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Posts with tag Home

Sony's public Home beta is actually quite private

We knew there was supposed to be a public beta in addition to Sony's invite-only private beta for Home, but we thought it was going to be similar to an open beta, where most anyone could join in and report bugs. Not so. Sony's own Jamie MacDonald described the scenario as this: "At the moment the closed beta is employees, trusted third-parties and people like that. An open beta will be a wider audience but it won't be open to everybody ... We haven't worked out the exact way of doing it but it will be invites to people to ask if they want to be part of it, and then depending on what the response is, we'll have to have some way of deciding who can and who can't take part."

So the next stage of Home will still be invite-only, but it'll reach a wider audience. After that beta concludes, the program will simply pop up on our XMB's after what we assume will be a low-key firmware update. MacDonald implies this by saying Home isn't the typical game, so it won't get a typical launch. "There isn't going to be this 'big bang' launch. That's how you do it in the web 2.0 world, if you're familiar with the launch of Gmail or something like that." Initially scheduled for an October release, with a public beta not yet out, we're estimating that Home will get pushed back to November. We could be wrong, though.

Sony denies Home release date


Although Kotaku is claiming that Home would be released on October 11th, Sony has a few things to say against that. A Sony spokesperson told GI.biz that the list on Kotaku is "not an official release schedule. None of the dates on the list have been confirmed at this time."

"I don't know where Kotaku have taken them from or why they're claiming 'SCEE have clarified dates' as we haven't sent them anything, and neither have our Central office."

The popular gaming blog is famous for revealing Home to the masses, but has also misled readers with an inaccurate portrayal of what the PSP redesign would be. More details on Sony's PSN service will be forthcoming at TGS, but considering the fairly sparse support that the Home beta has received, we predict that the service will need a lot more time to develop into something truly worthwhile.

Home beta still lacking key features, says insider

Not a lot of people got into the private beta of Home, and the public beta has gone missing. Since the user base is so small, any inside information is really difficult to come by. One beta tester revealed to IGN, under a cloak of anonymity, a few details.
  • So far, the beta just has four areas: your apartment, a lobby, the movie theater (with 10 rooms), and the game room (6 pool tables, 4 bowling lanes, 10 arcade machines).
  • As of yet, no support has been utilized for in-Home game launches -- that is, you can't invite people to play games from Home yet.
  • Facial creation is the most detailed, but hair and clothing is still limited. Recently, body size was added, but it's not as detailed as the facial features.
  • No music, movie, or photo integration with your apartment made it into the beta. There are some generic samples, but nothing you can upload yourself. Heck, TVs and stereos aren't even available as pieces of furniture.
  • You can walk into your apartment, but you need to get invited and warp into a friends' place. That's the only way to get into another player's pad.
  • Even though a lot of things are missing that are promised in the "final" build upon public release, what is there works wonderfully. The arcade games promote communication and placing furniture is simple. Physics work well.
  • Home supports headsets and keyboard -- you press/hold R2 to talk. Instead of having one standard volume, your voice is loud relative to the people around you. So if you're in a crowded lobby, you can still have a one-on-one conversation while everyone else sounds like a murmuring crowd. That's pretty cool.
While a lot of features seem missing, a cause of concern since the October launch is approaching fast (if that's still the plan), Home is said to work well. It's very open and easy to get into and talk to people. We're glad to hear it, but we'd be a lot happier if Sony kept on top of updating the build so we could get some insight into the more advanced features detailed at E3.

Sony's four C's of online gaming

At the Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival, SCEE's Jamie Macdonald gave a talk entailing the world beyond "social gaming" in the land of PS3's Home. It's probably important to describe the four C's as soon as possible, so they are: community, competition, creativity, and commerce. These four ideas, Macdonald said, would assist in making Sony the dominant force in social gaming. He thinks creating quaint, parlor games for cross-generational groups and friends is an important and untapped piece of gaming culture Home will try to capitalize on.

