At his keynote at Game Developers Conference, 'Game 3.0', Sony executive Phil Harrison themed his talk specifically around the subjects of "audience participation and emergent gameplay", revealing a host of new PlayStation 3 features to help community.
Harrison started by discussing the concept of Web 2.0, referencing sites such as Flickr and YouTube, and explaining the predecessors of the 'Game 3.0' concept. He started with Game 1.0, where the entirety of the game content was contained within the disc or cartridge. Game 2.0 was a connected console or PC, but with static content on the disc.
Finally, we get to Game 3.0, and Harrison explained: "This is our suggestion... it's all about social interaction, it's about content creation." Harrison then announced Home, a software service launching for PlayStation 3 "later this year", and to be added to the Xross Media Bar.
Home is a PS3-specific online world with clothing and avatar customization - a "3D social networking service" in which you can "express yourself and your personality". Harrison demonstrated the ability to customize the face and clothes. There's dynamic advertising being shown in the world - in the example, for Resistance: Fall Of Man, as well as HD-quality video.
There are also other avatars in the world, representing other players, and you can chat to them using preset phrases, a virtual keyboard, and even voice chat. There is also a game room in the service which has virtual bowling, virtual pool, and custom arcade machines which you can play in the world.
Harrison then showed the ability to customize your personal room, with customization of wallpapers, furniture, and so on and so forth - the furniture is also physics-based so can be piled up. Some of the accessories will be free, and some will be pay-to-buy - premium items include pool tables, high-end furniture, and so on.
You can also mount picture frames, and embed pictures and video in the frames or televisions in your virtual space. Home will also include a cinema section - with trailers for existing movies and a deal with Sony-owned Grouper.com for user-created content.
Harrison then showed a number of different locations from major publishers and other media companies - showing a sample sports area with a 3D location including mini-games, trailers, and other informational and promotional areas - all utilizing a developer's in-game assets.
Finally, the exec showed the Hall Of Fame - somewhere where you can customize a virtual environment with 3D trophies to show your in-game achievements - and then show them to your friends. A massive cavern of possible PlayStation 3 trophy areas representing the entire library of PlayStation 3 titles was also shown.
Harrison concluded by explaining that the Home service is free to download and use, with public and private spaces for every users, and the large-scale Beta Trial begins in April 2007. The service is expected to launch in the Fall of 2007 exclusively for the PlayStation 3.
Next, Harrison showed off SingStar for PlayStation 3, explaining that each player has their own profile with comments on your performances - with sharable and rankable/rate-able videos of your best performances. The Sony exec noted that background downloading of network-available was in effect for the SingStar demo, laughingly commenting that it was a "good feature". The game will debut in May-June 2007 in European territories, and later this year in North America.
The exec then noted a forthcoming GDC lecture about PlayStation Edge set of tools, including GCM Replay, a powerful RSX-profiling tool for the PS3 graphics chip, and highly optimized libraries for SPU geometry processing, animation, and compression.
The final announcement is for LittleBigPlanet, the new Media Molecule-created game from the creators of Rag Doll Kung Fu. It's a customizable multiplayer environment with physics, a sandbox environment where you can make "tactile and highly interactive environments".
When levels are created for the visually attractive, cartoony game, they use realistic physics systems for many of the puzzles, and completely customizable levels can be created and shared over the PlayStation 3 network. Four players can team up to get through the levels at once, which all involve levers, gravity, and other physics to great effect. The game will be debuting on the PlayStation Network later this year, and on Blu-ray Disc in early 2008.