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rumor

Well, the javascript that makes the countdown on ilovebees.com, since it's based on the user's local time, has already reached zero for us here in the Rampancy Cave.

Nothing else much seems to have happened. We'll let everybody know if our powerbooks start leaking honey or Covies break in looking for AI constructs.

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Alex Cross says in his HBO forum post that he's seen copies of the Official Xbox Magazine that's just hitting shelves now, the one officially coming out on August 24 that Frankie mentioned in his ILB/Halo 2 demo denial, and although it's got a nice spread on Halo 2, he says there's nothing in the way of new information; just recaps of what has been revealed at E3 and since.

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Hellface has posted in the Gearbox Forum something that appears to be about the Halo Editing Kit. We're not really sure... but the thrust of it seems to be that there may (or may not) be something good going on, but if there is, and they aren't SURE it's going on, they aren't going to tell us. The moderators might (or might not) know about it, but if they do, they can't tell anyone, and if they do, they're in trouble.

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CENOBITE posted in the HBO forum that the new edition of Game Informer magazine is advertising that they've got some "exclusive" new Halo 2 multiplayer screenshots and content. I've seen some really low-quality digicam pics of some pages, and they look legitimate, although some of the information CENOBITE cites as being in the magazine sounds a bit specious. As per usual practice, though, we're not going to post them ourselves or link to them until after the edition is off the newsstands.

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As part of the all-new, uncut, extended and extruded History of Bungie on the new Bungie.net, the page on Halo 2 has this to say on Steve Ballmer's mention of Halo 3 last fall:

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Slashdot has a story on the Xbox emulator, CXBX, which is now apparently able to run at least one commercial Xbox title; in this case, Turok Evolution. The CXBX site has screenshots and AVIs of it in action.

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People still aren't sure whether or not the Xbox 2 will have a hard drive or not, or whether or not it's a good or bad thing if it does... or doesn't.

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IDG news service reports are saying today that Microsoft has chosen Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company to make system-on-chip components for the Xbox 2. 90 or 65 nanometer processes are both possibilities, and the story at 1Up Xbox also speculates about a hardware announcement at E3 this May.

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Microsoft has recently promoting XNA as the underpinnings of their next-generation Xbox, while keeping whatever hardware prototypes exist behind closed doors. The demos shown at GDC ran on PC hardware connected to Xbox S controllers, and the development kits supposedly seeded to developers are Apple Macintosh G5s.

But is the focus on the Xbox 2, which no one has yet seen and has as of yet no official release date, consuming resources for games that were supposed to be released for the first iteration of the box?

Oddworld figured heavily into Microsoft's launch plans. It was one of the only other games available near the time of the console's launch, and a demo of it is on the original Halo discs. Yet now Oddworld Inhabitants and their new game, Stranger, has been dropped by Microsoft and is in search of a publisher. The XSN sports games, an ambitious attempt by Microsoft to compete against Sega and EA in the arena of sports games, is going to take the 2004-2005 season off, leaving gamers to wonder if those games won't return until the next generation Xbox is out. Psychonauts, according to GameSpot, was also dropped by Microsoft.

Both Psychonauts and Stranger are still expected to be released for the Xbox, possibly as exclusives, and Microsoft is reportedly supporting their developers in the search for a publisher. But choosing not to publish these titles themselves seems to say something-- either about the confidence of Microsoft in those games, or in the willingness to spend cash bringing games to a platform that may be in its last year.

So, is anything going on here? Is this the normal ebb and flow in relationships between hardware manufacturers, first party developers and third party developers? Or is this indicative of the fact that the Xbox's life as a viable development platform is ending, even in the eyes of its manufacturer? This November the Xbox will celebrate its third birthday, a ripe old age for a gaming console.

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Previously all we've had were PPC releases of development tools and some demo movies that actually ran on PC hardware rather than bona fide next generation Xbox hardware. At the Game Developers Convention, Microsoft was mum on the subject.

XboxSolution is reporting now that sources say MS will reveal the new box this summer, probably at the X04 event rather than at E3.

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This time, no less a source than the Wall Street Journal is being cited in association with the story that Microsoft's Xbox gaming console will drop in price to $149, and a bundle with Halo will be $169.

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Steve Ballmer, never one to pass up the chance to shoot his mouth off, apparently spilled the beans on Halo 3 all the way back last fall at the Microsoft Office 2003 launch. It went unnoticed until Richard Watkins found it and told Louis Wu at HBO.

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vshields ash pointed out in the HBO forum an article from SPOnG.com that says that Microsoft's XBL servers have begun querying consoles for information about their hard drives.

So far, the article says, no one with a modified hard drive has been denied access, but they speculate that this could be the start of searching hard drives for modified versions of system or game files, such as Halo's cached .map files.

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In response to Aginor's question in the HBO forum about a possible Bungie Fan Fest at E3 this year, Miguel "Freewill" Chavez replies that regardless of whether or not Bungie can swing an official event, it's likely that a large number of Bungiefen will be there and do... something.

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The Inquirer is reporting that the SDK for Microsoft's next generation Xbox is being released to developers. And it's running on a Mac.

Several years after being purchased by Microsoft and becoming a studio that developed games for MS' largely PC and Windows-based technology underpinning the Xbox, could Bungie be coming full circle, soon to be working primarily on Macs while they develop games for the PowerPC-based Xbox 2?

Only the Shadow knows.

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