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Open House

Now that the PlayStation Home beta has opened up to the general public, we take a look at what this curious addition to the PlayStation 3.

Too many couches!
As was reported yesterday, Sony has opened up the beta test for PlayStation Home to all PS3 users today. I participated in the heavily embargoed closed beta for Home, so I was curious to see what Sony would be showing to the general public. What I found seemed surprisingly close to what Sony has been promising since Home's unveiling at GDC 2007. You can build your own custom avatar, furnish your own virtual apartment, chat and play social games with other users, and of course, get slapped silly with marketing messages. I suppose with this being day one of the open beta, a little slack should be cut, but after an hour or so spent browsing the microtransaction-based mall, waiting in line at the bowling alley to play with virtual arcade machines, and staring at various billboards and video screens promoting the movie Twilight, I didn't feel particularly compelled to go back to Home.

Home is basically presented as a very clean, very modern entertainment complex. The core locations are your apartment, a movie theater, a bowling alley, a mall, and a large, open courtyard that connects them all. There are also a few themed locations that exist separate from this virtual gated community, which currently include a bar themed around Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and a dilapidated train station for Far Cry 2. Though it can take a while for everyone's avatar to load whenever you first arrive at a new location, leaving you with a bunch of kinda-creepy translucent ghost avatars, Home has a sharp, clean look to it. People like to say that Home looks like Second Life, which is admittedly fun to say, but it doesn't really hold water. Home is a much smaller, detailed, and tightly structured virtual world. And in Second Life, there's actually stuff to do.

More than the mall that sells virtual cowboy hats for 49 cents or the conspicuous advertising, the biggest immediately apparent problem for Home is that there simply isn't a whole lot to do. In any one location, there's usually only a handful of objects you can interact with. The central plaza features a game where you guide a remote control flying saucer over a small pond, avoiding mines and collecting stars, as well as a communal jukebox stocked with a handful of licensed songs. Go into the single-screen theater, and you'll be treated to a trailer for the movie Twilight, followed by a Paramore music video that, coincidentally, is from the Twilight soundtrack. I guess Sony is anticipating plenty of self-mutilating teenage girls to use Home. Which could be a reason for some to keep using Home, I guess.

Which button do I press to put up a quarter?
The bowling alley is the most action-packed location I've seen in Home so far, with its pool tables, arcade machines, and bowling lanes. One of the small choices in Home that I find stupefying is the fact that the arcade games allow only one player at a time, which means you have to wait your turn if you want to play a light version of Echochrome, or a really crummy Breakout knockoff. You can argue that Home might benefit from trying to emulate some specific details of real life, which is actually a little true for the player limits on the pool tables and the bowling lanes. The truth is that waiting in line to play a game at an arcade sucks. Waiting in line to play a game at an arcade that exists inside of your cutting-edge video game machine is top-shelf lunacy.

But, if growing up in the sticks taught me anything, it's that there's nothing that bored kids like more than causing trouble and generally being disruptive. Here are a few choice excerpts from an IM conversation I'm having with Jeff about his Home experience to prove my point.

Jeff (10:07): I've decided that Home is the greatest thing to happen to the PS3 ever.

Jeff (10:08): Me and five or six other dudes who knew who I am have taken over the arcade and are bullying people into dancing. And text chatting about Gears of War 2 as we do so.

Jeff (10:10): Also, bubble machines.

Jeff (10:28): We are up to eight dancers now! WE WILL NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER

Jeff (10:39): I am now down to a posse of five hardcore dancers.

Jeff (10:41): Giancarlo has joined this savage dance fiesta. We are UNSTOPPABLE.

I find this wall to be...inadequate.
This probably isn't Home's fault, and maybe this just speaks to the type of easily amused jerk I am, but the most fun I've had with Home so far has been running around and triggering the disapproving double thumbs-down animation at stuff I don't like, which brings me to the point of communication in Home. In a way, Home is just a big, fancy chat room. You can hang out in the public lobbies and just shout at whoever, you can invite some people back to your place for some more exclusive socializing, or you can create and join clubs with like-minded individuals. Like clothing for your avatar and higher-end living quarters, clubs are a premium part of Home. It'll cost you $4.99 to start your own club, and there will be upkeep fees down the road as well.

Home supports headsets and keyboards, and also features a pop-up menu full of canned phrases, so there's plenty of options for how you communicate. In my brief experience, though, it seemed like very few people had keyboards or headsets, and most of the chatting consisted of slangy text-message abbreviations.

