Interview with Xbox 360 Launch Team Member Hellfire360!

11 05 2007

I contacted Hellfire360 who was the development lead for the Xbox 360 HD DVD player and is currently the “Development Manager for Xbox Community, Commerce & Live Gaming” and he was nice enough to answer some interview questions for us. This interview is a great read with some good information. Here are his awesome answers!

Check out his Live Space to learn more about him!

 

Live360: What exactly does the development manager for Xbox community, commerce & live gaming do?

I manage the developers responsible for building out xbox live’s community, commerce and live gaming features. So stuff like the marketplace, instant messaging, gamer profiles, parental controls etc.

Live360: What first got you interested in gaming?

Atari 800 + star raiders when i was 4-5 years old. Been hooked ever since!

Live360: What was your experience like being part of the HD DVD team?

Pretty magical! it was like having teams of ethan hunts from Mission Impossible III, except they were all on fire and had lasers.

In software development, I think projects like hd dvd come together very rarely. What we did in the TINY amount of time, with so many different collaborators (we worked closely with about 5 other major teams at Microsoft, licensed a ton of new technology), with so many technical challenges…it was awe-inspiring to see it all come together and ship on time.

One of my guys wrote up a nice story about some of the technical challenges: http://blogs.msdn.com/xboxteam/archive/2006/11/03/emergence-day.aspx


Ultimately, we’ve sold more units than all standalone HD-DVD players put together, meaning we’re a big factor in the high-def format war. So while it’s sold less than any other product i’ve helped ship, I am most proud of this product and the teams that built and tested it.

Live360: How much time do you spend gaming a week?

15-30? I don’t count, I’d probably be depressed if i did. I cry a little inside when I see the 140 hours i’ve put into Oblivion…

Live360: Do you wish you more time for gaming?

Absolutely, there’re some games I really wanted to max achievements in, like Dead Rising, R6:V, Viva Pinata…we have almost too many great games on this system…

Live360: What was the biggest game you ever helped ship?

That would have to be the Resident Evil remake for Gamecube.

Live360: Can you tell us a little about it?

It’s Resident-freakin’-Evil! I was really happy to have been involved. I developed the movie codec that was used to render all the backgrounds in the game…that movie codec was also used in most other 1st party gamecube games, like Super Mario Sunshine. Which is a pity, because it wasn’t meant for general purpose use – it was designed for ultra high performance. It doesn’t compress nearly as well as MPEG2, and that’s why everyone thought early gamecube fmv looked like crap.

(Do a search on Gamecube and THP, which is what i called the movie format. protip: the “T” in “THP” is my initial and “H” is the initial of the guy that helped me optimize the IDCT.)

Live360: What is your favorite Xbox 360 game?

Depends on the day. These days, it’s Guitar Hero 2 (even had it on the ps2) and Forza 2. also love Rainbow Six:Vegas for its guns and cover system. Oblivion is up there as well…

Live360: What is your favorite Xbox live arcade game?

Right now, Catan. Never played it before, but i’m very impressed with the depth of adaptation and strategy needed.

Live360: Coolest Xbox 360 accessory?
I’m going to have to go with the HD-DVD drive 🙂

Live360: I would have to agree with that 🙂

Live360: Tell us a little bit about your setup.

60″ rear projection LCD, 7.1 setup built primarily out of M&K active monitors (the same speakers used to mix the newer Star Wars trilogy.)

Live360: When does the spring update come out? Haha just kidding.

Already out, that’s how long it took me to write up the answers to this 🙂 Admittedly I was distracted by Forza 2, sorry! but it’s Forza!

Live360: What is your favorite feature of Xbox live?

I think Live is more than the sum of its features, so I’ll pick a few that make up my fave experiences: ubiquitous voice chat, friends list, messaging, cross game invites. The new instant messenger integration is also very cool…

Did I just peg every major feature of live that the competition doesn’t have? Oops.

Live360: If you could add anything to Xbox live what would it be?

I’d like us to make Live much more inviting (and we’re working very hard on this). The common misconception of live is that its populated with foul mouthed teenagers. But as you probably know, once you find a crew to play with regularly, multiplayer is magical, co-op especially. I’d like everyone to experience that.

Live360: What is your favorite non gaming related gadget?

My Harmony 880 remote.

Live360: Do you have an Xbox 360 Elite?

No but i’ve been using HDMI devkits for a very long time now and use one at home to test our latest stuff.

Live360: Did you ever expect to be working on the Xbox 360?

Yup! I came to Microsoft specifically to help build it – I worked on the compiler (that’s the tool everyone uses to build code for the 360), voice chat, the DVD player, performance tools, and some launch games, amongst other things. Xbox 360 is very much the console i’ve always wanted to build.

Live360: What kind steps did you have to take to get where you are now in the gaming industry?

I lucked out at first. I was in grad school when someone at Nintendo spammed our research team alias looking for realtime operating system designers. Didn’t want a phd anyways. After that, it was just a ton of hard, but fun, work.

Live360: Thanks for taking the time to answer all these questions! Any last comments?

Good luck with the site! Let me know what you think of the spring flash update.

Live360: I am loving the spring update so far. IM feature is awesome!

– Darkhunter139

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3 responses

12 05 2007
Sam

Nice interview.

13 05 2007
Red 001

great Interview

14 05 2007
Alivor

Nice interview.

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