Home for the Holidays

Well, they’ve done it, somehow. Sony will release Playstation Home later today. (Had to double check the clock on that one.) Amazingly Sony will be able to keep their promise of releasing it for everyone before 2008 is over. There was a countdown on some site to see if they could do it or not.

I was lucky enough to be a part of the closed beta for Home and I haven’t written up on it before, because, frankly, I was worried I would be violating some non disclosure agreement if I did. I was too busy to look it up anyway. Since it’s being released today and I don’t care anymore, I’ll give a quick rundown of my impressions.

1. Everything it does, it does very well, the program works smoothly and without many hiccups. If you really try with other people there are a few clipping issues.

2. There is not a whole lot to do in the closed beta. The stores only had minor amount of stock in the last few days. The bowling alley had a few arcade games, which is really meta if you think about it, pool and bowling, which I never got to play because the lanes were always full.

3. The movie theather is nice, though once again a very meta expirien, watching a movie on a screen within a tv screen. Though there was only one movie and not a very interesting one at that.

4. There is spots for advertising and its used very sparingly. But it does mean it will remain a free experience.

5. Character customization is very deep, wit the face anyway. Wish there were more ways to create different skin and hair colors.

6. It is always sunny. No matter what time of day it is. I suppose that is a good thing, but kind of weird when you’re in the winter lodge you can buy and the fire is roaring at high noon.

Really it works. You can find people on your friends list easily, communicate, much easier to do if you have a USB keyboard or headset. My issue is a lack on content, which will be fixed now that the beta is open. Many companies have offered not only billboard advertising, but activities and rooms of their own. Which shifts me nicely into my next complaint.

I have no idea how to get to the special locations. I can find my way in the world and via menu to the 5 main areas: common square, your room, bowling alley, movie theater, mall. Beyond that I am at a loss. There were supposedly three special room devoted to Playstation releases, but I couldn’t even begin to know where to look. Maybe they were just closed off when I joined and will be changed when the beta goes open tonight.

Final word: this is not a game. Don’t think of it as such. This a much more interesting way to get people connected on the PSN. you can get games going, watch movies together and generally hang out, though I find AIM easier to work with, but it does give a nice visual to whom your talking to.

Playstation Home goes into Open beta December 11th, downloadable on the Playstation Network.

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Eric Swain

A graduate of Boston University, majoring in English and Creative Writing and has spent significant time studying story structure and theory in the mediums of books, film and video games. His articles offer unique perspective on deep game development and design through his eclectic prose. you can find his critical analysis on www.thegamecritique.com.

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