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fiercetiger224
Apr 4, 2007, 08:09 PM
Welcome, Home
13:30, Apr 3rd 2007 by Michael French
SPECIAL REPORT: The story behind Sony's work to build a new virtual Home for gamers – and how developers can contribute.
The overall positive response to Home, Sony's new 3D virtual world front-end for the PS, at last month's GDC must come as something of a relief to the SCEE.

The result of two years' hard work and secret investigations into online experiences, it is a project whose foundations have been carefully built to not only withstand the inevitable upswing in PlayStation 3 users (the machine already has over 2m owners around the globe), but remain flexible enough to cope with ongoing changes and added content and input from third party developers and publishers.

Like with any plan, however, Sony refined its idea until it had a final blueprint. The service originally started out as a PS2 prototype for an online lobby called Hub.

"The brief was to investigate an online lobby, a place where gamers could meet, interact and play social games," explains Jonathan Venables, lead artist on the project in an opinion piece written exclusively for the next issue of Develop.

He previously worked on The Getaway Black Monday and moved to the Hub team as that game finished. The first thing he and the rest of the team realised was that most online lobbies awere discriminatory rather than inclusive. Says Venables: "For many, the then online gaming experience was unfriendly. Usually after battling with a text-heavy lobby you eventually log in... and get shot in the face."

"Some thing more accessible and elegant was needed."

HOME SWEET HOME
Prototyping and the small size of the Hub/Home team proved key to getting close the elegant solution that was debuted at GDC last month, however - a mix 'n' match build strategy that mirrors the service's technical base. While the bulk of the client and design work was done in London, UK at Sony's London Studio, it uses shared online technology devised by Sony Japan, SCEA and Sony Online Entertainment.

Explains Venables: "The PS2 prototype phase was a frenetic but creative period. Looking back at my early art schedules I am amazed how diverse the work and versatile the team had to be. Being a small team meant we that we were able to respond in an agile manner to new design concepts and could quickly prototype and present ideas fortnightly."

But as fortnights turned into months, it soon became apparent that Sony's ambitions were bigger than the PS2. It's also probable that, as the activity behind that machine started to wane as PS3 began to cast its shadow, that Hub would make more sense as part of the PlayStation 3's free online service.

Explains Venables: “As time passed we gained momentum and team morale grew as did belief in the product.

"After the first PS3 devkits turned up we started to repeat our work in this exciting next-gen environment and a whole new bunch of challenges arose. With perseverance, the momentum generated from the prototype phase continued, the team grew as did the concept, design and associated expectations of Home."

Certainly, the service has far more potential starting on PS3, says Sony's Worldwide Studio president Phil Harrison.

"We always had our vision for it being a very rich 3D immersive world - that was always the vision from day one," Harrison told Develop at GDC.

"But when we moved to PS3 we were able to realise a much richer more sophisticated more immersive experience with new channels coming in from video, audio, 3D animation and so on."

The result has meant users can use the PS3 to stream their own media into their virtual spaces and also visit locations potentially hosted by third party games companies and movie studios with streaming video. A 3D platform for Home, rather than Hub's 2D one, means assets can be natively exported from games built using Maya and incorporated straight into the service when it comes to developers and publishers building their own spaces.

SECOND LIVE
As was explained at GDC, Home ties heavily into Sony's wider Game 3.0 philosophy, which is encouraging the industry to think about how to keep games relevant in an age dominated by the likes of MySpace, Amazon and Google.

"Home is a pretty big step in that area," says Harrison. "It demonstrates something we've talked about a lot but not been allowed to crystallise in an example yet."

Prior to the Home announcement (and before the pre-GDC leak that detailed Home - "I'm surprised we kept it secret for so long," says Harrison) the SCE WS president had said that Sony would trump Nintendo's Mii player avatars and had told journalists that the growing influence of non-game virtual worlds like Second Life, which emphasises social interaction over gameplay was something Sony was closely monitoring.

"What we have talked about a lot is constant improvement - we will always add different functionalities through software updates and software applications," he adds, explaining that Sony' new service will continue to evolve and add features as more users sign on and more media companies, games developer and brand-holders take part.

And what of the inevitable comparison to Second Life, and the clear distinction to give a 3D representation to Trophies, Sony's own Xbox Live-like achievements?

Harrison says that relating Home to what already exists is only a secondary concern to the main priority: creating something worthwhile and engaging: "It wasn't a conscious decision to differentiate from other online experiences we just new where we were headed and as we grew we were able to add much more immersive content as well."

