Greetings everyone! I left Microsoft last month after 18 years there. I worked in all manner of divisions at the company at all manner of levels. My most recent job was head of policy and enforcement for the Xbox LIVE service but I also worked in product support, computer code security, public relations, and more!

A couple of notes for this AMA. I am still under a confidentiality agreement. Where questions come up against that I will try to answer as best I can (Don't worry I'm not going to just say "sorry can't talk about that bye bye").

Second, I wrote a book about my time at Microsoft called "A Microsoft Life" which you can buy from my website or on Kindle. There's also an audio version of the book featuring my friends Wil Wheaton, Paul and Storm, Mike Phirman, Major Nelson, and many more which you can buy here and 2/3'rd's proceeds go to benefit Child's Play, and the audio book comes with a PDF of the full book:

http://stepto.bandcamp.com

PLEASE NOTE: This is the only time I'm going to mention the book or audio book sale links in this AMA. If your question is answered by the book, I will paste in as much of the book as I feel addresses your question instead of just being a dick and linking the book for you to buy. :>

Third, there is no third except that I refuse to answer any questions about Woody Harrelson's new movie. Sorry.

Vertification:

http://twitter.com/stepto

Ask me anything!

EDIT: 3pmPT Man this so far has been a blast. I've been at it now for over three hours. I have to take a break to attend an event downtown but I plan to be back at 8:30pm PT (roughly five hours from now) I'll tweet when I am back and in the mean time please leave questions, I am reading every one (sorry for those unanswered yet I am trying to prioritize the best ones and the subthreads) and I will answer those left when I return.

EDIT 2: 7pmPT I'm back early! Diving into unanswered questions.

EDIT 3: 8:30PMPT ok taking another break, will check back in one more time later tonight!

EDIT 4: 11:30PMPT ok done for the night. Will check back in the morning and make one final edit answering many of the repeated questions, but I'll do it here in the main post as a catch all. Thanks everyone it was fun.

EDIT 5: Final Edit, catch all questions:

"Are you The Pro? What do you think of him?"

The enforcement team uses many gamertags, some public, some private. One time while using the gamertag "The Pro" an individual on my team was taunted pretty mercilessly for a period of over a half hour before they snapped and said some regretful things. A video was cut to make it look like they snapped for no reason, and from there the myth of "The Pro" was born. The number of people who claim to have encountered that gamertag and their horrible unfair "banning for no reason" ways is truly staggering considering after the incident we retire that tag and others for a little while. I spoke to the employee in question when it happened and they certainly regretted their tone. Since then that gamertag has taken on mythic status as hundreds of people still ping me each month claiming to have been banned by them despite the fact it's not been used for enforcement in any way for years. Welcome to the Internet, where myths are born.

"What do you think of [Insert miscreant/hacker here]?"

I don't! Like I said in the thread, over my years at Xbox people come and go in terms of miscreants. It really serves no purpose to get too wrapped up in personalities or Internet chest thumping, or with anyone ill. There's always someone out there with free time, and now it's not something I have to concern myself with anyway. So I'll stick with my advice that whenever possible people try to be excellent to each other.

"How do I get a job at Xbox?"

There's no answer to that one. linked in one of the comments below is a podcast @thevowel and I did that describes the convoluted path we took to get into the games industry. Its probably the closest thing to an answer I have.

"Can you unban me?"

Nope. Couldn't even if I wanted to. :D

Again thanks everyone for all the questions. If you have any others email me at stepto at stepto.com.

Comments: 855 • Responses: 67  • Date: 

Mount_Bugatti714 karma

how many 13 year old kids have had sex with your mother?

Stepto-onreddit280 karma

I was afeared something like this would not be the top comment. Thank goodness for Reddit.

majornelson305 karma

When are we going to lunch?

thevowel179 karma

When are we going to the dog park?

Stepto-onreddit239 karma

SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY

thevowel136 karma

We can't go to the dog park on Sunday, we're playing paintball on Sunday.

Want to come play paintball? I'll even pay for you since you're unemployed :D.

Stepto-onreddit172 karma

ಠ_ಠ We can do saturday.

Also seriously twitter, facebook, messenger, email but we're using my AMA to dog park matchmake?

