Xbox One dev takes to Reddit to answer fan questions

DRM, Family Sharing, Kinect, hardware, and more discussed.

An anonymous Xbox One developer, confirmed legitimate by the Xbox One sub-reddit moderators, has taken to Reddit for an AMA (ask me anything) about Microsoft’s November-due next-gen console.

We’ve compiled the majority of the answers below. The developer discusses everything from DRM to Kinect to the price to the canned Family Plan and so on.


What was your reaction to the DRM reversal, and now this petition?

Personally I was a little surprised at the timeframe which we decided on the DRM reversal. I thought we didn’t push on its benefits enough.

The petition shows there are lots of people who want these benefits as much as I do and clearly our execs care or Marc Whitten wouldn’t have referred to it in his IGN interview.

Family Sharing

Would it be possible to bring back Family Sharing even if only for digitally downloaded games?

I believe Marc Whitten answers this in the IGN interview he gave. I sure hope we bring it back.

Was the Family Sharing how everyone imagined it to be like (sharing games with 10 people only 2 game play one at the same time) or was it glorified demos ?

It was for full games. Can’t comment too much on this but its purpose was to eliminate the need to ever have to physically hand someone a game that you bought to share with them.


Is Kinect capable of TrackIR features? I want to do a flying game and look around.

Looked up TrackIR briefly and it seems to be using an IR receiver and transmitter mounted on a headset.

The Kinect is capable of face tracking as shown in the Kinect demos we did for our internet media outlets. In addition to face tracking, we can determine the rotational position of your head so I have no doubt those features can be implemented.

What do you feel is the best feature of the Xbox One that people have little knowledge about?

The majority of the masses care only about the console, except that the success of the Kinect carries much more weight to us. The sensor costs almost as much as the console to make.

What is the goal for having a Kinect ship with the Xbox?

The goal with having a Kinect ship with every Xbox is to guarantee to game developers if they implement Kinect features into their games, everyone who has an Xbox will be able to experience it. I often see people dismiss the Kinect instantly because they haven’t seen it work like I have. It is an integral part of the Xbox One experience.

Couldn’t you include it in the box and not require it to be hooked up?

The number of features on the Xbox One that uses the Kinect is almost too many to count. I can’t imagine using the console without it. To me, I see two ways to deal with this.

1) Not require the Kinect to be always plugged in and have all these features turned off by default.

2) Enable these features by default and turn them off if people choose to turn off the Kinect.

The first choice would undermine our guarantee to game developers.


How long did it take for you to come up with the name?

We found out what it was called when Don Mattrick told us during the reveal.

How loud is the console?

Almost inaudible. I run three at a time and they are drowned out by the fans in the desktops.

Compared to the last one, how is the reliability of the console?

Can’t comment on this as it’s not my area of expertise. But if you compare the failure rates of the launch 360 with the current 360 S. It should give you an idea.

Do you know anything about the rumor that Microsoft is upping the clock speed on the retail version? If you can’t answer that, do you think that the Xbox One is at disadvantage with it’s current specs compared to the PS4?

Can’t comment on the rumor.

The facts are on paper, the PS4 has better specs and the most you can debate is by how much. What I can tell you is I have played Forza, Killer instinct, and Ryse on the Xbox One. They look as good as the games I play on a high end PC. Ryse reminded me of Darksiders II.

Is there anything you would change about the hardware if you could?

The specs of the hardware were determine by people a lot more knowledgeable than I am. I’m not one to question this. I’m sure they were tested and re-tested to find a balance in price vs performance based on our manufacturing capabilities.

Let’s cut to the chase. Were the yield rumors true? Are they still true? Is there any truth to the upgrade rumors?

Don’t know, no official word within the company.

A lot of this information, we don’t hear about it until they are announced to the public.

Do you know what the thought process is behind not shipping with a headset? I understand that Kinect will be the microphone for those who don’t buy the headset, but how come nobody thought that voice through speakers is a terrible idea?

This is one of those things they don’t tell us until everyone else knows. But I have heard a wired headset will be included.

How does DirectX 11.2 compare to OpenGL, and what advantages does it give you that OpenGL doesn’t do just as well/at all? The Xbox One architecture – how does it compare to earlier machines? Will it be easy to code and optimize for? Would we also see the best graphics on Xbox this generation as well? (Multiplatform)

I code apps for the Xbox One like I code for Win8 apps.


How smooth is the interface with snapping? Can you snap between digital games or not? Is the TV input lagging like it was in that Wired interview

Snapping is only available to certain apps such as IE, Skype, the game DVR upload tool, etc. Game titles cannot be snapped. I have not tried TV input but I did hook up a PC to the Xbox and watched Netflix while I Skyped someone.

When you say games can’t be snapped you mean you can’t have them be the smaller view right? You can have other apps next to the game but you can’t have IE with Killer Instinct as the smaller snap on the right?

Yes, AAA titles cannot be snapped (shown in smaller view). IE can however be snapped to look up how to perform a combination while you play.


What’s the atmosphere like in the office? When you come up with a new idea, how easy is it to pitch it to your boss or a team?

The team is huge, almost 1000 people. Most people in Microsoft have their own offices, it’s the way Microsoft have been since it started. For the Xbox team however, we have mostly large open spaces (thank Bungie for that), with the most senior people having their own offices. The average time employed at Microsoft to get your own office in the Xbox team is about 10 years. The division provides us free of charge a 24-hour snack bar, dinner every day, and breakfast and lunch on the weekends if we choose to come in. In addition to that the team provides additional sustenance and booze whenever we all get together and show off what we did in the past couple weeks. There’s no way I can throw in 60 hours/week for the long term if the environment was overly stressful.

Almost every subgroup within the team works on something that is related to the Kinect in some way. I personally come in contact with 4 or 5 different subgroups in a day.

What was everyone’s reaction at the office after the flaming outcry the day after E3?

It was quite moot. One of our execs had mentioned a Sony dev came up to him at E3 and told him you won the games, we won the gamers.

You obviously came here to share information. What was that information?

My purpose here is not to reveal technical information but to show you that us devs are consumers too. Some of the policies we too only heard the day of the reveal or at E3. We too, ponder about their pros and cons. I can tell you we have heated discussions on our policies all the time internally. Engineering practices have taught us there are always trade offs. We lay out all the benefits of different policies and figure out what we have to give up in order to obtain those benefits.

The positive comments we read make us happy. The negatives give us the impression that we are evil and the Xbox One might as well be the Troll box. I have confidence in our management that all their decisions are always well debated before they come to a plan of action.

Thanks, NeoGAF.

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