I guess the fact that Home is simply a free add-on for the PS3 makes my criticisms against it a little irrelevant. It's not an essential feature, so if you don't like it, you don't have to use it. But stakes are high for Sony right now, and this seems like an odd way for Sony to add value to its console. I don't think it's entirely without potential, but what's being shown in the open beta looks more like framework than a finished Home.
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Posted by Ryan
Too many couches!
As was reported yesterday, Sony has opened up the beta test for PlayStation Home to all PS3 users today. I participated in the heavily embargoed closed beta for Home, so I was curious to see what Sony would be showing to the general public. What I found seemed surprisingly close to what Sony has been promising since Home's unveiling at GDC 2007. You can build your own custom avatar, furnish your own virtual apartment, chat and play social games with other users, and of course, get slapped silly with marketing messages. I suppose with this being day one of the open beta, a little slack should be cut, but after an hour or so spent browsing the microtransaction-based mall, waiting in line at the bowling alley to play with virtual arcade machines, and staring at various billboards and video screens promoting the movie Twilight, I didn't feel particularly compelled to go back to Home.

Home is basically presented as a very clean, very modern entertainment complex. The core locations are your apartment, a movie theater, a bowling alley, a mall, and a large, open courtyard that connects them all. There are also a few themed locations that exist separate from this virtual gated community, which currently include a bar themed around Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and a dilapidated train station for Far Cry 2. Though it can take a while for everyone's avatar to load whenever you first arrive at a new location, leaving you with a bunch of kinda-creepy translucent ghost avatars, Home has a sharp, clean look to it. People like to say that Home looks like Second Life, which is admittedly fun to say, but it doesn't really hold water. Home is a much smaller, detailed, and tightly structured virtual world. And in Second Life, there's actually stuff to do.

More than the mall that sells virtual cowboy hats for 49 cents or the conspicuous advertising, the biggest immediately apparent problem for Home is that there simply isn't a whole lot to do. In any one location, there's usually only a handful of objects you can interact with. The central plaza features a game where you guide a remote control flying saucer over a small pond, avoiding mines and collecting stars, as well as a communal jukebox stocked with a handful of licensed songs. Go into the single-screen theater, and you'll be treated to a trailer for the movie Twilight, followed by a Paramore music video that, coincidentally, is from the Twilight soundtrack. I guess Sony is anticipating plenty of self-mutilating teenage girls to use Home. Which could be a reason for some to keep using Home, I guess.

Which button do I press to put up a quarter?
The bowling alley is the most action-packed location I've seen in Home so far, with its pool tables, arcade machines, and bowling lanes. One of the small choices in Home that I find stupefying is the fact that the arcade games allow only one player at a time, which means you have to wait your turn if you want to play a light version of Echochrome, or a really crummy Breakout knockoff. You can argue that Home might benefit from trying to emulate some specific details of real life, which is actually a little true for the player limits on the pool tables and the bowling lanes. The truth is that waiting in line to play a game at an arcade sucks. Waiting in line to play a game at an arcade that exists inside of your cutting-edge video game machine is top-shelf lunacy.

But, if growing up in the sticks taught me anything, it's that there's nothing that bored kids like more than causing trouble and generally being disruptive. Here are a few choice excerpts from an IM conversation I'm having with Jeff about his Home experience to prove my point.

Jeff (10:07): I've decided that Home is the greatest thing to happen to the PS3 ever.

Jeff (10:08): Me and five or six other dudes who knew who I am have taken over the arcade and are bullying people into dancing. And text chatting about Gears of War 2 as we do so.

Jeff (10:10): Also, bubble machines.

Jeff (10:28): We are up to eight dancers now! WE WILL NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER

Jeff (10:39): I am now down to a posse of five hardcore dancers.

Jeff (10:41): Giancarlo has joined this savage dance fiesta. We are UNSTOPPABLE.

I find this wall to be...inadequate.
This probably isn't Home's fault, and maybe this just speaks to the type of easily amused jerk I am, but the most fun I've had with Home so far has been running around and triggering the disapproving double thumbs-down animation at stuff I don't like, which brings me to the point of communication in Home. In a way, Home is just a big, fancy chat room. You can hang out in the public lobbies and just shout at whoever, you can invite some people back to your place for some more exclusive socializing, or you can create and join clubs with like-minded individuals. Like clothing for your avatar and higher-end living quarters, clubs are a premium part of Home. It'll cost you $4.99 to start your own club, and there will be upkeep fees down the road as well.