SEE WHY I LEFT PEOPLE? <g>

thevowel129 karma

You didn't answer the paintball question.

Stepto-onreddit132 karma

I'm being coy.

Actually let me gear up first and I will join the next session.

Stepto-onreddit87 karma

Right after you RT my AMA.

majornelson84 karma

Done. Now where is my lunch?

Stepto-onreddit112 karma

It's in the cafeteria, they laid it all out for you at the buffet and you pay for it at the register. I told them to expect you, but sometimes they forget.

elmarcodepico191 karma

What's the most hilarious Gamertag that you had to ban?

Stepto-onreddit557 karma

Testicular Pancakes.

mmoser47 karma

Doesn't make any sense. Gamertags can only be 15 chars long.

Stepto-onreddit45 karma

IIRC correctly it was truncated to sneak it in.

muymanwell128 karma

how serious is microsoft about tracking down the modding community? the last major banwave for modifications was november 09...aside from some false starts with AP2.0, and the implementation of xgd3 it's been pretty quiet over there.

Stepto-onreddit270 karma

Three questions in to hit my confidentiality agreement. Well done reddit that showed remarkable restraint! I can't answer your question with specificity, however let me give you some general opinions.

Personally I believe people have a right to tinker with their hardware in general. Innovation has always been driven by the quest to understand technology and improve upon it or find new uses for it. I think you only have to take a quick look at what happened with Kinect after we launched to see the benefits of hardware modification and tinkering. But that's just my general opinion on when it is used for good.

When it comes down to specialized devices subsidized by a business model that requires the protection of IP, that position can become a bit problematic. Because the model starts to break out somewhere around a small percentage of those people just tinkering and a larger group of people intending to subvert the system to pirate content or cheat. And in that model, any company would have to work to protect its ability to be attractive to content developers.

The short answer in general is that of course Microsoft would be serious about protecting the integrity of the Xbox LIVE service and the IP of our partners. Work was always going on in those areas and we publicly stated that. As to it being quiet, thats most often because we never really publicly broadcasted what we were doing. Beyond that I cannot answer with specifics.

The overall situation involving modding, etc is just far more complex in a model with subsidized devices than not.

CGSaw102 karma

What's the craziest excuse you ever saw for why an XBL account was banned?

Stepto-onreddit221 karma

I saw this excuse more than once and it never failed to amuse me:

"Please unban me, when I did that I was totally tripping balls on [insert drug] and I'll never do it again please please I don't want to lose all my stuff I was just so high when I [insert horrible thing they did]

Strayl1ght89 karma

So did you unban him?

Stepto-onreddit242 karma

Nope.

drock42443 karma

Any crazy excuses that you or someone else actually unbanned an account? (Probably not...)

Stepto-onreddit77 karma

Not crazy no. Usually we would lift a suspension if we can prove it was done during an unauthorized access but that's really about it.

t1rav3n96 karma

Did you personally encounter any mischief online that resulted in you immediately enacting the banhammer on them? VIA remote desktop for example.

Stepto-onreddit287 karma

I always used to game with a laptop next to me. When I came across bad behavior I always gave them a warning shot. "Hey you should check out my Bio and launch tags, I'm actually the head of enforcement, please stop doing what you are doing, etc etc"

Without fail, every time, I got back "Fuck you, asshole"

So I would move over to the laptop, click something, and they would go away in front of everyone. I usually took a moment to remind everyone of the code of conduct and move on from there.

There were two exceptions to this however, if the person just popped off a curse or something and that was the only thing they were doing and they weren't habilitually doing it I wasn't so puritan as to come down like a ton of bricks all over that. Sometimes when you spawn and get popped immediately from across the map by a sniper that is only one response you can have.

The second caveat is that I would not take action against someone even if they were disobeying the code of conduct if it meant my team would immediately win the match or would otherwise imbalance the play of the game. In that instance, so that I would not personally benefit from my role, I would call in one of my enforcers to evaluate and take action to provide a "double check"

thebitterbjacks91 karma

Cursing? Seriously? How can you get mad at people for cursing on an M rated game?

Stepto-onreddit69 karma

The rating does not applly to online interaction, because communication between users cant be "rated". So each online community has a Terms of Use and Code of Conduct (or something like it) to help regulate every interaction from devolving into a "I know more horrible phrases than you" battle.

