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PlayStation Home gets an extreme makeover

“One of the big pieces of feedback we got from new users in Home is they would come into Home, and they couldn’t figure out what to do,” says Home’s director, Jack Buser. “There were so many different things to do that they were just overwhelmed, and unless you were an experienced user it was often difficult to figure out what you should do based on your interests. The questing system that we’re building in the new core experience is targeted at solving that problem.”


Above: Goodbye, Central Plaza. Hello, Hub

Welcome to the brand-new Hub. As soon as residents arrive, they’ll be welcomed into an area that, unlike the Central Plaza, “screams” games, Buser promises. At the center of the Hub, for example, is a kiosk with a rotating assortment of games, starting off with the indie darling Cogs. The Hub also acts as a homepage of sorts: from here, a visitor can exit to any of the four main districts, each of which is built to help denizens quickly find the kind of content they crave.

Also in the Hub: an activity board that’s continually updated. But these aren’t just one-off minigames (though those will still exist). Home will soon include a persistent questing system. “We have a very robust system that will allow us to do a variety of different quests, from very short, fast quests all the way to extremely long, narrative-driven quests that are branching and take weeks and weeks to complete,” Buser says. “And we do everything in between. Through that spectrum, we can use quests to send people on unique experiences that weren’t possible before in PlayStation Home. Or we can use quests to drive different kinds of content that’s relevant to them.”


Above: Hide your wallets and walk with purpose. The Action District can be a bit rough - or so we’re told

Buser demoed for us one quest that involved an alien invasion. After spotting an alien mothership off in the distance, we heard a siren, followed by a newsflash warning us of an impending attack. A quick peek at the activity board then revealed a quest to defend Home against the mothership; we had to hoof to one of the side districts to board a boat, then use it to pick up floating ammo crates (from a destroyed ship) while dodging enemy fire from above. Next, we stopped off in another district to use the ammo we collected in a turret shooter, blasting away at alien scrubs before taking on the mothership itself. While these were fairly straightforward minigames, Buser promises these quests will often build upon each other, creating multiple branching paths and unlocking new games and new rewards.


Above: Head to Pier Park puzzle, arcade and indie games. And a giant Ferris wheel

“With this new system now we know what you did,” Buser says. “We know that you beat the mothership, so maybe when you come into Home later the questing system knows, ‘Ah yeah, you’re the guy that beat the alien mothership. Now we’re going to provide you with an exclusive experience that you wouldn’t get otherwise.’ It’s that kind of persistency that matters.”

The new Home includes four districts. Pier Park is the family-friendly setting, good for fans of games like Ratchet & Clank. The Action District is the rough neighborhood, built in large part for shooter fans. Sportswalk, naturally, caters to sports fans, and includes everything from sports trivia and real-time tickers to live broadcasts of sporting events. And the Adventure District is designed around games like the Uncharted series.


Above: Cozy up to the bar for some trivia, or watch a live game in Sportswalk

It’s all part of the effort to help gamers quickly find everything Home has to offer. “We have been working extremely hard to bring games to Home, to the point where we now have hundreds,” Buser says. “This new core experience is going to immediately tell people who are willing to give us another chance that this is a place for them.”

The new Home to will be released sometime this fall.

Aug 23, 2011

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18 comments

  • nib0rtehGRfan - August 24, 2011 2:22 p.m.

    The Hub? Copyright infringement!
  • DrRock - August 24, 2011 8:22 a.m.

    I still have no desire to use Home. Did it a few times to grief people and that was about the extent of my use of Home.
  • Joco84 - August 24, 2011 3:56 a.m.

    unless Sony make it so the PS3 loads up Home upon turning on the console, I cannot see anyone actively going into Home as a choice.
  • CitizenWolfie - August 24, 2011 1:39 a.m.