Home supports headsets and keyboards, and also features a pop-up menu full of canned phrases, so there's plenty of options for how you communicate. In my brief experience, though, it seemed like very few people had keyboards or headsets, and most of the chatting consisted of slangy text-message abbreviations.

I guess the fact that Home is simply a free add-on for the PS3 makes my criticisms against it a little irrelevant. It's not an essential feature, so if you don't like it, you don't have to use it. But stakes are high for Sony right now, and this seems like an odd way for Sony to add value to its console. I don't think it's entirely without potential, but what's being shown in the open beta looks more like framework than a finished Home.
Posted by Ockman

Nice to see your impressions of Home so far. Even though it's free, I'm not too crazy about it myself. It just seems like a big waste of time, and xbox's party system makes a little more sense, and streamlines getting together with friends much better than Home could in it's current form.

by the way, first maybe?

Posted by theredace

Yeah, just spent an hour or so in there.  Pretty much just get a kick out of finding the occasional female avatar and doing the running man dance up in her mix.  Hiiiiiiiiiilarious.  And then guess what, not much else to do.

Posted by MrMuise

I'm afraid to go on home, anything that involves me and social interaction usually ends up with me being banned from the building/game/website. I'll go on home using a friend's ps3 though!

Edited by Manachild

LMAO at the jeff text excerpt, he meant it on that podcast around thanks giving with alex and dave when he said that griefer madness was coming to playstation home!

Posted by AspiringAndy

Too many couches!
ROFL.
To be honest I didn't really expect it to be entertaining, I thought that Sony was using it to get money from ad's and to get sales because it looks very different to anything else that the Wii or 360 offers.

Posted by elbow

LOL

You guys should totally, and I mean TOTALLY, make a video out of Jeff organizing his followers and creating mass chaos with his savage dance fiesta!

Edited by Termite

Haha, Jeff is a godly griefer

Posted by Manachild
elbow said:
"LOL

You guys should totally, and I mean TOTALLY, make a video out of Jeff organizing his followers and creating mass chaos with his savage dance fiesta!"
I second this suggestion whole heartedly, nothing can stop the party.
Posted by Rogerjak

Yap, I have gone in to a dancing rampage myself :P

I can't wait for them to release more content tho'.

Posted by m1k3

There should be a GiantBomb Club... i would join in a second

Posted by Meptron

I was looking forward to furnishing my house down to every last detail. Like in Animal X-ing. But it seems Home is a little too microtransaction happy for that to be possible. Unfortunate. Home seems like it could be cool, but it's just not worth spending any money on and without all that stuff it's just no fun.

Posted by Seroth

I request videos of Home griefing.

Edited by YoctoYotta

I dig your furniture arrangement, Ryan. I too opted for the "huge-fucking-pile-of-as-many-couches-as-the-game-would-allow" look. I guess great minds think alike.

Posted by Smallville123

Shame i missed jeff's shenanigans.

Edited by Tearhead

Lol, yea, I was in that whole commotion.  A paragraph in my blog explains. It was awesome!

Posted by ep_driver

sounds lame.

Edited by TheVilrak

I don't like the long loading times between areas, shame they coundn't make it seamless somehow.. plus its a shame people can't meet in the movie theatre so you can see comments from other people about whats showing. 

I don't think its fair to be overly negative now though as its the open Beta, give a few months and if nothign much changes then its justified.  Although for a 2 year wait there seems to be very little added since the initial screenshots.

Posted by MAST

A friend explained it to me like this... Either you are a person that "get's it" or you're not. Either you are in to games like Second Life, The Sims, etc. Or you are not. Albeit, Home is more of a "lite" version of those games atm, which makes it seem worse for people that just don't "get" things like this.
I am one of the people that just does not get it. This seems like a waste of Sony's money, and time. I'm definitely not going to load up Home, just so i can then load up a game, when i could just go straight into the game in the first place. For me personally, everything i need on my PS3 is on my cross-media bar. Home is redundant for me atm.

I guess the cool thing about it is what it could turn into. I've already seen advertisements for things that were not in beta that looked pretty cool. Like the Red Bull stunt pilot area. They've also mentioned a Go-Cart/Mario Kart type area. And who knows if these games will eventually have trophies.

So, Home might turn into something big at some point in the future. I'm sure there are people out there that will buy a PS3 just because of Home. People that are nutty for Sims/Second Life type games. But for people like me, it's just one of those things that is neat for a few minutes, and then you move on...

