GDC 07 - Day 1 Sony

   08/03/2007 at 19:31       Richard Horne       8 COMMENTS.
After much recent cogitation and conjecture, Sony yesterday used its Game Developers Conference keynote speech presented by Phil Harrison, to officially unveil its PS3 Home service as well as a massive, very-pleasant surprise in the form of the new and unique Little Big Planet.

After Sony's public falling out and then forceful and aggressive make-up anal sex with Kotaku this week, most of us had already heard about Sony's Home service, but it was good to finally have it confirmed as well as fleshed out with some proper official detail.

So what is it exactly? Well Sony themselves describe it as "...a real-time, networked 3D avatar-based community that serves as a meeting place for PS3 users from around the world" which actually, in a first for press speak, hits the proverbial nail right on the forehead. Imagine if you will, a sort of Sims and Second Life crossover but with a well rounded Sony finish to it (and without Dirtbox violating every known orifice).

Check out the official presentation video of it below as it paints a much more effective picture than I can be bothered painting with words.

The Home service will of course be free - as Sony themselves and rampant fanboys constantly keep reminding us before always adding "unlike an Xbox Live Gold subscription" but the cynic in me wonders exactly how Sony will make the vast sums of money it will inevitably require to create and run this considerable system. At this point it seems fairly obvious to expect mass in-Home advertising which could be a good or bad thing depending on how the system ultimately pans out. Think movie or TV programme adverts with accompanying trailers and YouTube-esque videos and they're surely onto a winner. But if the system means having to see compulsory virtual billboards left right and centre or annoying intrusive adverts then surely paying 40 a year for a quick, intuitive and instant Gold Xbox Live account may, for many remain, the more attractive option.

The home service will also apparently allow for:

Making your own personalized 3D character or avatar. These realistic human characters are highly customizable with different body types, skin tones, ages, clothing and accessories, creating a unique personality for each user.
Exploring the 3D community that is Home - a sleek, modern indoor space featuring spacious common areas, retail shops, game lobbies and extensible, customizable personal apartments.
Communicating with others through text, audio and video chat, along with sophisticated emotional animations for each character.
Being assigned an apartment in Home where others can be invited to join you as you show off your own style in an area you can personalize yourself with furniture, art and other items. You can even show your video, pictures and music content stored on your PS3 hard drive.
"Hall of Fame," where you can display new 3D trophies that will be unlocked through in-game milestones in PS3 games.

The Home system is scheduled for a full release in Autumn but demos of the interface will be made available to a select few in April.

It's also worth pointing out that Sony is obviously aiming the Home system, similarly to Nintendo, at the non-traditional gamer. The types of people who will spend an evening just fucking around with Home as opposed to actually playing any games and so while it may seem initially unappealing to those of use who consider ourselves to be hardcore (god I hate that term), as much as we hate to accept or admit it we're no longer the primary target audience or paying customers that Sony's long term strategy is aiming to capture.

Which brings me very nicely onto Sony's second announcement, which I alluded to in the opening paragraph. Little Big Planet.

Again I should really let the pictures do the talking.

Sony seems to be again jumping on the user created bandwagon and almost considers LBW to be the YouTube of videogames specifically listing the following features:

Players craft their own individual experience. There's not just one way to play.
Unlimited possibilities for user-created content - players can customize everything: their characters, the landscape around them and their own "patch" on LittleBigPlanet.
Players discover and win new skills and items to aid them on their creative journey.
Online and offline multiplayer modes - work as a team or get competitive.

Why not join in the discussion on LBW in our very own forum.
User Comments:

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Carrybagma - on 09/03/2007 at 02:33 wrote:
They really stand to make a killing with Home. People will spend a small fortune on trying to appear a little bit different, or have different furniture or have a bigger flat, or have a nice view. Then there'll be custom clan-wear, chav-wear, goth-wear etc. And that's long before you get into paying for DLC on the games themselves.

Buying a PS3 is starting to look like buying a Mercedes - you think you're getting the best for your money, but then you discover the options list..

Trip SkyWay - on 09/03/2007 at 08:18 wrote:
The current look of Home in videos is a little bit of a disappointment for me. It's all a bit modern living cool and plain.

I was hoping for a more chaotic world with people choosing characters, and room styles from the games they like. A Loco Roco character having a party in his primary coloured apartment with his friend the wipeout space ship, and a WWF wrestler.

This approach could surely a DLC goldmine for developers, if each game had character customisation parts for players to buy or earn.

These early videos don't seem that expressive, letting me choose shirt and tie or t-shirt seems a little weak. Let me put a huge dinosaur in my room , instead of a selection of habitat sofas.

peej - on 09/03/2007 at 10:16 wrote:
LBP looks like the perfect game for me. A touch of Loco Roco, a smidgeon of Klonoa and a good co-op mode.

Home though - no ta. It's a bit too second lifey-myspacey for me. Free it might be but naff and shit it will undoubtedly be.


Carrybagma - on 09/03/2007 at 14:54 wrote:
PJ - That's what makes me think it could be huge. The unwashed hoardes of British youth (for starters) would be in heaven buying the DLC equivalent of TKMaxx tat and then messaging eachother about nothing of concequence - "lol lk @ mi new hat. its wkd! lol"

Whereas pocket money currently disappears on texting etc, Sony offer a new way of disposing of spare cash. It's a big mall, and will attract the sort of people who like big malls. The human race is doomed to live in Sony cyberspace! :o(

JediMasterMalik - on 09/03/2007 at 16:12 wrote:
I like the look of both tbh, ALOT. With that sad, LBP does things to me few games can do.

Carrybagma - on 09/03/2007 at 19:22 wrote:
Well, it did look good, but I think I people are getting carried away with it, on reflection. The biggest (pleasant) surprise was that Sony presented a game like that at all. I'll wait until I see some hands-on reviews or first impressions before I throw my hat in the air. It could turn out to be pretty vacant.

LeD - on 09/03/2007 at 23:38 wrote:
One thing for sure is that LBP looks charming. Gorgeous visuals. I'm not too keen on that sort of game myself, but it is definitely going to delight a lot of people. And anything that has coop play gets my thumbs up.

ThreeOutsideDown - on 11/03/2007 at 22:48 wrote:
'home' i really couldn't care less about.

little big planet has a nice art style and looks 19.99 nice. that is i'd pay 19.99 for it as it seems like a pleasant short term diversion. but it's definitely not the second coming as some people seem to be building it up to be.

unfortunately the ps3 doesn't need titles that i'd class as 19.99 nice. it needs titles that are 425 wow! at the minute there's nothing that would persuade me to cough up the price of a new machine to play it.

don't get me wrong, i'm sure the amazing titles will arrive. but at the moment it's all a bit meh for such cynical jaded gamer like myself.

bah. humbug.

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