    I wish Sony would just call this one a loss. I can't imagine all those core gamers who hated it in the first place will be flocking back once it's had an overhaul. And let's face it, if you're using your time faffing around on Home, you're not actually playing proper video games - Avatars and Miis work because they're just a side thing and are implemented into actual games. Your Home character is limited to Home.
  • Darth_Griffin - August 23, 2011 10:25 p.m.

    Second Life for Playstation?
  • ReasonableFanboy - August 23, 2011 6:47 p.m.

    Aaaaaaaaand I still don't give a damn.
  • InfinityPrimo - August 24, 2011 3:59 a.m.

    I thought the same damn thing... So...its going to suck...less?
  • laserwulf - August 23, 2011 4:25 p.m.

    Home is a neat concept, but it felt like the developers of it were simply out of touch with what would appeal to hardcore gamers. XBL avatar Lightsabers show that we'll pay real money for virtual goods, but the one time I looked around in Home's mall, all I saw was boring, generic crap. Likewise, I'm not opposed to socializing in an online environment (the throngs in WoW would probably agree); just give me someplace I -want- to go to. SCEA really needs a person (or team!) to act as a community manager just within Home, to dream up and oversee events and in-environment resources that are relevant to us. With PAX coming up, Sony should be promoting the hell out of itself. Why not a 'virtual booth' for those of us who can't make it to Seattle? Codes distributed at the con for unlocking PAX-shirts for your avatar? The possibilities are endless.
  • Thequestion 121 - August 23, 2011 3:10 p.m.

    This is pretty cool :)
  • chad-munn - August 23, 2011 2:51 p.m.

    hahaha. Dear Jack, DUUUUHHHHH!!!!! When you spend a few hundred thousand dollars telling every press event crew that puts a microphone near your face that Home is a "huge success" and "millions of PS3 owners use it" you may want to stop long enough to wipe the bulls&*# off your eye lashes and realize that when millions of PS3 users log on- see that is SUCKED and log off... it's not a success. We don't use our PS3's as virtual malls because... because... it was a STUPID idea from the initial concept. A redesign was called for by the end of the first week they put Home out there. I'm very glad to see they FINALLY stopped lying about it and have DONE something about it! Make it cool- make it about GAMES and then gamers will come to it naturally. Wow. Some room full of morons actually got paid a LOT of money to come up with Home originally and for years after. Think about that... paid to make something laughably horrible. Wow. Glad that's over.
  • Pocotron - August 23, 2011 12:28 p.m.

    mite be cool. I tried it out before, and while it was fun with the right people, it got pretty boring rather quickly.
  • CaptainUSA - August 23, 2011 12:21 p.m.

    I have always wanted to try Home.
  • forestfire55 - August 23, 2011 12:20 p.m.

    GOD people! Just give it a chance. They are obviously trying very hard to appeal to us gamers. I think the least we can do is to stop playing black ops for 11 hours in a row and try something new for a change. I think the ideas for the current PSH had good ideas but faild to deliver it to the; hardcore gamer, casual gamer, or mostly any gamer. I like the idea of actual game baced games and actual live football or hocky etc. in the sports walk, if you bring a couple of friends over it sounds real fun, not play for hours on end fun, but every other day fun, and I think there should be more games like that.
  • db1331 - August 23, 2011 12:14 p.m.

    I've owned a PS3 for about 5 months now, and I don't even know what Home is. Something tells me I should be glad.
  • iluvpkmnmonday - August 23, 2011 11:26 a.m.

    This may cause me to actually log in to Home for a second time, just to see.
  • BigWillis - August 23, 2011 11:26 a.m.

    Or they could just let it die and spend the development time on getting cross game chat working and making PSN as good as Xbox Live or maybe making it better.
  • ollyn - August 23, 2011 12:24 p.m.

    Apparently it's making them a fair bit of money in some micro transactions, where as features like cross game chat won't.
  • Letter11 - August 23, 2011 10:59 a.m.

    No way a re-design for Home? I'm so excited to continue never using it!

Showing 1-18 of 18 comments

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