Posted by JJ

Haven't tried in about 9 hrs but I wasn't able to get past the title screen. It'd disconnect me.

Posted by get2sammyb

I agree with most of what has been said here but honestly, I kinda like it. It's not something I'm going to use for longer than say an hour a week but if they keep it fresh and constantly add new areas it certainly has potential to be worthwhile.

Posted by TonicBH

I just wasted time in there mucking around in the Uncharted and Far Cry 2 spaces playing Mandala with bullet casings and playing some 2D Atari-looking arcade game.

I should hate this. But for some reason I feel indifferent to it all.

Posted by J1M3N7

I have to agree that the party system on NXE takes the main point of home, but without all the pointless crap!!

Posted by Scooper

Whoever bought a PS3 for Home back when it came out is obviusly from a mental institution.

It's looks kind of funny, though.

Posted by fraser

It's taken up some valuble space on my hard drive which is fairly annoying.

I'll wait a while before making any proper decisions about it, as at the moment it's just a bunch of people running into each other

Posted by Rowr

LOL

Angry Dance Party.

Online
Edited by Death_Burnout

Man i think the avatar's just suck, i can't get the guy to look anything like me, nor can i get him to not look like he's got issues, would it hurt him to crack a smile? and the hair and facial hair, oh man dont get me started, i know its an open beta and that stuff is limited and all that but so far, not so good in the avatar department...look at those arms! ok rant over.

As far as everything else is concerned its good, but if they could just make those avatars better...which they wont, it would be awesome.

Posted by TwoOneFive

i like your take on HOME

for me, i will be checkin it out from time to time, as i have a lot of friends who own PS3's and the more games we have together the more gams we will be launching together. 

I guy like you Jeff, who is constantly playing one game to the next, I wouldn't expect you to really feel the need nor the urge to keep coming back to HOME. 
But like you and so many others have said, the beta still feels like a framework. And thats true, its just a beta and I expected no less. So i'm sure this can only get better and it will. 
Hopefully they continue with hosting exclusive events held by different major studios and also big events like virtual E3 2009 etc. That stuff will DEFINITELY be intriguing and fun for many to return to home. 
Edited by RomeoInc

I always thought that Sony should have made Little Big Planet into their "thing" instead of this Home nonsense. Think about it...instead of them being two separate entities they should have just rolled them into one big experience. That would give you a real incentive to actually buy the clothes and junk they're going to want to sell to you, cause what would you rather see? A dude wearing a T-shirt with "Twilight" on it or sack boy running around looking like Rorschach from the new Watchmen movie?

Edited by yellownumber5

I agree Ryan.  Its a 3D chat room. Bottom line, after all this time of development, it seems there are some really odd choices that they made.  That arcade example is definately one of them.  At least at a real arcade you can watch the current players game till its your turn.  Its kindof a neat feature i'm liking in SSF2T right now.  My intuition is that Sony was thinking of advertising and microtransactions first and cooing its users into this space by providing a few bells and whistles.  If this could somehow be the front end replacement for the XMB then I'd cream myself, but its avatar system and 3D locales are just too elaborate to be implimented into the OS like Nintendo's or NXE's.  It may look pretty, but its too heavy on system resources.  I'd love to have my PS3 automatically start in my virtual apt, but would hate having the couple minutes of load times and hitting X three or four times to get past user agreements every single time just to start a game, so I see why they didn't go this direction.  Still if Sony limited or refocused some of their ambitions I however feel this could've been possible.  I could think of a dozen design changes that I would make in home, but it would mean risks that I bet they weren't willing to take, technologically or asthetically.

Hopefully this being the public beta they get feedback like this to make some changes, but by this point I think changes will be minor, and maybe on the "official" release hopefully seeing more content will help flush Home out some bit.  I'm in the boat that without it being the OS's front end and having to load the program seperately I may never really be Home much., and Sony has been wasting their time.

Posted by super_machine

Longest delayed Dance sim ever!

Posted by Superchris129

Woo, Microtransactions!

Posted by super_machine

The bowling is a joke. All that six axis potential and they didnt even use it. Unless there is a lot of additional content being added, Home will get old fast. 

Posted by Bombmaster

I spent a bit of time in home but I was kind of borred after 10 min and decided to play a better version of home known as GTA IV where its like home but with second amendment rights.  I hate waiting lin line in real world I don't need to do that in a fake one as well. 