In addition to Macdonald, Home's director Peter Edward gave a short talk also. He spoke of plans to have a fully-functioning social network within Home in the coming years -- less like MySpace, more like OurSpace, if you know what we mean. Another interesting tidbit was the fact Sony will "be giving out tools to allow scripting, java minigames and so on." We doubt this implies anyone can make a java game to slap up on Home, but in the coming years, perhaps such tools will be made available to users. That's our imaginations at work, not Edwards'.

What Edwards did imagine was revenue sharing -- allowing certain company's or brands to advertise in your personal room for a small slice of profit. Perhaps they'll stick a few dollars in your PS Store account or something. Would you guys be up for that? If you were given a few dollars to have a certain brand in your personal room, would you do it?

[via N4G]

How Sony plans to keep Home secure

Don't be a bad boy (or girl) while sitting in Home or else big daddy Sony will punish you! Anyone with a sheltered childhood, wishing to escape with a new virtual persona via Home, will be saddened to hear that Sony is going to crack down on Home abusers with a mighty ban hammer -- suspending their use of Home and perhaps even locking their PS3 system from getting online.

Home's boss Peter Edwards doesn't mean to say Sony will become a hardcore policing force on the program, rather "it's a hard line to draw because we don't want to be walking around telling everyone off for saying 'bloody' so we've got to strike a balance there," but if you do something incredibly inappropriate (think MySpace inappropriate), then you'll get locked away from the PS3's internet for good. Keeping certain lobbies for certain games cleaner depending on the age demographic therein (no sex jokes in the Barbie Coliseum or whatever) is key, basically. Hopefully we all don't mind holding our tongues outside of our personal rooms in Home and hopefully we all have moderately pure intentions when talking to others. Anyone hot and bothered by this announcement?

Home may completely replace the XMB

We've got a few more details on the upcoming release of Home for you today. They aren't the biggest announcements, but they're things that you're absolutely better off knowing. Some of them are disappointing, some of them are ambitious, but all of them deserve mentioning in a fancy bulleted list.
  • Home is currently capped at 60 people per room, for frame-rate issue reasons. If we can put in our two cents, we recommend a Phantasy Star Universe approach for the rooms -- players, you know what we mean.
  • Travel between zones is more straightforward than originally planned. You can run as well as walk, or just use the magical PSP interface to warp wherever you want.
  • Many organizations desire Home to completely replace the XMB. That is, when you boot up your PS3, you start off in your room in Home.
  • Work on Home will continue well into next year, so the product we get in October is in no way the final version of the program.
These are all ambitious claims and we're looking forward to seeing what even the incomplete build will be able to do. Then we can gauge how well the other points will work out. How do you all feel about Home perhaps someday replacing the XMB altogether? Would you prefer the option, at least, to start up into Home upon turning the PS3 on?

Japanese Home vid shows off the ability to dress like Phil

The embedded Japanese Home trailer above shows off some of the new outdoor environments displayed at last month's E3 and a couple other features as well; mainly, the ability to dress up like your favorite Sony executive. About halfway through the video, during the character customization portion, you see a pretty wide variety of clothing options including shirts, pants and suits modeled after the clothing that Phil Harrison, Kaz Hirai and Jack Tretton wear.

That's right, you can run around the Home world in a Ratchet hat, a custom blue Phil Harrison t-shirt, and Jack Tretton's pants. Now who amongst us can say we've never dreamt of that? Right now, it's unknown if this is just a Beta feature or something that will go into the full release this fall. We can only hope it stays in, since dressing up like Kaz Harai and running around yelling 'Riiiiiidge Racer!' is just too fun of an idea to ignore. So which sexy Sony executive would you dress up?

