Having unwittingly blown the lid on Xbox Live through its own Official Magazine in the United Kingdom, a story since removed (albeit not by us), Microsoft is now talking openly about the service, and the best example of this so far is a GameSpy interview with product manager David Hufford. Xbox Live will provide online opposition 365 days a year, and access will be controlled by a single password, Hufford explains. Amongst the core features of every Xbox Live game will be instant messaging and voice communications (with voice masking). Furthermore, the Xbox Voice Commander product will actually plug into a memory card slot, saving players the torment of giving up a gameport. Apart from these standards, Microsoft also plans to ban cheaters as and when they are found out. The lobby system will allow players to switch games without severing the connection, Dreamcast style, and message people in and out of all the supported games. The system, currently in testing at Microsoft, will control all the niggling aspects of online gaming; subscription fees, server management, tools, interface standards and so forth, in the interests of putting online gaming within a developer's reach without substantial support costs. And if it has been worrying you, the service will not be based on The Zone. The service has been built from the ground up, if Hufford is to be believed, and currently has more people working on it than worked on the Xbox launch itself. Hufford tells us to pay close attention to E3, where he believes online gaming will take centre stage in each of the format holders' presentations, along with a number of big software announcements. Seamus Blackley is also expected to unveil his plans, which will almost certainly include Xbox. Hufford also admits that Microsoft is in discussion with big name companies about massively multiplayer games, and that there may be a few under wraps at Microsoft. Promising news indeed. Related Feature - Xbox Live details emerge
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