Talking to Cliph on IM about the PlayStation 3, we touched on the ideas of how the social space in Home will be filtered. For example, in the public area, people can talk to each other using a keyboard, the built-in phrases (“Would you like to play a game?”) or via a Bluetooth headset. It’s likely that there will be a bunch of ‘banned’ words for those using the keyboard input, but will there be any restrictions on what can be said via a headset? Is there anything to stop me turning the virtual air blue with obscenities?
Sony have said that in the private space, there will be few restrictions. You will be able to decorate your ‘room’ with whatever images you have on your PlayStation 3’s hard drive. You can stream whatever movies and sound files on your PlayStation 3’s hard drive and everyone visiting your room will be able to see and hear these files. I’m willing to bet that without restrictions, there will be a thriving red-light market in Sony’s Home faster than you can say “WELCOME TO JOHN’S COCK PALACE.”
But let’s go even further. By taking the possible sexual underworld of Home and combining it with Sony’s own USB Trance Vibrator (released with ‘Rez’ on the PlayStation 2), we could be witnessing an evolution and mass-marketization of teledildonics.
Pitched as somewhere between Second Life and MySpace, it’s a social space where PlayStation 3 owners can meet PlayStation 3 owners. They do this by navigating an avatar (similar to Nintendo’s Mii, but more realistic and with more customization options) around a 3D world. Each user also gets a private space – a virtual apartment – which they can customize as they see fit. They can invite people into this private space and launch multiplayer games, or stream music and videos from their PlayStation 3 to the other people in this room. Sony’s Home includes a virtual ‘trophy room’ where people can display their ‘entitlements’ (Sony’s answer to Xbox 360’s achievements) as moving, 3D trophies.
Oh, and it’s all free.
This was Sony’s ace in the hole. A completely unexpected, beautifully executed masterstroke that almost makes you forget about all of Sony’s fuck-ups with PlayStation 3.
Right now, Sony is still talking about the possibilities of Home, and although a lot of these are still pretty blue-sky suggestions, they do give you some idea of what an online virtual world is capable of when you’ve got the weight and muscle of the entire Sony Corporation behind it. For example, using its ability to stream high-def movies, there could be movie premieres (in a virtual cinema) of Sony Pictures movies within Home. And for the MySpazz crowd, there’s the possibility of in-game appearances by their favourite Sony BMG bands.
I bet the makers of Second Life won’t get much sleep tonight.
No updates because I’ve been too busy rocking out on Guitar Hero (which got its proper release today – hurry!)
Once I’ve played through a game, I rarely go back and play it again, unless it offers a significantly different experience the second time around. For example, when you finish Shadow of the Colossus, it unlocks a “hard” mode. Balls to that. I’ve got an ever-increasing list of games I have to play and an ever-decreasing amount of time to play them in. And especially not when it took a monumental effort to stop myself from smashing the controller to smithereens even on the “normal” difficulty.
Guitar Hero is so perfectly balanced, I can’t help myself. I’ve worked through “easy” and “medium” and now I’m halfway through “difficult.” Why? Because, unlike most games where luck has as much to do with your progress as actual skill, I can actually see myself getting better at Guitar Hero. When I first started playing through the game on “medium”, I thought it might be fun to see what “I Wanna Be Sedated” was like on “expert” difficulty. I found out: Scary. I was booed off stage before I’d even reached the first verse. Now that medium is a long-distant memory and “difficult” is making me its bitch, I went back to “I Wanna Be Sedated” on expert. And y’know what? I finished it. On my third attempt. But I finished it.
To make matters worse, I’m finding myself replaying songs on “easy” (and “Medium”), just so I can fill the scoreboard up with top marks.
The last time a game hooked me like this — improving my skill and beating my own scores, just for the fun of it — was Super Mario Kart on the SNES. An odd comparison, to be sure, but one that makes me happy. I really didn’t think people made games like this any more. Fun little games with no real narrative depth that can consume hours and still have you coming back for more.
One other thing I’ve noticed… playing this game has strengthened up my baby finger no end. It was always the runt of my fingers and even when I played normal guitar with it, it never really did what I wanted to when I wanted it to. Now, it’s kicking my other fingers’ asses. So, bonus!