Shaqsquatch10 karma

Does the "Underground" gaming zone grant a bit more leeway as far as this is concerned? Not that I'm one to do it, but after the description of that group it seemed weird language would be something considered tempting the banhammer.

Stepto-onreddit14 karma

Not really no.

bobbert4ever15 karma

Do you actually have a special tag or something in your bio or whatever else? I'm wondering this because if it's not something that's clearly official that someone else could fake, they might think you are just one of those people who is angry and says that fake stuff about being head of enforcement and stuff to try and scare people.

Also... could we see what this special tag/bio thing looks like on screen?

Stepto-onreddit38 karma

Yes I have a series of Xbox specific tags plus I had information in my Bio plus links in my bio to confirm it.

I get to keep the tags because they are ship specific (I earned them for shipping Xbox stuff) but I have modified my Bio etc to note I no longer work for MS

intake65 karma

Whatever happened to Microsoft freeing up unused Gamertags?

Stepto-onreddit84 karma

That was done, I believe Major Nelson had updates on it on his blog.

Yousty58 karma

Then why hasn't my old original xbox gamertag, that's been out of commission for 6 years, still locked but my friend's gamertag that was only out of commission for 4 years get freed up?
In case you can't tell, I REALLY want my original gamertag back. I even tweeted Major Nelson about it but got no reply.

Stepto-onreddit80 karma

Sorry, I don't work there anymore. I can't answer you on that one.

Wizzer280159 karma

Can you please explain, in detail, your experiences with "The Helicopter".

Stepto-onreddit76 karma

The Helicopter was not actually witnessed by me! It became the stuff of legend when it was seen by one of our team members while policing a game of Uno.

Now, I'm sure you all want me to tell you what it is and why it was called that. You think you want to know such information. You actually believe deep down that this is something you want to know more about. However, it isn't. It truly isn't. Were I to detail it for you here, a deranged future version of yourself would appear, having invented time travel solely for the purpose of killing you before you could read any further to spare you the damage.

I don't like to be coy, so I will say this. It involved a wooden drumstick, a body orifice, and gyrating. That's as close as I can go without risking mass suicide by future time travelers of everyone on this reddit.

(for those wondering about what the reference to "The Helicopter" is, please see this video of one of my performances at w00tstock (www.w00tstock.net)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C7qiSSOljM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToXvQ0X-Eko

DeadlyPorpoise58 karma

What's your favourite memory from leading the enforcement team - I'm thinking most memorable, wouldn't happen in any other industry, can't believe this is my job style stuff.

EDIT: I do not want to learn more about The Helicopter....

Also, what is the deal with Major Nelson and ice? Is it really THAT big a deal with him?

Stepto-onreddit141 karma

When I was introduced to Nathan Fillion at e3 a few years back as the Xbox LIVE enforcement dude and I shook his hand and said "Thanks so much, I love your work" and he did the double handed handshake with me and said "no man, thanks for your work"

After that, no matter what happens to me from now on, I have no reason to complain.

YES it is a big deal to him. I'd say it's an unhealthy obesession, but technically clear perfect ice is actually better for you.

[deleted]57 karma

What do you call a fortification consisting of an embankment, often with a parapet built on top?

Stepto-onreddit91 karma

Our vacation home.

oO_Wallace_Oo51 karma

In my mind each console generation (That I have been around for) has brought about a kind of paradigm shift or can sort of be summed up by a statement. The 5th Generation gave us 3D gaming (Super Mario 64), the 6th brought visually stunning and emersive stories (Shadow Of The Colossus) and the current has connected us all together (Xbox Live, PSN) and expanded the audience for gaming (Wii, Kinect).

Question: What do you envision will be the defining feature of the 8th generation ?

Stepto-onreddit95 karma

That there will not be a generation easily defined as the "8th"

When I think about the future of "gaming platforms" since the gameboy came out you have essentially had three: The PC, Dedicated console, or a specific hand held gaming console.

Now? You have Facebook, flash games, iPads, phones, Vita's, smart TV's (and let's not forget something like onLive which might try to wrap it all up together anytime anywhere). Even if you pick some defining feature of the "8th" generation, the next few years result in slightly less about platforms competing directly against other platforms in their market, and slightly more about all platforms simply competing for people's free time. What becomes a "generation" will be less driven by a console refresh and much more about Interactive entertainment.

