel brought a bump in the gore factor! At least in America…

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No More Heroes 2 headed to PS3 and 360

image401417022.jpgThe critically acclaimed, but commercial flop “No More Heroes” apparently got just enough sales to warrant a sequel. The sequel will be a Wii exclusive still. But the original game will be headed to the 360 and PS3 around the same time the sequel drips next year. So far. It’s only slated for Japan. The port will have a few new features. One, advanced difficulty, another is sluttier girls (no. Seriously) and. I’m just assuming, but. Better graphics? Higher resolutions? Guess we’ll see huh?