Follow TV Tropes

Following

Useful Notes / Xbox

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/1200px_xbox_console_set.png
Xbox HEUG.note 
Advertisement:

During The '90s, Microsoft invested heavily in gaming on the PC, introducing the DirectX Application Programming Interface that finally prompted PC game developers to move from DOS to Microsoft Windows, and even published and developed numerous games themselves such as their Age of Empires series. In spite of these efforts, which led to several acclaimed PC titles released during the decade, it was Sony Interactive Entertainment (then Sony Computer Entertainment) who became the runaway success of the gaming world during this time, with the original PlayStation selling over 100 million consoles worldwide, while overall sales of PC games declined. Microsoft decided that in order for their investments in gaming to truly pay off, they had to get involved with the console market. After dipping their toe in the water by helping Sega with the Dreamcastnote , Microsoft went on to release a console of their own in 2001, which they named the "Xbox"note . It competed primarily with the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube as part of the The Sixth Generation of Console Video Gamesnote .

Advertisement:

Online connectivity was the console's key feature. While the Dreamcast and Sony's PlayStation 2 had Internet-based multiplayer and online features as an option, Microsoft made it part of the console's core identity and charged for it. They also charged extra for the DVD remote/IR sensor kit which was required to play DVDs (a free feature on the PlayStation 2 if you didn't want the remote, though this is because of the DVD's licensing fees; the Nintendo GameCube and Dreamcast both lacked DVD playback due to their differing formats), and even with the kit could only play discs locked to the same region as the Xbox.

One of the reasons for Microsoft's rather aggressive use of Revenue-Enhancing Devices was because the system had very high manufacturing costs. While selling hardware for a loss isn't uncommon for video game consoles, the Xbox relied on an unusually large number of bespoke components bought from manufacturers at prices that were fixed by contract, so it was difficult to cut costs down the line. This meant Microsoft never actually made a profit on a single unit of the hardware itself — they lost $4 billion from it. However the system was the most powerful Sixth Generation console, and its architecture was ahead of its time as it was the first mainstreamnote  home console to be based on the now-industry standard x86 architecture; it used an Intel Coppermine (Celeron-derivative) CPU clocked at approximately 733 MHz, and an nVidia NV2A Graphics Processing Unit (closest to, but not quite, the GeForce 3/NV30), making it far superior to its rivals. In fact, the hardware was basically a mini-360: it supported DirectX 8.1, just a couple of steps behind DirectX 9c, the maximum the "HD" consoles support, as well as a hard drive for streaming data. While the graphics hardware often didn't get a chance to shine — the vast majority of sixth generation games were designed with the PlayStation 2 in mind, meaning that they didn't take advantage of the Xbox's (or for that matter, the GameCube's) more powerful hardware beyond having higher levels of anti-aliasing and texture filtering — the system's exclusives (aside from most of Sega's earlier exclusive titles, which were leftover Dreamcast games) really showed off what the Xbox could do.

Advertisement:

Though the console only sold a small fraction of the PS2's sales (with the console struggling in Europe and outright bombing in Japan, where to this day the Xbox brand still struggles), it gained what could be considered a cult following, as well as the respect of the general gaming community thanks to its groundbreaking influence on console gaming. Many of the features it pioneered becoming standard in the following console generation, most notably the PC-based x86 architecture, an internal, large-capacity hard drive, and a comprehensive, centralized online service (as well as getting console online gaming off the ground in general). Even its contemporary competitors began to take notice of the Xbox, such as the PS2, which launched without network support but introduced an Internet adapter for the original model (which also had plugs for a hard drive of its own) and built-in Ethernet for the slimline after the success of Xbox Live. The GameCube also had internet capabilities but they unfortunately went under-utilized; Nintendo wouldn't go all-in on internet until the Wii. The console's merging of console and PC hardware also extended to software, with many PC developers dipping their feet in the console waters by releasing Xbox ports of their games, a trend that would continue into the seventh generation as these previously-PC exclusive developers went completely Multi-Platform, and some console developers have even done the inverse. Today's overlap of the PC and console markets is unprecedented (for better or for worse), and is largely thanks to the original Xbox.

It was also known for introducing the world to Halo, best described as a First-Person Shooter with something of a Space Western flavor and now one of Microsoft's Cash Cow Franchises. The Xbox had many PC ports, being based on their DirectX Windows API (hence, it's a DirectX Box which was the working title for the unit that hit the big time), hence very easy to program for PC developers. It didn't succeed in dethroning the PS2, but it got Microsoft's foot in the door and outsold the GameCube by a few million units worldwide in the process.

The Xbox is also noted for having a poorly designed and implemented security system (part of where the money went on custom parts) that can be hacked in many different ways, allowing alternate uses of the console, which is basically a scaled-down PC in a black plastic case. In fact, in some instances this can be done using only a couple of modified files, and software can be installed on the system (such as specific builds of Linux, the excellent XBMC media player that is now known today as Kodi - yes, Xbox homebrew is Kodi's cradle - and the games themselves for much shorter load times). Upgrades can also be performed, such as fitting a larger hard drive to store more media. In fact, the uses devised by the fanbase far exceed those envisaged by Microsoft and have ensured an unusually long lifespan for the console. In true spoilsport form, Microsoft over-compensated for their mistakes and ensured its successors from the Xbox 360 onward were harder to turn into a home entertainment hub. The 360 was also noisier and less reliable as a result of the smaller form factor.

