Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Embrace Your Cloud
Microsoft recently released a slew of updates for the Xbox 360. Everything from the dashboard to all new content have been made available, helping to truly make the Xbox a well-rounded entertainment console. But you hardcore gamers need not fear, there is something very special just for you, the cloud.
The basics. Cloud storage or cloud computation is a phrase that references the ability to use software as a service, leaving very little responsibility to the end-user. That means files and information are stored and maintained somewhere other than your computer or device. You probably already use "cloud" technology and don't even realize it. Email, apps, Google docs, and even this blog could easily be considered cloud.
So how will this storage option benefit the Xbox crowd ? Game saves can now be stored on the cloud. Having your save out in the universe is super beneficial in multiple scenarios. Starting with the most obvious, but maybe not the most useful, game saves can be accessed from anywhere. I have multiple Xboxs at home and one at work. If I want to play somewhere other than my primary console, I don't have to lug around the entire Xbox or make backup files. My game content is saved and ready to go.
That frequently topless Honorary Achievo Kevin WK recently had some sad news when he realized that his Xbox had completely erased all of his data. The only things lost that he couldn't get back were game saves. He was almost completely done with Dead Island and all his progress was gone. With his attention span, there was no way he was going to start over from the beginning. The other significant loss was the finished games from Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. In the series, games can be imported into the next successive title. So the custom character and choices made in the game can be imported and influence how you will play Mass Effect 2. The same will happen when ME3 is released after the new year. Unfortunately, all of Kevin's game info is gone. I used his situation as a warning (and you should too), and back up important game saves to the cloud. If your Xbox bricks, your saves aren't lost forever.
There are restrictions to the cloud. Each account is granted just over 500MB of storage. It doesn't sound like much, but it is more than enough for dozens and dozens of save files. Most games only have one file and it gets replaced with each subsequent save. But some franchises, like Elder Scrolls or Fallout, frequently make new files every time you enter an area or create your own save. I already have hundreds of save files in Skyrim and each one is 8MB. So instead of assigning the bigger games to automatically save to the cloud (which would use up the 500+ MB in no time), I keep them on my local device and periodically transfer a copy. It might not be the most current version of my game, but it will definitely protect me from having to start over scratch.
The cloud saving is a huge advantage to the hardcore gamers, especially those rocking the giant RPGs. Do yourself a solid and take advantage of this amazing and free service.