The important thing, says Harrison, is how, ultimately, the creation of Home is not purely a Sony endeavour - it's something gamers and developers will contribute to the building of.

And those contributions will in turn rack up cash. SCEDEV’s official documentation for the service says that while the primary function of Home is a social environment “there will be ample opportunities for business and individuals alike to generate significant revenues” from advertising, content purchases and auctions.

But the priority is still on the community and interaction that this activity by other companies will give rise to, says Harrison.

"By extending the community into the game application itself and empowering users... that will extend the life cycle of games and will extend the relationship the player has with the game. It also brings game designers and the game audience closer together - that relationship is quite compelling. The trend of user-created or developer-created content inside Home, having a space where a developer can preview new character designs and have the audience vote on them - that kind of engagement between audience and developers is really interesting.

"It's not just developers, either - it's retailers, publishers - anyone."

Home is "just good for everybody" he concludes.

http://www.developmag.com/news/26393/Welcome-Home

Very interesting. Keep up the good work Sony! Now really, imagine Home on the PS2 :p It woulda sucked big time. Good thing they put it on the PS3! :D

Sky Blue
Apr 4, 2007, 09:36 PM
"Hey, that Mii thing and that Xbox acheivements thing look pretty cool. Why don't we have something like that?"

"Dunno, wanna rip it off"

"yeah, ok"

zap2
Apr 4, 2007, 09:39 PM
"Hey, that Mii thing and that Xbox acheivements thing look pretty cool. Why don't we have something like that?"

"Dunno, wanna rip it off"

"yeah, ok"

But Home (then named Hub) started out on the PS2....therefor Wii and Xbox 360 coppied from PS3...duh :rolleyes:



Hub, might have been started on the PS2, but to say Xbox live and Miis didn't infulence it would be foolish

Dagless
Apr 4, 2007, 10:21 PM
It's interesting to see how old some of these ideas are. Mii's dating back to the N64, Home as Hub.

No lines to read between. It's just a little factiod.

Chone
Apr 4, 2007, 10:40 PM
I'll never understand this part of human psychology.

Why is it so damn wrong to improve on something based on the improvements your competitors and/or friends have already achieved?

IT ONLY MAKES SOMETHING BETTER!

That is what mankind has been doing since it first started existing and the reason why the hell we keep advancing because we don't have to think and invent everything over and over again. Yet people keep on whining and yelling rip-off any chance they get.

zap2
Apr 4, 2007, 10:43 PM
I'll never understand this part of human psychology.

Why is it so damn wrong to improve on something based on the improvements your competitors and/or friends have already achieved?

IT ONLY MAKES SOMETHING BETTER!

That is what mankind has been doing since it first started existing and the reason why the hell we keep advancing because we don't have to think and invent everything over and over again. Yet people keep on whining and yelling rip-off any chance they get.


Its not...but I like to buy innovative products. Copying prodcuts might be ok now, but what happens what the people innovating come out with something else new? They the copiers need to start copying again.

madmax_2069
Apr 4, 2007, 10:48 PM
if you look on it the first real online game play was from X-Band which came out for the SNES, SG i cant remember if for any other system. also the atari Jag had online play. SEGA with the saturn was one of the systems you had real online play with, and could surf the net with a adapter, i know a few people that still use it today. you can go farther back to older systems but it wasn't the same thing. you can look at the way other people built on there online play ability as a whole really. just that each one does it differently

2nyRiggz
Apr 4, 2007, 11:34 PM
but I like to buy innovative products.

I like to buy products that work and maximize my experience...which ever company can pull it off I'm happy:)



Bless

ZorPrime
Apr 5, 2007, 02:12 AM
I'll never understand this part of human psychology.

Why is it so damn wrong to improve on something based on the improvements your competitors and/or friends have already achieved?

IT ONLY MAKES SOMETHING BETTER!

That is what mankind has been doing since it first started existing and the reason why the hell we keep advancing because we don't have to think and invent everything over and over again. Yet people keep on whining and yelling rip-off any chance they get.

Great point, seeing what your competitors are doing and improving on ubiquitous concepts is not a rip-off. If companies had that mentality we wouldn't have the iPhone because smart phones already exist, or iPod because portable music players already exist, and we wouldn't have GUI PCs because Xerox had the window and mouse interface first... can't be copy cats... fair competition is good. :cool:

pcypert
Apr 5, 2007, 05:08 AM
Some would whine no matter what. They'd be saying how does this compare to achievement or Mii's if that wasn't included on the other end of things too.

