For the past two weeks I have been beating my brain up trying to write a user guide for the XBOX 360. I had grandiose hopes of creating a guide that would provide an answer for any question about the console, A guide that would satisfy people contemplating buying the machine, people who just bought one and had no idea what to do next and those veteran gamers looking to squeeze the most out of their beloved XBOX. Well after three re-writes, the creation of about 12 new swear words, a massive head ache and a new mouse …. I have decided it would take me well over 2 months to write a decent guide that may answer most questions (but would ultimately be full of stuff no one would want to read). So instead I present this: 1) A list of things you need to join your fellow TOG members online 2) A list of useful links that I use to help me with my XBOX needs and 3) A thread where you ask the questions you need answering and the TOG community will endeavor to answer them. So here we go … Section one: What you need to play your fellow TOGers online with the XBOX 360. 1) An XBOX 360 (Well derrr … ) 2) Said XBOX 360 connected to the internet via a broadband connection (for information on who to connect your XBOX to the internet see bellow – XBOX Live the guide) Note: If you are using a wireless router you may need an XBOX wireless adapter. This is an expensive little device and there are ways around having to use one (discussed in the XBOX live guide link in section two) 3) A Gold XBOX live subscription. Unfortunately you do have to pay a subscription fee to play XBOX online. You can either do this through subscription online via credit card (1 month, 3 month or 12 month subscriptions available) or purchase a 3 month or 12 month live subscription card from a retailer. You can also get a 12months Live kit discussed below. 4) A copy of the game being played (Well derr … ) Ok, those are the things you “need”, but there are a couple of extra things you can get to help your gaming experience online. 1) A head set for voice communication. You have a couple of choices here. You can get a Microsoft corded headset that plugs into your controller with a 12 months Live retail kit (Contains a 12months subscription card and the headset), or a Microsoft wireless headset (sold separately). There are also numerous 3rd party headsets available of all shapes and sizes. 2) The XBOX 360 Keypad. This useful little devise plugs straight into your controller and makes text messaging online a breeze. It comes with a headset designed especially to plug into the keypad (so if you are going to get this straight up, don’t buy the 12 months live kit) I love this keypad as it has not only made texting easier; it is also a nice counter weight to the controller. I find it hard to use a controller without one now. 3) The XBOX live camera. This little pixel capturer not only allows you to hold video chat sessions with your friends, but also lets you create a custom gamer picture of your what ever you take a picture of. Some games utilize the camera in game play (e.g. Rayman Raving Rabids and Burnout Paradise), and some use it to create custom avatars for online play (e.g. Rainbow Six Vegas 2). I remember before the 360 launched, video communication on consoles was debated with possible "downsides" discussed. This cartoon by Penny Arcade had this to say on the matter: Thankfully to date this has never happened 4) A Hard Drive. Most XBOX’s come with a hard drive (except for the arcade bundle pack) and now thanks to the new update you can download your games from the games disk to the hard drive. Playing your games from the hard drive makes most games run faster (except for HALO 3 … for some reason this game runs slower?) but be aware that games can take up to 7GB+ in hard drive space. (So remember big is beautiful ) 5) Microsoft Points (Info in next section). Some games have downloadable content available for them from the XBOX live market place (Info also below). If your friends are playing a game online using that downloadable content (usually extra maps, game modes or items not found in the original game) you will need to download the content as well before you can join their games. Section two: Useful XBOX 360 links Orientation - Xbox 360 University - IGN Xbox 360 XBOX.com; Here you will not only get the latest XBOX news from Microsoft, but you will also be able to manage your account, send messages to people on your friends list and even make purchases from the XBOX Market place that will download the next time you switch your XBOX on. http://www.xbox.com The XBOX Live Market place; here you can find all the things you can buy online through your console. Be aware that you need to use Microsoft points (Xbox.com | Membership Levels - Silver Features: Get the Points) as the unit of currency to purchase. Xbox LIVE Marketplace | Marketplace - Marketplace on the Web Downloadable instruction manuals for all XBOX 360 products made by Microsoft. Index of Xbox 360 Instruction Manuals XBOX Live the guide; a great resource for all questions regarding hooking up your XBOX to the interwebs and has a wealth of information (including such useful info as hooking your XBOX wirelessly with out the official adaptor, how to get OS updates without hooking your XBOX to the internet and how to clear your HDD cache.) XBox Live The Guide : Help and advice plus Xbox games news, chat and more XBOX 360 Windows Media setup guide Xbox 360 Windows Media Center Setup Guide - Xbox MyGamerCard.net; This site allows you to create various cool .sig’s that you can use here on the TOG forum. Best of all its free! Your Xbox 360 GamerCard In MySpace, Forums, and More! -- MyGamerCard.net Here are just a few examples: XBOX 360 Achievement points; this site has an achievement list on almost all XBOX 360 games (even ones not quite released yet). Here you will find how many points each achievement is worth and even details about those pesky hidden achievements. Xbox360Achievements.org - Every Point Counts Section three: A thread where you ask the questions you need answering. Well … this is it, your in it now! The XBOX is a great console that does so much more than just play games. Did you know it can also play movies (DVD, WMV, and AVI), display photos and play music (CD, WMA and MP3)? You can store these files on your hard drive or stream them from a PC. Set up right the XBOX 360 can be the media center hub of your lounge room. (See the above Windows Media guide setup as a starting point) For anyone that has any questions regarding the XBOX 360 please post them here. Don’t be afraid to ask as we were all new at this once! I, and your fellow TOGers, will do our very best to find you the answer to your 360 dilemmas. For those of you that come across links with information regarding XBOX setup or XBOX features that you feel would help your fellow XBOX gamers, please post them here. The more information we share, the better gaming experience we will all get! Well I am off to get some aspirin and a new <insert new expletive here> mouse. See you online; Pure Mongrel.