We're seeing reports this week about "Tsunami", a, er, wave of new features that should be, er, washing over Xbox Live in the coming months. According to the contents of a readme file for the Xbox Development Kit (XDK), a lot of the functionality that was being mooted ahead of last year's pre-E3 conference is now finally ready to deploy, including voicemail, clan features, MSN Messenger integration and user mod storage systems.
Although Live already lets you chat to somebody via headset while outside a game, the new "3.0" features will apparently allow you to leave up to 15 seconds' voicemail when sending or accepting game invitations and friends requests, and also contact gamers sitting at their PCs thanks to integrated MSN Messenger functions. We'd imagine this means another icon for the Friends list to indicate someone's MSN status.
The Tsunami features will also improve matters for clan types. A new structured clan system will allow players within a team to keep stats, challenge rivals, and migrate the arrangement to other games as and when they arrive thanks to something called Family Title ID. For example, if EA adopts this when it eventually forces the pride back down its throat and starts supporting Xbox Live, then you might be able to dive into any number of EA Sports titles with the same team set-up.
Another addition sure to come in handy is Title-Managed Online Storage (these development names don't really do the features justice), which is an online storage system (no!) that lets users share their custom content, like logos, team sheets, maps, characters etc (imagine the possibilities for The Sims, EA, come on!), and see it organised by title for other folks to download. TMOS also seems to include 32KB of private space for each user to store settings info and things like that.
Finally, Tsunami should introduce a proper competition structure, allowing developers to implement in-game prize tournaments more easily and then either administer them from a position of inscrutable power - or hand off the task to the game's burgeoning community.
We'll no doubt hear more about these Live features in the near future, and we'd imagine that, given the success of the more-than-750,000-user-strong online service, Microsoft has even more treats like this lined up for the rest of the year. For the moment, however, there's no fanfare or whopping great press release - just a lot of promise. We'll let you know when the Tsunami hits.