I know that answer sounds a lot like a copout, but as technology and processing power continue to permeate every single aspect of our overall devices (honestly the days of wifi coffee machines and fridges is past us, next up wifi enable sinks and thermostats (oh hello nest!)) the concept of a "gaming platform" will most likely continue to dilute to where it's more about the gaming IP you play than the place you play it on. (edit: IP meaning Intellectual property)

Junkie8149 karma

Why leave when the XBOX is doing so great? That still my big question. :)

And then the economy and jobs, etc... Why would you want to leave?

Stepto-onreddit99 karma

I left for a lot of reasons, but to answer the root of your question I just felt given the way the group is organized, and Microsoft in general, I simply couldn't be as effective as I wanted to be in doing my job. That's not a knock against Xbox or Microsoft. I had a lot of personal stress in the past 6 months at home, and the work stress on top of it wasn't helping. Plus, I had been with Microsoft for 18 years. I turn 40 this year. Microsoft is all I have ever known. Time to move on and see whats next.

(more information: http://www.stepto.com/2012/02/in-which-i-leave-microsoft/)

Blue_5ive45 karma

What was the most common thing people were banned for?

Least common and/or most extreme thing?

Stepto-onreddit62 karma

We talked about it a lot publicly that the vast majority of suspensions were profile infractions or bad gamertags. That represented the bulk of our efforts, as well as cheating.

The much more rare cases were nudity on camara or other situations. We detailed a lot of this in our PAX talks on Youtube.

DiscountLlama41 karma

Do you own an actual ban hammer, or a hammer that can be used to ban?

Stepto-onreddit65 karma

We had many props that we often did with PAX, etc. But no, no actual banhammer. However our toolset that did the actual banning, called Vulcan, is detailed in this youtube video. Please to enjoy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhz9eTcL1h0

Willeth37 karma

You were extremely vocal and available for the press and community while at MS, which is unusual for policy enforcement teams and especially for one as big as Xbox Live. Was this an intentional move or did it happen naturally? Will you continue to do this at future positions? Where would you have liked to guide MS's policies had you stayed, and where do you see or hope it going in the future?

Also, can you comment at all on the unpredictable blacklist that neutered Quarrel's online play?

Stepto-onreddit68 karma

Totally intentional. I believed very strongly in an available, transparent, and accountable enforcement team. When we made mistakes we tried to own up to them. When we were right, we wanted to make sure people knew that too because the Internet is awful quick to jump on "Big Bad Company stomps on people" stories. (waves at consumerist.com)

I would probably insist that any future role I had that involved direct impact to customers of a platform be the same. I believe customers have a right to contact people in charge of this stuff which is why I always made my email available.

I can't speak specifically to Quarrel but in my personal opinion the string vetting technology on all platforms needs a serious rethink.

ControlledBurn30 karma

Now that you've officially left, would you say you're running ahead?

Stepto-onreddit50 karma

If so, this time I totally meant to!

(for those wondering this is an injoke from the Major Nelson podcast of which I was a co host and refers to my tendency during coop games like left for dead to run ahead of the group. And sometimes get killed. Or get them killed)

Jimmythejet30 karma

Is there anything you wish you had the chance to implement in Xbox security before you left?

Stepto-onreddit44 karma

TONS.

But again, the nature of software development is that you are always working on improving what you are in charge of. I can't go into specifics of course, but the answer to the question is yeah I wish there was a lot of features customers have asked for that could be there today.

JosephPhoenix30 karma

Who do you fault in young kids playing violent video games: Parents or the vendor who sells the kids the games?

Stepto-onreddit58 karma

Parents first, vendors second.

As a kid I was always angling to get into R rated movies, so there's only so much you can blame the vendors. With enough time a kid will get what they want.

Parents however, bear the brunt for not being engaged or not understanding their kids activities. Now having said that, there are far more good parents than bad parents as a general rule. The core issue is that they truly do not understand just how graphic and mature some of the most popular games have become. On Reddit here a while back someone linked a pic in /r/gaming of a kid no more than 11 or so with his arms full of Modern Warfare games he got for xmas or something. I can almost promise you the parent who did that has never played those games, never truly looked at the single player aspects of them, or if they have its only been over the shoulder glances.

