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TrueSkill matchmaking demystified [update 1]

With all the hoopla surrounding Gears of War's matchmaking system we've been led to believe that come Emergence Day we won't get to play ranked games with our friends on Xbox Live. Well, that's only partially true. The smart folks over at Microsoft's Applied Games Group try to explain the TueSkill matchmaking system that Gears implements for ranked multiplayer sessions. They state that the TrueSkill system doesn't allow you to play ranked games against your friends due to the possibility of intentionally throwing a game to increase anther's rank. (That makes sense, keep going.) The other dark side of the coin is that the system doesn't allow you to "party up" with your friends either, due to them wanting to keep TrueSkill valid and completely random. (That kinda sucks, anything else?) The bright spot in all of this is that the TrueSkill system doesn't prevent you from playing alongside your friends, since you'll share the same outcome as them, but it's all up to chance of the TrueSkill system that you'll actually be paired with your buddy. Hopefully this clears up some of the mystery surrounding the matchmaking in Gears of War ... or maybe I just made you all the more confused.

Update: Ok, after analyzing this more thoroughly it looks like Gears of War's rank isn't based solely off of your win/lose ratio, but takes into account numerous individual stats. So, the TrueSkill ranking system looks at players individually and not as a team, hence why you can't party with a buddy in ranked games. Thanks BenzMoney for your insight, but the outcome is still the same no matter who you want to point your finger at ... you can't play ranked matches of Gears of War with your friends in one party. Also, I fixed that evil spelling error and I love how you're keeping the new guy on his toes!

[Via VGBlogger]

Bethesda sets its sights on the FPS genre

According to the latest issue of OXM (Via 360Monster), Bethesda is working on a new first person shooter with Zombie Studios. Entitled Rogue Warrior, Bethesda hopes to make a game that will compete with the likes of GRAW and Rainbow 6: Vegas. Gamers will recognize Zombie Studios as the developers of Shadow Ops. The article doesn't specify, but a quick search revealed a book about anti-terrorism with the same title, upon which the game may be based. Bethesda hopes to separate Rogue Warrior from similar games by spicing up the multiplayer options. One particularly interesting feature is the ability of each team to configure a map prior to a match. The maps are composed of three sections. Each team chooses an outer section, while the computer randomly decides the center section. The player chosen sections are kept secret from the opposing team. Thus, each team starts in familiar territory and must venture into unknown territory. It is Bethesda's hope that this will keep the experience fresh. Sounds like a pretty cool feature to us. What do you think?

Saints Row multiplayer troubles?

Ran across this comment on Major Nelson's blog:

Major, please say something about the broken multiplayer experience in Saint's Row. Nothing is working properly. The invites, gangs, and party lobbies are all not working. THQ says the game uses no servers for the lobby functionality, so that just leaves the XBOX Live servers to blame.

Anybody else having trouble? So far there aren't any complaints on various Saints Row fansites apart from the usual bitching about lag.

MS talks Live Anywhere achievments

Are you and your Xbox 360 itching frag your obnoxious PC-loving cousin and his competition weighted mouse? Microsoft UK Third-Party Account Manager Steven Blackburn told a Leipzig crowd that MS will lure you to the blood feud with special online-only achievements designed to hype the Live Anywhere service. Start talking smack now because the the first truly cross-platform title, Shadowrun, hits early next year with plenty more to follow.

[Via Xboxic]

There's no FU in UNO

UNO for XBLA may be a relaxed take on a classic family game, but more than one innocent tyke has discovered that kids on Live say the darndest things, especially if your gradeschool opponents are losing, or worse, winning. Mike from K1lla's Xbox Domain reports being called a "momma licker," "goat sh-t," "dog humper" and several other salty pejoratives that rhyme with woodchuck. Has Uno become as bad as Halo 2 when it comes to juvenile playground obscenities? What's the darndest thing you've ever yelled at an 11-year-old? Seen any obscene sign language on the Vision cam?

[Warning: Link not safe for tender ears or corporate filters]

[Thanks Joey]

FIFA and Pro Evo sock it to Sony

In a Zidane-style head butt to the World Cup dreams of PS3 fanboys across the globe, Microsoft announced that both FIFA 2007 and Pro Evolution Soccer 6 will be exclusive to the Xbox 360 for at least a year. Always eloquent Xbox Europe boss Chris Lewis said it best: "Xbox 360 owns football." This shut out probably won't shatter too many shins stateside, but it should provide an added edge in the football-crazed international market. GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL!