Home development kit version 0.1 in the hands of devs


The development kit for Home has been in the hands of the developers for a few weeks and will allow them to develop super awesome environments, trophies and games for the Home platform. Eventually. Currently the dev kit is at version 0.1 and contains basic tools for creating scenes. Right now it only supports models created in Maya, though that will no doubt be expanded to other 3D graphics packages, such as 3D Studio Max and Softimage XSI.

This information comes from a lecture given at the Develop Conference last week by James Cox from SCEE. He laid out the plans for upcoming versions of the development kit, saying that version 0.8 will allow 3D game creation for within Home spaces. Version 1.1 will be the first time the exporter for trophy achievements will be made available.

We're a little worried at just how functional Home is going to be this Autumn, if the kit currently has such limited tools. Will all the upcoming titles for this year support trophies, minigames and Home spaces? That depends on how quickly the new versions are shipped out to developers. Sony is still determined to release the Home platform this year.

Phil Harrison talks Home, 30fps Madden

Phil Harrison can't seem to get through an interview without receiving the first degree on Home and LittleBigPlanet. We bet when he sleeps at night, he might just be plagued with dreams about answering questions on those two titles. Not that it's a bad thing, but we're sure it's taking its toll on him. Anyway, in a recent 1UP interview, Phil answered some of the questions we've been wondering about for a while.
  • About Madden on PS3 running at 30fps: "It would concern me if the platform was incapable of doing it, but we've proven the platform is capable of doing it, so it's not a PlayStation 3 issue. I'm trying to be polite." He talks about the Edge dev kit and how Sony's own titles are running at full 1080p with 60fps, basically dodging the more obvious answer: EA Sports are lazy.
  • When asked if Home were going to be shipped with completed features and basically everything that Home could possibly have upon launch, Harrison replied: "There will be features that get added over time, it's not going to be everything that we've ever talked about at the beginning of the service. I'm being very clear we never intended for that to be the case, either, but we have a clear road map of where and how and when we're going to be adding functions and features."
As far as Home itself, it's progressing well and is still due out this Fall. Development kits were sent out on July 10th to developers to start prepping titles to be Home-ready and the beta is going well. We can't wait to get our trophies for playing games in Home, or our fun little T-shirts letting people know that we really, really dig Virtua Fighter 5. Or whatever else we dig at that point.
[via N4G]

Home beta test survey gives info on possible expansions


One of our readers has emailed us to let us know that Sony has sent each member of the Home closed beta a simple survey. Consisting of only a single "question", the survey asks testers to rate the importance of a list of features from 1 to 5. Here are our top rated features, the rest are after the jump.
  • Purchasable private spaces for clans/groups (5)
  • Community events (movies/concerts/developer chats/other events) (5)
  • Ability to customize avatars with unique items based on game accomplishments and ownership (5)
  • The ability to acquire (find/learn/buy) collectible/limited edition items (5)
  • Additional avatar customization (non-human enhancements, e.g. robots, animal heads) (5)
  • A means of displaying a user's personal gaming history (5)
  • Hall of Fame/trophy display (5)
We know we weren't invited to join the beta, but we've rated these ourselves anyway (the number in the brackets after each list item). We hope that Sony will eventually add all of these features to Home and that this is just a means of choosing which to work on first. The open beta is due to open sometime this month and this looks very much to us like Sony is attempting to get the final opinions of the closed beta players before the influx of new users occurs. Hopefully within the next week or so.

[Thanks Hunter!]

Continue reading Home beta test survey gives info on possible expansions

Games to be launched from within Home


At the Sony Press Conference today at E3, Phil Harrison demonstrated a feature that is new to Home. PS3 games will be able to be launched directly from inside Home, from both a Blu-Ray disc and from the hard drive. Reminding us that the feature we have been asking for for a while, Harrison stepped into a room with eleven other people in the virtual world. He then proceeded to invite them all into a game of Motorstorm, which booted straight from Home's PSP menu system into the multiplayer lobby, with all the people he invited ready to start.