NO company completely innovates. Sorry, just doesn't happen anymore. Nintendo gets ideas from competition too...

All are working towards doing the best product they can given their resources and what they currently know/are capable of...end of story. At least we have a vision for what the PS3 one will be...what's the Wii one past the Mii's? How does it tie into games. We're still waiting. Maybe something better, maybe a 360 rip off when all is said and done...

Paul

Suture
Apr 5, 2007, 06:50 AM
I actually just saw a video about this on a friend's PS3. I think if Sony doesn't try to gouge the customers/PS3 owners too badly with the items for customizing yourself and your virtual house/space, then it could be the next big thing like MySpace.

With that being said, I have a feeling I'll be picking up a PS3 in the future for Blu-Ray movie duties. I have an HD DVD player and the future is starting to look grim.

Haoshiro
Apr 5, 2007, 07:03 AM
Still don't see this as something I'd really want or use personally...

Then again, I've never really been a part of the "majority", so maybe the "average consumer" will love this.

Problem is, it's not a game... it's a Lobby... that alone hurts it for the casual user I think. But hey, it's true... MySpace has worked and worked well, who's to say a 3D community website won't work? Just because CyberCities bombed doesn't mean something new in this generation like it wouldn't succeed, eh?

Time will tell... but it's obvious that for the people who like it, it'll should be great.

Dagless
Apr 5, 2007, 07:39 AM
then it could be the next big thing like MySpace.

I doubt it will ever be as big as Myspace. That name is synonymous with online communities. The Playstation brand isn't, it's gaming. Shoe horning Second Life and turning a quick to navigate 360 style online menu into a 3D world and charging for clothes isn't going to be a killer. Myspace is free through and through, and works on any PC with a web browser (to which there are uncountable quantities out there).

What's worrying me is the 3D aspect of it. We're still using 2D interfaces because well, they're jolly quick. I trust Sony will make use a non-3D interface too?

Haoshiro
Apr 5, 2007, 07:43 AM
I doubt it will ever be as big as Myspace. That name is synonymous with online communities. The Playstation brand isn't, it's gaming. Shoe horning Second Life and turning a quick to navigate 360 style online menu into a 3D world and charging for clothes isn't going to be a killer. Myspace is free through and through, and works on any PC with a web browser (to which there are uncountable quantities out there).

What's worrying me is the 3D aspect of it. We're still using 2D interfaces because well, they're jolly quick. I trust Sony will make use a non-3D interface too?

Heh, they actually demonstrate some of this in the videos already.

Nice 3D world, and you go to adjust your character (clothes, accessories, etc) and up pops a 2D interface. No, you don't walk into a big closet with your closes on hangers and actually takethem off and put them on... you use a 2D dialog.

So a 3D interface to numerous 2D interfaces.... mmm... nice!

Suture
Apr 5, 2007, 07:53 AM
I am not interested in it either, but I'm sure they'll do something to mess it up.

fiercetiger224
Apr 5, 2007, 08:35 AM
Again, we're saying things about something that isn't even out yet. It's like saying Halo 3 will suck cuz Halo 2 sucked. Get a grip guys. Obviously fanboys like to be fanboys, but be rational once in a while? :rolleyes:

Anyway, I think Home will be awesome, and might be as big as MySpace. We don't know how this will turn out, but we'll just have to wait until August to find out eh? Or wait until E3? :p

Dagless
Apr 5, 2007, 08:56 AM
Nice 3D world, and you go to adjust your character (clothes, accessories, etc) and up pops a 2D interface. No, you don't walk into a big closet with your closes on hangers and actually takethem off and put them on... you use a 2D dialog.

So a 3D interface to numerous 2D interfaces.... mmm... nice!

I'm not on about mixing up 2 kinds of interfaces, I'm on about an option to completely replace the 3D one with a fast 2D one.

fiercetiger224, I never knew you were one of them people who can't talk about something before it comes out. Do you not know how discussion works? It's exactly the same as me criticising the possibility of a Bluetooth iPod because "Bluetooth is slow compared to USB", "Xbox 360 elite sucks because it only has HDMI 1.2"...

fiercetiger224
Apr 5, 2007, 10:44 AM
fiercetiger224, I never knew you were one of them people who can't talk about something before it comes out. Do you not know how discussion works? It's exactly the same as me criticising the possibility of a Bluetooth iPod because "Bluetooth is slow compared to USB", "Xbox 360 elite sucks because it only has HDMI 1.2"...

