GDC 2007: Phil Harrison keynote

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Unfortunately we weren’t able to live blog the Phil Harrison keynote address, so I’ve been relegated to just reporting the aftermath and what occurred to you here.

Before you hit the jump and see what happened, let me say this bit of editorial coming from a very objective standpoint: This is huge. This is what will make the PlayStation 3 worth owning. In one year, Sony could take down Second Life, Miis, and Microsoft’s XNA program. This is what Sony should have launched with, but is it too late? I don’t think so.

I’m going to make this as easy to read as possible by using a series of bullet points to convey everything that was said. But, the big thing for Sony now is the term “Game 3.0.” They use the term as a way of describing today’s gaming culture and what is possible, a world where we’re all connected and sharing content, etc. Here we go:

• Defining Game 3.0: It is about the connected device, with dynamic content and active connected communities, open standards Social, content creation, collaboration, and customization. Sony is not trying to claim Game 3.0 as a trademark, it’s just how they like to think about it. To them, it’s all about community, about cooperation, and being powered by the audience who is at the center of the entertainment experience.

• home: home is basically like the Second Life and Mii killer all in one big package. You will be able to customize yourself and environment fully in a well-detailed 3D environment. There is voice chat support as well as preset expressions and sayings.

• home: It will launch later this year and be located as a new icon on the PS3 cross media bar. You will “launch home,” Press X to connect, sign in and then thrown into the online world. When you land, you go in “central lounge.” You can bring up a virtual PSP and use it for various functions within home.

• home customization: PS3 games will unlock content specific to your character. home is a 3D community that is a social networking service where you can express yourself the way you want.

• home: Dynamic advertising will be pushed into the space. Banner ads are actual banners. HD-quality video can be streamed inside space — ads, game trailers, etc.

• home public spaces: There is a games lounge — basically a low intesity environment where you can play easy and simple multiplayer games. Also have trailers streamed in throughout with sound you can walk up to that changes in volume as you get closer or further away. Can walk up and play pool, there’s a virtual bowling alley and they have embeded arcade game cabinets — you can download arcade games in them and they show up as virtual arcade machines.  

• home: You can quick travel with virtual PSP which will include a world map feature. Everyone at home has their own private apartment that you will be able trick out. There are different wallpapers that will be available — can have game-branded wallpaper as well. You can have your own clan club room and download additional furniture — free or premium items or linked to a game.

• home: The furniture in home is physics based — can pile all on top of each other if you want. Can display any content on your PS3 hard drive and put up in the apartment and anyone can go in your room and see that. You will be able to walk up to a picture frame and grab a picture or video from your memory stick and display it to anyone in the room.

• home: You will really be able to pimp out your house/apt. You can put premium items in the space, like a pool table. You’ll be able to have a deck and have a full-scale party. Music can be streamed to other users, as well as video.

• home Cinema: There will be content available from different TV and movie studios and users themselves. There will be user selected spaces where you can see different trailers, etc., and everything will update with the latest content available. Sony is working with to bring in user content. Users will be able to access TV shows just by walking in the door of your choice. You can even walk in with friends and chat about it.

• home sports Lounge: For developers, Sony is saying it’s very simple to build. Devs can reuse content for their own games. Users can go into sub rooms with mini games — they showed a driving range, 3-point shootout. Speaking to devs, Harrison says it will be really easy and simple and powerful to bring community to the dev’s game brands.

• home Hall of Fame: This is a brand new experience for PS Network — think Xbox 360 achievement system but on a grander scale. You can customize your physical environment and view trophies you got based on achievements in a game. You can invite a friend into the trophy room — keep in mind trophies are in full 3D and unique to the game/achievement. Trophies can even animate. (Loco Roco was shown, hasn’t been announced). But, it’s not just about the games you own, but the entire network and seeing what other people have done — room looks like the Star Wars council hall.

• Final details of home: Unique, real-time 3d community for the PS Network; free to download and use; avatar based community; public and private space; infinitely customizable; in future, have pets more sophisticated clothing; large scale beta begins April 2007, service launches Fall 2007.

• SingStar: Harrison says this embodies the game 3.0 experience — SingStore, SingStar Live. There will be weekly contests and you’ll have a “my SingStar Online” profile.

• SingStar: You can see what friends are singing and how people have commented on your performances. You will be able to go to the Sing store and download songs you want to sing — even stream video previews through server. Tracks you buy will download in the background. With “My media gallery,” you can record your performances with Eye Toy and share them with people on the PS Network with SingStar.

• SingStar: Coming out in May/June in PAL, later this year in U.S. Sony wants to work closely with record industry to expand the song list.

• PlayStation Edge: Sony is sharing core tool and technology with all PS3 devs with respect to the game they are making. It will cover two key areas: GCM Replay (profiling tool that works with chip inside PS3) and SPU Geometry processing, animation, compression. Info will be shared via dev network. 

• LittleBigPlanet: The guys that made Rag Doll Kung Fu are making this game. They have formed a development company called Media Molecule.

• LittleBigPlanet: The main “character” is a little stuffed animal, cutesy guy with a zipper up the front. The makers say this “game” is about empowering players to make whatever they want to do.

• LittleBigPlanet: Players will start with Sack Boy, as he is called. You can control his hands with analog sticks and do other functions with the controller — even SIXAXIS functions. There is a cross media bar-type user interface when making things. You will be able to customize your character and environment fully with everything being made of real world materials. It’s not just about placing objects, you can change the look of anything you make.

• LittleBigPlanet: Players can invite other players into their creation and that player can change your world as well. Everything happens in real time with the physics engine. The game plays on your own and communal creativity — they say this is a big part of Game 3.0. The simple and creative tools will allow users to make tactile and highly-interactive environments — the big point being, you can make a whole game.

• LittleBigPlanet: As I said, you can bring other players in to play your game. You can grab each other or grab objects in the world and interact with them — even smack around our buddy a little. The game looks very very polished and is simply amazing. There is no scripting involved and the whole thing is made with simple tools and that are just having fun with physics.

• LittleBigPlanet: Everything in the game you create and lay out. You can have jet packs, and other cool stuff that was displayed across the playable level they showed. The game supports dynamic lighting throughout the world — it’s just simply amazing.

• LittleBigPlanet: You can vandalize and change other people’s or your own level as you are inside and “playing” a friends game/environment. After you have created your masterpiece, you can share it with everyone around the world. The world menu will show how many have played your game, you’ll get comments, messages, and can see highest rated lists. You will also be able to download other people’s games. It’s all very unreal and quite impressive.

• LittleBigWorld: It comes later this year to download on the PS Network and Blu-ray disc in 2008.

In closing, this was huge for Sony. This could be the first, real turning point for the PS3. You may not believe me, but when you see just what can be done with home and LittleBigWorld, you will be sold on what is possible with the PS3. 

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