After crashing out, Harrison decided that he'd played enough Motorstorm for now and quit the game straight back into Home. This is a feature we're very excited about and we cannot wait to take full advantage of it once the open beta hits within the next couple of months.

No dressing up allowed in PS3's Home


In an effort to keep Home "accessible to everyone," Peter Edwards told Bit-tech.net that there would be limitations on costumes for your avatar. "The idea is to keep it as accessible, mainstream and friendly as possible," says Edwards, the executive producer for Home. "If everyone's walking around dressed as orcs or stormtroopers or whatever, then you lose that welcoming, accessible element that means Mum, Dad and your sister might get involved as well." Really? The largest MMO in the world may not have stormtroopers, but they certainly have orcs and other strangely dressed characters and yet, they don't seem to have any problem pulling in over 8 million subscribers. Maybe it's not a fair comparison to Home, but it's a bit of a stretch to think that costumes on avatars would assuredly prevent Home's accessibility for all audiences. If the game was extremely buggy or just plain "not fun," well that would be more of a root cause against its widespread accessibility. At any rate, what do you think? Would Home be more or less accessible with fully customizable avatars?

SGD '07: Home - public spaces screenshots



Alright, so the living spaces shots and the features shots weren't enough for you. You're back for more. Glad to hear it. The screenshots in the gallery below are the real meat of Home. You will find images of the Games Space, the Sports Lobby, the Theatre, the Central Lobby and the Hall of Fame (which I am particularly excited about).

If this collection of images doesn't convince you that Home is going to be entertaining, at least, then I don't think anything will. Here, have a list of things I find interesting/funny:

  • The Theatre looks like good fun, but not without a full screen option. I don't want to have to watch a film on a screen, on my screen. If you get my meaning.
  • The Games Space will be great, if just for those arcade machines. Hopefully new games will constantly be in development for those. Also, I want to meet the cowboy-hat wearing 'NPC'. He looks like a laugh.
  • Poor SCEE-PaulR. 'Follow me', he says. To himself.
  • The Hall of Fame looks excellent. Those three screenshots mean more to me than any others shown at the Sony Gamer's Day.
Go ahead. Look for yourself. I've babbled on too long, already.



SGD '07: Home - living area screenshots



Screenshot-tastic. Six new pics of your Home away from home. These include three of the basic apartment and three of the 'luxury' apartment. What exactly you have to do to get the latter is not yet known. Though it seems that Sony are trying to give the impression that a bigger place means more friends. Look how lonely the bloke looks in his basic apartment (also, notice that he's invested in one of those Hover-Bum implants. Lucky sod). Whilst in the luxury apartment there's a veritable party atmosphere. Look how envious Linda Davis is of the host's giant house. Could this be a bit of subliminal commentary on the state of modern culture? Probably not, they're just screenshots.

With the details regarding how we obtain more furniture or a bigger place unknown, there's still a danger that there'll be some form of micromanaging going on. The question is, will it use Real Money (TM) or some sort of Home currency? I can't see people shelling out to redecorate their virtual house. Well, not most people.

These Home images don't do it for you? We've got more coming later. Keep an eye out!

Gallery: Home - Living

Basic Apartment 1Basic Apartment 2Basic Apartment 3Luxury Apartment 1Luxury Apartment 2

SGD '07: LittleBigPlanet gallery shows off creative talents

Who couldn't fall in love with the cutesy antics of stitched-up ragdolls running around a strange, side-scrolling 3-D world of their own design? We know we have and there's good reason and more proof -- just check out the gallery we've scored for LittleBigPlanet. While we aren't exactly allowed to have any shots of Home go up, let us say that LBP is a fantastic addition to an online experience that is most certainly going to change how people view consoles forever. Are we exaggerating? Let's hope not. We'll see all of you on this game once Home hits in October. We might have some level design contests, too ... Until then, check out a video after the cut.

Gallery: LittleBigPlanet

Continue reading SGD '07: LittleBigPlanet gallery shows off creative talents

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