Your point is somewhat valid, BUT, this is SOFTWARE we're talking about. Things change with software, as opposed to finalized hardware. :rolleyes: I'm getting an Elite 360 when it comes out. :)

sikkinixx
Apr 5, 2007, 11:54 AM
Problem is, it's not a game... it's a Lobby... that alone hurts it for the casual user I think. But hey, it's true... MySpace has worked and worked well, who's to say a 3D community website won't work? Just because CyberCities bombed doesn't mean something new in this generation like it wouldn't succeed, eh?

Time will tell... but it's obvious that for the people who like it, it'll should be great.

Well they have games that are much like games in yahoo.com, pool, bowling im sure they will have crap like poker and all that jazz. So if they do that, then maybe people will see it for more than just a lobby, and while you are waiting for friends or whatever you can waste a half hour playing billiards with some dude form Austrailia.

2nyRiggz
Apr 5, 2007, 11:59 AM
^This is what interest me...it has little games like bowling and the likes to take up the wait time..which would be great(hate waiting) I could care less about the buying stuff because I hardly do it on live and VC..this will be no different.


Bless

ChrisK018
Apr 5, 2007, 12:19 PM
So is this a mixed 2D and 3D world... like Paper Mario?

I'm with the camp that says: improve and make things better no matter who came up with it 'first.'

Nym
Apr 9, 2007, 05:01 AM
Search on google or youtube for the Home preview.

It's FREE for every PS3 user and looks fantastic imo. Just the fact of being free is good enough, and Second Life sucks compared to this (especially graphics).

If it were Nintendo doing this we would have all fanboys drooling and saying "IT'S THE BEST THING EVER".

Go check the preview, be unbiased, it looks pretty damn cool to me.

Actually, I never thought of buying a PS3 until now :)

Dagless
Apr 9, 2007, 05:30 AM
I love it when folk say "if X did it you would like it". Have you ever stood back and realised "hmm, why aren't I navigating Xbox Live or my computer in a 3D environment"... because it's slow and clunky. I wasn't mad keen on Mario Sunshines little menu system (3D), but I loved the ones in Metroid Prime 1&2 (2D). Though I'd love for you to disprove that 3D menus are more efficient and usable than a 2D one.

Nym
Apr 9, 2007, 08:21 AM
I only said it "looks cool", I never said that 3d interface's were more usable and powerful than 2d ones... this "out-of-nowhere" flaming it's part of what I was talking about. If everyone differs from you then "there has to be something wrong with them".

In fact, "why 3d interfaces???", I ask.. why not?

Dagless
Apr 9, 2007, 08:25 AM
this "out-of-nowhere" flaming it's part of what I was talking about. If everyone differs from you then "there has to be something wrong with them".

If it were Nintendo doing this we would have all fanboys drooling and saying "IT'S THE BEST THING EVER".

Yea, out of nowhere :rolleyes:
If you're going to act like that and generalise then expect my kind of response.

In fact, "why 3d interfaces???", I ask.. why not?
For the reasons already stated why 3D interfaces don't work :D repeat loop.

Nym
Apr 9, 2007, 10:41 AM
Geez, see how you take it personal and automatically defend your brand? What's the big deal? I mentioned Nintendo because here at MacRumors it's the most prefered console brand, or is that a lie?

I was just making an example and FWIW it's my opinion, you don't need to take it personally. Now don't tell me that there aren´t a lot of topics here about certain brands which people automatically say "that sucks" even if they haven't tried it. (Ex: Apple products Vs Dell products, iPod Vs Zune, Tiger Vs Vista, Nintendo Vs Ps3, and so on...)

I like different products from different companies, I don't advocate one, even Mac Vs PC I always ask "what do you want to do with it?" before saying "GET A MBP!" just because that'd be my choice.

Anyway, 3d interfaces are coming, and I bet that 10 years from now you won't be able to live without them :)

Dagless
Apr 9, 2007, 10:51 AM
Hold up, who's "defending a brand"? You generalised and took a pop at that group of people by putting words in their mouth. I only referred to Nintendo in that they have experimented with 3D menu's in the past? your saying I'm defending a brand? WTF.

Nym
Apr 9, 2007, 11:06 AM
I was making an example...

Ok, I'll rephrase:

" If it were Microsoft doing this we would have all fanboys drooling and saying "IT'S THE BEST THING EVER"."

Now honestly, didn't you noticed it was an example? Do you realise how Sony (for example, one more time) is completely bashed in these forums just by having Sony in the name?