Posted by ArbitraryWater
"I guess Sony is anticipating plenty of self-mutilating teenage girls to use Home. Which could be a reason for some to keep using Home, I guess."  I lol'ed. The girls at my school who like twilight (i.e. almost all of them) do not fit into the PS3 playing demographic. At all. Also, Jeff shows the one way home could be interesting, and that's by griefing everybody and everything.
Posted by Johnny5
MrMuise said:
"I'm afraid to go on home, anything that involves me and social interaction usually ends up with me being banned from the building/game/website. I'll go on home using a friend's ps3 though!"
Except you're on a forum!
Posted by Rhombus_Of_Terror

I didn't like the fact it has to partition 3GB of the HDD to get everything on there. I had 12Gb left on my 40Gb drive, it was going to have 9 left. luckily I got that back when i deleted it. i'll probably wait until more things come out and when i upgrade my HDD before i go back in.

Posted by dtran1212

played the open beta last night and i have to say, i agree with Ryan on this one. Even though this is only a beta and Sony does promise us more to come in the future, i would like to give Sony the benifit of the doubt and hope they add something more meaningful to Home. But right now, theres just not enought things in Home that makes me want to go back. Besides, virtual socializing just isn't my thing. anyway, I'm interested to see what will happen to Home in the coming months.

Posted by VoodooTerror

cant connect, had about 30 different errors

Posted by Keeng

Home has done exactly what it was said to do and therefore is exactly what I expected. There's not supposed to be a reason to "keep coming back" other than talking to people. If you're the type of person who likes generally chatting and hanging out with random people, you'll like Home. If you prefer to spend your time on your video game console playing games, which is perfectly reasonable, you probably won't be into home that much. It's simple.

Posted by DukeTogo

Self-mutilating teenage girls....sign me up.

Posted by Lozz

I don't think I will ever use Home. It looks too advertisement filled and creepy, why does it have to be so clean.

Posted by ScottEFresh

It's free and fun.  I liked running around for a few hours.  I'm sure I will again as well.  Can't wait to till games actually support it.

Edited by JJGIANT

I can't see any longevity in this concept that doesn't involve you having to buy more stuff for your frikin avatar







Posted by AutomaticSnake

home fails

Posted by TaintedSun

"If you prefer to spend your time on your video game console playing games, which is perfectly reasonable, you probably won't be into home that much. It's simple."

Not only is it perfectly reasonable, it's the whole reason the console exists.

Posted by Hexpane

w00t virtual couches!!!!   OMG it's a virtual hardwood fl00r?

NXE = bad Mii rip off.      Home = high res Second Life minus fun

Give me a fucking MMORPG on a console (na0 with actual gameplay!) or die!

WHERE IS MY FUCKING GAMEPLAY CONSOLE MAKERS?  ENOUGH TEA BAGGING SHOOTER GUN HOMO BULLSHIT  (yes I typed that in ALL CAPS RETARD style)

Posted by tekmojo

After the server connection problems subsided, I finally got a chance to try out Home for myself. So far, the world as a whole is very small, but it's extremely detailed. Graphics are pretty awesome for a this type of game, but there are some quirks here and there. Load times aren't too bad considering how much is happening onto the screen at one time. My apartment is ok I guess, but I don't spend much time there since there is nothing to do there.

The most time I spent in any one place would have to be the bowling alley. The games are fun but it really gets your mind going on about the possiblities of other mini-games. I think a casino would be perfect for the Home world. They just need more stuff, they need to turn a city block of fun into a entire city of dreams. Whatever you want, whether it be a strip club or a miniature golf course, throw it in the mix. Sony did a decent job at letting you decide where you want to go, but until there is more content, some users will have no where to turn, except on a long vacation away from Home. 

Great start of the open beta for sure, but I'm sure Sony is watching these next few months very carefully. They should be, people are showing up because the idea and concept is truely unique. But how long of Twilight videos will users take before they figure out this is just the Twilight Zone masterminded by Sony only to take advantage of the everyday PS3 user/consumer.

Oh btw, griefing with a headset is currently the best feature in Home atm, alongside dancing!
Posted by HairyToeKnuckles

Title of the article should have been: When 360 Fanboys Invade Home.

"And text chatting about Gears of War 2 as we do so.' /rolleyes

Seriously, why do any of you even bother with anything PS3-related?! We all know you are going to hate it!

Posted by ProfessorEss

I'm glad to see I'm the the only one who enjoyed partaking in the fine art of furniture stacking.

Looks good, runs good, but you just get to little customization pieces to start off with. It really left me with the impression that micro-transactions was priority #1.

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