Part of that is the paren't fault and part of that is the industry's fault. We have to get better about equipping parents with the right information and tools, and parents have to stop thinking of all video games as being harmless distractions. This isn't to say I think video games cause violence, I don't. But I do believe it is absolutely innappropriate for a child to be playing the Call of Duty series for instance.

One thing I was always proud of for Microsoft was our investment in getgamesmart.com which promotes guidance on how to help parents incorporate gaming into a healthy lifestyle that includes outside play as well as video gaming.

smeehrrr24 karma

Also, when and where can I buy a copy of your book made out of actual dead trees?

Stepto-onreddit14 karma

Lulu.com has soft cover and hard cover editions of my book. Just search on the title.

deathapples20 karma

What was it like to work with Major Nelson?

Stepto-onreddit38 karma

Yay a softball question! <g>

Larry's actually a friend, so it's a really cool thing when you get to work side by side with your friends. He, e, and Laura and I somehow developed this dynamic that clicked in person, on the air via the podcast, and when we all game together.

The thing about Larry is how unlike his Xbox persona he is in general. You have to realize when he's shooting his videos and stuff he's in character to a certain extent. When you hear him in the podcast that's much more the normal Larry.

He's a really good guy who has a passion for gaming and technology. While he's an Xbox employee, he certainly loves all gaming platforms and has a keen interest in the area as a whole.

Rotaz20 karma

Do you have any plans on remaining in contact with Microsoft on a professional level? Will you/would you do any consulting for them in the future, perhaps?

Stepto-onreddit42 karma

I'm a member of the Microsoft Alumni association and would certainly either work for the company in the future or partner with them. Our parting was totally amicable and I still think its a place that makes great technology.

Vikurai19 karma

What degree did you earn to get such a job?

Stepto-onreddit44 karma

No degree. I ran out of money half way through trying to get a double major in English and Philosophy. Joined Microsoft a year later. Never looked back.

j-cutter18 karma

At PAX 2010, you were talking about the enforcement issues Kinect was going to cause.

well, less talking, more holding your head in your hands....

How did that pan out? Was it any better/worse then you thought?

And what's the deal with the UNO Cats, anyway?

Stepto-onreddit36 karma

Kinect in my opinion was a pleasent surprise from an eforcement perspective. We didn't have nearly the issues we thought we would have.

No idea re: Uno Cats. (for those wondering, a substantial portion of people who played Uno with the vision cam would point it at their cats)

I think if we suss out Uno cats we'll also figure out cat pictures as karma currency on Reddit.

msgbonehead18 karma

Favorite story from your years at Microsoft?

Stepto-onreddit35 karma

FINALLY an excuse to paste in a chapter from my book. Actually since the chapter is kinda long I will link to a video of my doing a reading from it on Jococruisecrazy (jococruisecrazy.com) last year:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf_7GPmZVKU&feature=player_detailpage#t=90s

(tl;dw: my favorite story from MS is how totally screwed up our building layouts are on the Microsoft campus. It's probably the story most microsoft employees say is their favorite one in the book as well because we all have to live it EVERY DAY)

Vcent18 karma

Yo, thanks for doing this (semi promotional :D ) AmA ;) Now, how does the banhammer team stand on the whole "not entirely original Microsoft" -stuff? Im not talking of the people pirating, im thinking of "modded" harddrives, since the originals are very expensive- has anyone been banned for using a non MS HDD(even though he didnt pirate etc etc)? Also - favorite food, color, what car do you drive, what car WOULD you like to drive? TV size? DSLR camera or point & shoot? End of war on earth forever OR infinite food for erveryone?

Stepto-onreddit20 karma

Wow. ok let's do this:

  1. Running any type of unauthorized hardware runs the risk of a ban.
  2. Yes.
  3. Spicy food, be it Creole, Thai, or Mexican. Love hot hot food.
  4. Blue
  5. a 2007 build to order Mercedes Benz c350. I even picked it up in germany. Wonderful car.
  6. The new Tesla S sedan.
  7. 65" Plasma
  8. If I was any good at real photography, DSLR for sure.
  9. Infinite food. I think that would solve at least somewhat the war problem. I'm not sure how you can have peace on earth without it. Hunger usually sparks violent survival instincts.

maou8217 karma

Would you consider working for SONY if the opportunity arose?