[Thanks Rogue Soul]

Go into the light with Army of Two screens

EA dropped some new screens from Army of Two, its co-op centric shooter. The screens show off some amazing detail and even a few gameplay dynamics like parachutes, vehicles, and assisting a wounded teammate. Is it just us, or does this picture look like a CPR minigame? Keep your buddy from going into the light maybe? Hating on EA is somewhat de rigueur around here, but this game actually looks pretty good, and more co-op is always a good thing. Anyone excited for it?

Live play for Mad Tracks after all

Our friends at Xboxic delivered some good news today. Mad Tracks, the wacky pull-back car racer, has been delayed. The reason why a delay is good news: Load is delaying the game so that Live Multiplayer can be added. Some of you may recall from our earlier post that Live play was not originally planned for the game. See, boys and girls, sometimes delays can be a good thing.

Does this news change anyone's mind about buying Mad Tracks?

Test Drive price: no bargain for Europe

We broke the story earlier this month that Test Drive Unlimited would be available for the low, low price of US $39.99. This led some of our UK readers to hope and pray that the European price would be a bargain as well. Sorry, lads (and ladies), Test Drive Unlimited will cost £49.99 ($92.95, yikes!). The reason: prevailing market conditions, which translates as "not enough 360 owners." Interestingly, another factor mentioned by Atari was America's "much bigger Xbox Live Gold membership," making it easier to recoup costs -- through micropayments and in-game ads, no doubt.

So much for affordable innovation for everyone.

Register for the BFME II Tourney quick!

Gamespot is holding a LOTR:BFME II tournament. The top three players will take home Best Buy gift cards worth $600, $300, and $100 for first, second, and third place respectively. If you think you're up to snuff (me, I'm still working on beating one Medium level opponent) you can register here starting today at 3PM Pacific.

Good luck registering, and more good luck if you make it in!

Crashing castles on Xbox Live Arcade

Behemoth has announced that they are bringing Alien Hominid and a new original title to Xbox Live Arcade. The new title, Castle Crashers, is sure to remind many of old school beat 'em ups like Golden Axe and Guardian Heroes. The game features lots of enemies, 4 player co-op, and some serious action. Bonus points to Behemoth for making the characters look like the Black Knight (who, as you know, always triumphs). After you watch the gameplay video above, be sure and check out the official trailer on Xboxyde.

I'm just going to abandon all journalistic objectivity here and say Castle Crashers looks like it's going to kick ass.

[Via Joystiq]

Lost Planet multi-player gets un-lost

In case you haven't heard, Capcom will debut Lost Planet's multi-player gameplay at the Leipzig Game Convention next month. A few lucky lost souls will get to play 4 on 4 matches showcasing one map and mode. Hey, since we got our hands on the single-player demo pretty early, they might as well throw this one on XBLM too.

Nice headset cheap. For a good cause too! reports that Plantronics is currently selling the special edition Halo 2 headset for a paltry $14.95 (USD). This headset normally sells for $49.95 so this is a great deal. To make the deal even better, $1.00 of every purchase will be donated to the Plantronics GameCom United Way Katrina Recovery Fund.

Couple the Halo 2 headset with the $8.00 headset adapter from Datel and you've got a steal. It looks like a limited time offer, though. So, go buy one and do some good!

[Via HBO]

Double Agent website alive and sneaky

The official site for Splinter Cell: Double Agent is open for business (age validation required). The site is loaded with Splintery goodness like character bios, story info, features, multiplayer info, icons, wallpapers, screens, videos, and lots of flashy, um, Flash. I think you could safely call it a plethora of goodies. The game already impressed us at E3, and I'm sure Ken and I -- like wolves -- will scrabble at every bit until it's released. Like wolves, I say.

By the way, is it just me, or is Lambert starting to look a lot like Morgan Freeman?

[Via Xboxic]

PDZ Map Pack One perfectly available

Following a premature announcement that temporarily left Joanna fans in the dark, PDZ  Map Pack One is now perfectly available on XBLM for 500 MS Points. The new content includes four multiplayer maps: Plaza, Rooftops, Trench, and GasPlant.

Fanboys, you've had a day to download. Please zero in with your impressions of the new real estate. Was it worth the price?

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