PlayStation Home gets closer to the the public beta release this week. On June 25th 2008, PlayStation Home closed Beta version v0.9.4.2 is released being with it some improvements and prepares Home for the expansion in July. The update will improve the targeting system used to interact with objects, chat animation, and alert system, and will also enable the modular download system, which will download new content dynamically.
Another update is expected on July 10th 2008 where PlayStation Home will be moving to new servers. Existing beta testers will lose all their saved data but this will be the last time your data is deleted. In July, the closed beta will be extended to include new users but will remain in the closed beta phase until fall this year.
The first item we need to mention is our new patching system. When the patch is released the first time you connect you will be prompted to get the latest files as normal. If you decline the patch and then still try to log on to PS Home it will crash. The new patching system is really built for v0.9.4.2 upwards and its compatibility with 0.8.6 is limited.
What your character targets when looking around is now controlled by a new system that combines character position, facing and camera orientation. By making some existing elements interactive you now have a means of going full screen with videos and posters and also viewing extra information about items of furniture. You will also find it easier to target characters around you and check their profiles.
If you’re chatting with text or voice your character will now animate to visually indicate that you are communicating. This is not lip syncing but it should help conversations feel more natural.
We have started to replace pop up messages, where appropriate, with alerts. Previously a pop up would notify you of an event, like an invitation, but they would interrupt whatever you were doing and demand attention. The alert system will make interacting with things like this less intrusive; allowing you to deal with them when it suits you.
A means of reading and handling your alert messages has been added to the PSP under "Messages". An example of something new we can do with this system is the alert you get when a friend enters or leaves your location.
Modular download system
The items in PS Home, like clothing and furniture for example, are now downloaded dynamically on demand – a bit like downloading a location the first time you visit. This means that PS Home is more modular and we can add and remove things easily and, importantly, without the need for a patch. This will allow us to expand and update PS Home easily in the future.
The World Map allows us to represent all of the locations using our "chip system" interface and also allows you to add favourite locations to your PSP. It’s hard to describe such a visual system but we think you’ll see what benefits this will bring – especially as more and more locations are added.
New character loading and relocation transitions
The white screen you see while relocating and the blue squares on the floor as you load into a location were a frequent source of questions and complaints. They have been removed and replaced by something much better.
The first thing you’ll notice is that when you relocate your view of the world will fade and blur and then the new location will draw into focus.
The blue squares on the floor have been replaced with ghost characters which will help you feel like you’ve arrived much quicker. These ghosts can be interacted with as if the normal, fully loaded character was already there.
The old system brought a sense of disconnection to moving between locations and so we feel this new approach is not only quicker but does it without taking you out of the experience.
Relocating to a friend
We have added additional spawn points to each location that are used when you try to go to or invite another person. As a result you will appear much closer to the target, you will be facing them and the friend icon above their head will flash. This will allow you to meet up with your friends much faster.
Back and exit
We’ve made a change to the way you exit from a system (like the Wardrobe or World Map). Previously [CIRCLE] had been used as a universal back and exit function. However this does not work in a global service like PS Home where the [CIRCLE] button has a different function depending on where you live in the world. Therefore whilst [CIRCLE] remains a back function within a system to exit that system you press [START] and choose "Exit".
An extra benefit of this change is that you can exit from a system at any point now – you don’t have to return to the top level any more.
While the implications of sharing pictures via the Picture Frames in your PS Home Space are being debated, this function has been removed.
You can no longer access the Wardrobe whilst in someone else’s PS Home Space. This prevents the problems that can occur if they leave their own PS Home Space whilst you are still there but in your Wardrobe.
This now supports Parental Controls.
Several aspects of facial customisation have been adjusted to allow a greater range of possible values:
- Brow set
- Eye size
- Eye droop
- Lip depth
- Lip twist
- Chin width
We’ve started to animate objects in the scenes to make the world a more natural place. Take a look at the boats in the harbour for instance; you will see a gentle bobbing motion now.
You’ll find more clothing options available to you in the Wardrobe and the Marketplace.
We’ve improved the specular lighting for indoor locations and outdoor shaded areas. For example, look at the floor in your Harbour Studio apartment.
We’ve added some new background images and icons for you to spruce up your virtual PSP to your liking.
That loud noise you would sometimes hear when people spoke on voice chat has been tracked down and fixed.
There are far too many bug fixes to mention them all individually but we have spent some time working on the stability issues that you have all witnessed before, and you should witness noticeable improvements.