Stepto-onreddit34 karma

I would absolutely. I think the Playstation is a great platform and brand (I own a launch PS3 and two slims).

And I also think they have some work to do in their online experience. <g>

Psyfallen17 karma

When Seattle finally gets it's own hockey team, will you: A. Get season tickets B. Buy a Seattle [insert name here] jersey. C. Which jersey would you wear if they were playing vs. the Stars?

Stepto-onreddit24 karma

If Seattle gets a franchise I will totally get season tickets and buy a jersey, depending on how we get the franchise and some other factors. But in a battle against the stars I would wear my stars jersey. :>

Psyfallen10 karma

Look forward to potentially seeing you there sir. Follow up question, if it were up to you, what would you name the team?

Stepto-onreddit22 karma

The Seattle Freeze.

(that's an injoke for people who live in Seattle)

gorbie16 karma

Why are the XBL enforcement actions so non-transparent?

It's improved over the years, but it is still difficult for the people on the receiving end to actually figure out what caused the ban (obviously not in cases of blatant abuse). Why can't the enforcement actions be associated with:

"At approximately 8:11pm March 3rd 2012, your account was engaged in behavior violating the terms of service you agreed when you signed up for the service. Specifically you were playing Fifa 2012 on XBL with a modded Xbox 360."

or

"The complaints regarding your online behavior from other XBL members has exceeded a threshold for a temporary account suspension. Your suspension ends on March 13th 2012 at 12:04:12 PST."

You get the point.

This would eliminate the guessing game, and reduce the amount of whining about the bans tremendously.

In addition the process of addressing bans made in mistake (or due to hacked accts) is incredibly frustrating for recipients of the bans.

And, no, I have not been banned from XBL, ever.

Stepto-onreddit8 karma

It's continual improvement. But a lot of those types of changes require product changes too, I imagine you will most likely see further strides. I agree it needs to be better.

ikiddo16 karma

Why when these mass hackings were at the biggest peak, was there very little communication with the community? Not just from MS but also from EA? Also, any idea on why these hacks are still continuing?

All the best in the future. :)

Stepto-onreddit24 karma

This comes up against my confidentiality agreement again, but I can say my bias was always for more transparency and more communication no matter what the issue was. In my personal opinion we could have done better on that.

In regards to why the attacks are continuing I have to point to Microsoft and EA to comment on that.

neths15 karma

iPhone, Android, or Windows Mobile phone?

Stepto-onreddit22 karma

iPhone 4s. I'm very much invested in the iOS platform from an apps and content perspective. While droid and Windows mobile offer good alternatives, neither are good enough for me to abandon my apps, learn new UI, etc etc.

neths15 karma

how about where did the 1v100 game go? =(

Stepto-onreddit18 karma

eladnator15 karma

What was the best thing about working at microsoft

Stepto-onreddit35 karma

Getting to work on stuff that will literally be used by hundreds of millions of people. And not just the charge of that audience, but also getting to work on future stuff. At any given time at work 20-30% of my time was spent on things people would not see for a few years.

mmmmmmcoffee14 karma

What's it like to play Rockband in the war room?

Stepto-onreddit29 karma

The Microsoft Security Response Center has a dedicated War Room:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13860_3-9827124-56.html

It has a nice sound system and a big projection screen in addition to tons of smaller displays all around the room etc etc.

Which makes it the ideal place to play rock band. The room is big, the sound is loud, and the screen is HUGE.

So to answer in short form: IT'S AWESOME.

Not that I facilitated any such playing or otherwise participated, I'm just, you know, speculatin' on a hypothesis.

twinkling_star14 karma

How often did you hand out bans that you wish you didn't have to do? Any gamertags even more awesome than "Cow Moolester" that you had to force people to change?

Stepto-onreddit33 karma

I appreciate edgy humor, so there were often times that I would have a chuckle at a gamertag or a profile line before I would have to take action. My sensibilities couldn't interfere, the Code of Conduct and the Terms of Use had to be the same for everyone.

zurrboat13 karma

So... Pc or Xbox?

