Last week, Kotaku reported on a new project, called Insignia, "that aims to recreate the original Xbox Live service, potentially restoring online play to many dozens of classic Xbox games that fell offline when the original Xbox Live service closed on April 15, 2010." From the report: The project's announcement on the r/originalxbox subreddit came from SoullessSentinel, a screen name of one Luke Usher. Usher is well known in the vintage Xbox community as the lead developer of Cxbx-Reloaded, arguably the most advanced PC-based emulator of the 2001 Xbox hardware. (Microsoft's classic console has proven notoriously tricky to emulate over the years.)
As a demonstration of Insignia's progress, Usher shared a video depicting the creation of a new Xbox Live account via the Xbox's system UI. It's a cool trick, as this process has not been technically possible since the online service's April 2010 closure. (In a cheeky touch, the video names the newly created account HiroProtagonist, the Gamertag of Xbox co-creator J Allard.) Insignia will work with normal, unmodded consoles, provided the user can perform a one-time process to retrieve their unit's internal encryption keys. Long-existing Xbox soft-mod techniques, which require physical copies of exploitable games like Splinter Cell or MechAssault but do not necessarily alter the console's hardware or operating system, should suffice for accomplishing this key retrieval. Once that initial setup's completed, Usher envisions a more or less vanilla Xbox Live experience, complete with matchmaking, voice chat, messaging, and almost everything else you might remember. (One exception would come in a lack of proprietary game DLC, which Insignia and its developers lack rights to distribute.) Anti-cheating measures are also in the works, as well as reporting and banning mechanisms for truly bad actors. The project works by using a DNS man-in-the-middle maneuver to redirect all of Xbox Live's original server calls to new addresses that point to Insignia's work-in-progress infrastructure.
"The current plan is for Insignia to be a centralized service run by Usher and associates," reports Kotaku. "He believes keeping it centralized will prevent player populations from diluting across multiple third-party servers, and that it will not be much of a resource burden." "The server," he noted, "is used for authentication, matchmaking, storing friends lists, etc. but actual game traffic is usually P2P between Xboxes, so the requirements for our server are pretty low."
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