The console is also infamously Xbox Hueg, as you can tell from the picture above — the system weighs in at just below 4 kilograms (about 8.5 pounds), nearly twice the weight of a PS2 (and four times the weight of the slimline version), making it a nightmare to haul from one place to the next. The original "Duke" controller that launched with the system (not to be confused with any other Dukes), despite being designed by the same people who were responsible for Microsoft's highly successful Sidewinder brand of gamepads, was also infamous in its own right, being specifically designed for western gamers with bigger handsnote , and oft-criticized for its massive size and clumsiness of use. The controllers were eventually redesigned into a much slimmer form for the Japanese launch of the system, and the new controller, dubbed Controller S, eventually became the worldwide standard, phasing out the Duke for good (though the Duke has been remade into a modern controller for the Xbox One by its original creator, who bought the rights from Microsoft).

On April 15, 2010, LIVE service for the original Xbox (and original Xbox titles played on the 360) was discontinued. A great many fans, including Bungie themselves, took the 14th off to play their favorite Xbox games online one last time... but this service ended up Living on Borrowed Time well beyond the night itself, as it turned out the service wouldn't be shut off until every user who had connected before the 15th had disconnected, leaving one final matchmaking party of a few dedicated players keeping their Xboxes online playing Halo 2 until their consoles died from overuse. The final user was disconnected from the service on May 11, nearly a month after the service was scheduled to be deactivated.

The Xbox is in an odd position in terms of retrogaming appeal. The library of exclusives is generally seen as much weaker than its contemporaries, as Microsoft at the time didn't have much in the way of first-party games outside of Halo and relied heavily on third-party support. Many of its exclusives were also either PC cross-releases or found their way to PC later, where they are easily accessible for cheap due to digital distribution and can often be played on standard desktops with little issue thanks to their age. The two Halo games for the system in particular have seen multiple re-releases that outshine the originals while still supporting the games' online multiplayer. However, the Xbox does enjoy some popularity among fans of the sixth generation of games as a whole. Since it was the most powerful console of the generation with the widest range of resolutions, multiplatform games often ran and looked the best on the system. Games that only ran at 480i/576i on the PS2 and GameCube could often support 480p on the Xbox, while a small selection are capable of 720p or 1080i.

Technical Specifications:

Processors

  • CPU: Custom 32-bit Intel Pentium III based processor codenamed "Coppermine" running at 733MHz. The ISA (Instruction Set Architecture) is different from the standard Pentium III CPUs of the era with new instructions tailored specifically for the Xbox. Users can swap the CPU for a faster, off the shelf Pentium III but at the cost of Xbox game compatibility due to the missing ISA extensions. Coppermine does still come equipped with SSE and MMX SIMD support.
    • 14 stage pipeline with out of order execution and speculative prediction support.
    • Coppermine comes equipped with 32 KB of L1 cache and 128 KB of L2 cache. The L2 cache is modified with 2 enhancements dubbed "Advanced Transfer Core" and "Advanced System Buffering" to help reduce congestion on the front side bus towards the Memory Controller.
  • GPU: Custom NVIDIA NV2A running at 233MHz and acting as the Northbridge for the system. When released, it was thought to be based on the upcoming GeForce 3 video card, but its specs peg it more in line with the GeForce 4.
  • Audio & I/O Processor: Custom NVIDIA MCPX that acts as the Southbridge for the system, which offered 64 surround sound channels or 256 stereo channels. It even offered HRTF support for headphone mixing.

Memory

  • 64 MB of SDRAM running at 200MHz in a 128-bit configuration, offering 6.4 GB/s
  • 1 MB of flash-based memory. Later reduced to 256 KB in the 1.2 revision of the console. This was used to store the BIOS and security keys for the Dashboard.
  • 2x-5x DVD-ROM/CD-ROM drive. It can play audio CDs, but DVD movies required an add-on plugged into one of the controller ports. note 
  • 8 or 10 GB hard drive depending on the console revision. Once modified the system can take IDE or SATA hard drives with an adapter up to 1 TB in size.
  • 8 MB (or 500 "block") "Memory Units" can be used to transfer saves, though some saves were tied to the console and thus could not be transferred. These plug into the controller much like the Dreamcast's "Visual Memory Units" (they're even named similarly), although according to Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley this was purely an accidental coincidence. There were also unofficial Memory Units produced with higher capacities, and one Redditor was even able to make a 4 GB Memory Unit out of what appeared to be a USB flash drive.

Graphics

  • Can output 480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 720p, and 1080i
  • 4 pixel pipelines with 2 vertex texture units for each.
    • The Vertex Units are freely programmable using a primitive GPGPU microcode. The Xbox was the first console to support programmable shaders which would become standard in future consoles.
  • Pixel fillrate is 932 megapixels/s and geometry performance is 29.125 million per second.
  • 4 pixels per pass with texture compression, Z-buffering, alpha blending, fog and texture map support.
  • Multisampling support using a Raster Output Processor

Add-ons and Expansions

  • AV outputs to composite, S-Video, component, and SCART.
  • 1 TOS-LINK optical output (via an adapter)note 
  • Integrated 10/100 Ethernet
  • Support for 4 controllers, using a proprietary USB plug.
  • DVD playback kit, consisting of an IR receiver plugged into a controller port, and a remote (manufactured by Thomson, hence its similarities to RCA, GE and ProScan remotes of the era, even sharing codes for universal remotes; remotes intended for those brands of DVD players will work on the Xbox, and vice-versa)


Games and series on the original Xbox that currently have their own page:


 
Feedback

Video Example(s):

Top

The XBox

After flirting around with the likes of Nintendo and Sega, Microsoft finally threw its hat into the Console Wars on November 15, 2001, paving way to a new generation of video games.

How well does it match the trope?

4.5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / DawnOfAnEra

Media sources:

Report