Stepto-onreddit69 karma

Why choose? In my house I have a wii, PS3, Xbox, gaming PC (m11x) and iOS devices I game on. Locking yourself into just one platform really limits your options.

[deleted]13 karma

Is there anything that you wanted to accomplish before you left Microsoft that you regret not doing?

Stepto-onreddit11 karma

Yes and no. I accomplished so much there and got to be a part of so many things I really cannot complain or feel like I missed something. I got to be a part of shipping Windows 95, was involved in the push to secure our products which culminated in milestones like XP SP2, Win2k3 server, and Windows 7, and got to ship so many amazing things on Xbox like the New Xbox experience and Kinect.

Feels like saying I missed out on anything would be kinda douchy. <g>

I do wish I could have done more for enforcement and security at Xbox for sure, but then again that's a job that never ends.

Eyehavenoidea12 karma

do you guys no longer ban people? because instead of just banning my account you "temporarily" suspended it until december 31st 9999.

http://imgur.com/QNKk9

Stepto-onreddit14 karma

That's just the UI message for permabanned. Agree it should be more clear.

stuka0612 karma

Will you follow the March Sportsballs Insanity and if so, who will you sportcheer for?

Stepto-onreddit12 karma

I used to follow March Madness like a religion. But that was also back in the days where I also followed NFL and Hockey too and had a lot more free time. Unfortunately I don't have the time for bracketology anymore. (But my favorite was always LSU)

AndrewNeo11 karma

Have you ever seen or read Why Was I Banned? and what do you think of it?

Stepto-onreddit12 karma

I think it's the counterbalance to people who don't understand there's no barrier to lie on the Internet and don't realize the first line in every tutorial online for what to do when your banned is scream you are innocent until they unban you.

kennansoft10 karma

Is there a best of list on excuses for Xbox bans at the office?

And if so is there any way we can get to see them?

Stepto-onreddit16 karma

  1. yes.

  2. no.

WTBroadway10 karma

[deleted]

Stepto-onreddit24 karma

What e said.

acidrainn9 karma

  1. What's your favorite game to play in your free time to let off some steam?

  2. What is your best memory a Microsoft?

Thanks for doing this and I hope you succeed in your future endeavors.

Stepto-onreddit25 karma

My favorite game right now is Battlefield 3 on the 360. But I do spend a lot of time on Civ5 on the PC. I'm about to put an awful lot of time into Mass Effect 3. :D

Best memory? Probably my going away party where the entire group made drinks and had beers and presented me with a huge signed banner. I worked with amazing people and I miss them all very much.

goretooth8 karma

Can you tell us anything about the ongoing FIFA card scandal?

Also how do you get a games anti cheating system to work with your internal abuse recognition systems?

Stepto-onreddit7 karma

  1. Afraid not.

  2. We work closely with the enforcement teams on the publisher and developer sides to make sure we're operating well together. Often this is as simple as a weekly report between us, or some type of programmatic work to make sure we're in sync.

brian8908 karma

What is the funniest email someone has sent you when asking why they are banned?

Stepto-onreddit27 karma

Honestly I didn't get a lot of funny ones, I got a lot of sad ones from Parents railing about how there's no way their child could have possibly committed a bannable offense because they are such an engaged parent and know everything their child does online all the time. Then we go look at the data and it's clear the kid has no supervision past 9pm/bedtime and you give them the data and they immediately bounce back with how it must be one of the kid's friends while staying over (despite the data clearly showing the same behavior every night, night after night.)

Parents, if your child has an xbox (or PS3, etc) in their room, and you have not enabled child accounts and parental controls on it, I promise you that kid is on almost every night without your knowledge. Also I bet you think having your router locked down helps, but they are smart enough to use the neighbor's unlocked one.

OddaJosh7 karma

How do you guys handle reports? I imagine you get tons every day - how did you guys follow up on all of them (if you do..)?

Also, any cool perks for working at Microsoft? Free stuff?