I told the truth, from what I've read in 6 months browsing and posting on these forums everytime the "favorite brands" are put on the spot a bunch of people appear and start flaming others for having different opinions.


To sum it up, I'll wait to see what PS3's Home will be, I won't throw it in the trash can before really seeing it, hence saying "It looks pretty cool to me".

And IMO 3D GUI's can be done correctly and sucessfully, who will be the first to implement it? who knows?

fiercetiger224
Apr 9, 2007, 01:54 PM
I was making an example...

Ok, I'll rephrase:

" If it were Microsoft doing this we would have all fanboys drooling and saying "IT'S THE BEST THING EVER"."

Now honestly, didn't you noticed it was an example? Do you realise how Sony (for example, one more time) is completely bashed in these forums just by having Sony in the name?


I told the truth, from what I've read in 6 months browsing and posting on these forums everytime the "favorite brands" are put on the spot a bunch of people appear and start flaming others for having different opinions.


To sum it up, I'll wait to see what PS3's Home will be, I won't throw it in the trash can before really seeing it, hence saying "It looks pretty cool to me".

And IMO 3D GUI's can be done correctly and sucessfully, who will be the first to implement it? who knows?

I agree with you completely. People just like to feed so much FUD with Sony threads. :rolleyes:

Anyway, I really think that Sony can pull off a great 3D interface. If they're the first to do it, then I don't think they'd wanna screw it up. Just as long as it's clean and elegant, it'll be great. Hopefully it'll be Apple-ish. :cool: And I'm sure Apple is coming up with a 3D interface as well. Home is going to be awesome. :D

Dagless
Apr 9, 2007, 02:32 PM
And IMO 3D GUI's can be done correctly and sucessfully, who will be the first to implement it? who knows?

Alright, 2 years of interface design lectures (Bs and Ma level) and frequent readings on Dr. Nielsen say that a 3D interface should never be used where a 2D one would suffice. That's nothing to do with polygons or textures, it's all down to presentation, access speeds and manipulation of data.

But what do they know, et looks ossums! :cool: I'm sorry if people who have actually studied in this area can't get excited about it ;)
So I suppose the answer is - people who have studied it know.

zelmo
Apr 9, 2007, 03:00 PM
Occam's Razor FTW!
If a 2D interface is the simplest, most elegant solution to the problem, then it is the best. Perhaps there is an application for which a 3D interface is the simplest solution, where a 2D interface just does not seem as intuitive for the needs of the interface? I can't describe a specific case where this would be true, but someday I imagine it could [and probably will] be.

Of course, the Home interface doesn't have to be the simplest it can be, as long as it is easy enough to navigate and trades ease of use for a certain amount of fun, it may be just fine.

zap2
Apr 9, 2007, 03:14 PM
( Nintendo Vs Ps3, and so on...)


Nintendo=Company, PS3=Gaming system...so really 2 things I'd compare, the Wii, now there something to compare to the PS3 :p



Anyway, 3d interfaces are coming, and I bet that 10 years from now you won't be able to live without them :)
I really doubt that in 10 years, 3D will have taken over 2D in everyway...unless input devices change ALOT. 2D is just faster, until that changes I'll keep using 2D stuff

Nym
Apr 9, 2007, 03:25 PM
Nintendo=Company, PS3=Gaming system...so really 2 things I'd compare, the Wii, now there something to compare to the PS3 :p

Ahah, nice catch, I re-read the reply and still didn't notice that :D

Anyway, I know that GUI's have a lot to evolve so I guess I'm just optimistic, maybe in 10 years we'll comment on that here.

I only say that because if you think it right, in 1997 (10 years ago) look where technology was and compare to what we have nowadays, the growth rate is really crazy. I guess nothing is impossible. :rolleyes:

But the thing which this thread is all about is PS3 Home, if you haven't already, check out the preview on youtube or something, it doesn't show a 3D GUI nor anything brand new, basically it's Sims with much better graphics and a hell lot of features to communicate, share content and play games with other PS3 users.

Anyway, it looks like a nice concept, we'll just have to see how much Sony will cripple the functionalities :)

One day I'll go nuts and buy the 3 consoles y'know? get it over with? :eek:

EDIT:

...a 3D interface should never be used where a 2D one would suffice...

I completely agree!

I work as a multimedia designer so I understand that nowadays a 3D interface would be excessive and obtrusive for most applications.
But I don't know, I've already been surprised by certain products (in terms of GUI, the iPhone for example, which already introduces some 3D elements), so I'm just waiting for some design team to blow my mind with a well done 3D interface :)