Stepto-onreddit12 karma

We detailed our enforcement process during PAX last year, a youtube clip I linked to earlier goes into more detail, however complaints flow into a system that presorts them by accuracy and obviousness of it being bad behavior, everything is then presented to agents who review them and take action. Those actions are to mark the complaint "Accurate, inaccurate, or reasonable" meaning the complainer did indeed report bad behavior, falsely reported bad behavior, or reported bad behavior we didn't agree was bad, however it doesn't look like the person was being malicious about it.

In regards to free stuff, sure lots. But to find out what you have to get a job there. :>

lets_discuss_butts7 karma

What do you think of all the reset glitch hacks?

Stepto-onreddit17 karma

I terms of just tinkering and understanding hardware I think it's pretty inventive stuff.

When it's used to impact legit LIVE customers via cheating or things like that, well: ಠ_ಠ

johnmollb7 karma

I've heard of people asking their friends to report their gamertag as offensive. 1. Does this work? 2. What's your view on the issue?

Stepto-onreddit9 karma

  1. if its not offensive then it doesnt work.
  2. waste of time, and if you do it enough, we can hit you for filing false reports.

AgentJustice6 karma

Is it true that you were actually interviewing with NASA at your recent Kennedy Space Center visit?

Stepto-onreddit12 karma

Don't I wish. Although I can't decide who I would rather work for, NASA or Virgin Galactic. I believe the work going on in Mojeve will end up being more important long term than the entire shuttle program was.

AimeeEvilpixie5 karma

Will you still be making appearances at Wootstock and similar? I really enjoyed your readings from the Book of Enforcement.

Stepto-onreddit6 karma

I enjoy very much performing at w00tstock and other geek venues, if you like that type of thing please let the good folks at w00tstock know (w00tstock.net)

[deleted]5 karma

Let's talk Halo. Do you like it? What do you think of it? Thoughts on Halo 4?

Stepto-onreddit7 karma

Adore Halo. I'm one of those people who didnt think it would succeed actually, I was a die hard PC FPS person.

Here's a speech I gave regarding that at Halofest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w84EbRUqZdE&feature=player_detailpage#t=205s

I'm credited in Halo3, Halo ODST, Halo Reach, and Halo anniversary edition, so I am a bit biased.

For those who really dont get the whole Halo "thing" it has a very rich backstory, with awesome science fiction authors such as Greg Bear and Eric Nyland and Karen Traviss writing books in the Halo universe. Dont just check out the games, check out the books too. It's good stuff.

insidethesun5 karma

My xbox account was hacked and the person bought tons of xbox live points, I then heard about this happening to several other people including a famous podcaster

  • How come Xbox has kept this on the hush hush and there hasn't been any news on it?
  • When they investigate and close the case, returning your money, are they ever able to catch the person who committed the crime and punish them?

Stepto-onreddit10 karma

  1. Actually I have talked prior to my leaving to a number of outlets on that very issue. I suppose from your statement its clear we could have done more. But We did talk about it.
  2. Actions are taken against the other person yes.

regul5 karma

You said in another response that you root for LSU, where are you from? Where did you grow up?

Stepto-onreddit10 karma

Grew up all my life in Dallas until I moved to Seattle in 2002. My stepdad went to LSU and is from New Orleans (Metarie) so I have spent a TON of time in the big easy.

josh420425 karma

On the podcast, were you guys prevented from being too critical of "bad" games?

Stepto-onreddit4 karma

The podcast was not a "review" podcast. If was a chance to sit down, talk about what we're playing, and interesting industry topics.

People get confused that because we didn't trash a bunch of games that there was some edict on us. We honestly weren't in the business to be "critiquing" or reviewing games. In fact there are many instances where you hear us say "I played XYZ, it wasn't really for me" or "I didn't like the controls" etc.

I think people confuse our chatting with being some type of hard hitting game review podcast, when its just us talking about whatever we popped in. We didn't have to play every game that came out and talk about it.

drisawesome4 karma

Do you have any plans to write another book? I really enjoyed the first one.

Stepto-onreddit11 karma

I have three more books I am trying to finish. Two are non fiction along the lines of my first book, the third is fiction. I'm going to start a kickstarter soon because trying to do three at once means I will need resources to complete them in a time frame that doesn't involve all three landing at once in a year.

pwhiteh3 karma

Are you surprised by the number of hockey questions in this thread?

Stepto-onreddit7 karma

Pleasently so.