"Home will live or die on the strength of its content." It was good to hear these words coming from Daniel Hill, Sony Europe's Director of Home, at a media day event in London. While Home's initial vision seemed ambitious and groundbreaking, what we've seen so far in the closed beta has been comparatively underwhelming. What was shown at the event, however, was some upcoming first- and third-party content that showed significant progress and potential.
Seeing as the media day event was hosted by SCEE, there could be some info regarding Home spaces that only correlates to the European experience. The majority of info should, however, be universal for all regions.
The MotorStorm apartment, a premium customizable living space, is very different from the Harbor Studio and the Summer House that closed beta users have already seen. Based around the MotorStorm franchise, it's set on a cliff shelf, overlooking the MotorStorm festival, complete with an animated race taking place below. The Home developers we spoke to hadn't yet decided how it would be distributed, but suggested it might be a contest prize or
Speaking of events, we were shown the Events space, which has been around for a while now, re-skinned for one of three upcoming events, which Sony promised us will be "coming shortly." The demonstration was a PSP-3000 treasure hunt, which asks Home users (Homers?) to find eight hidden numbers, strategically placed around the Events space. These numbers are plugged into an in-Home website and enter you into a drawing for a real PSP-3000 (pro tip: look closely at the Loco Roco fountain). Everyone who takes part will get a free in-Home PSP-3000 cap (pictured below).
Two other events were mentioned, including a "design your own T-shirt" event, with the winner's design being made available for sale in the Home shopping center. There will also be a "MotorStorm VIP" event, with some sort of developer interaction. These events look like great fun and, if they happen regularly, could be reason enough to come back into Home every so often.
Red Bull has recently been revealed as the first third-party partner to have its own Home environment. This Red Bull Air Race space was available to play with and includes a 3D plane-flying minigame. Players race through a set of rings in the fastest time possible. Times will then be placed on a universal Home leaderboard, allowing you to see how you rank against friends. Seeing full 3D minigames like this inside Home makes the service's potential a lot more exciting than we previously thought.
While all of the above content was shown live, there were also some pieces of concept art on show. These were for upcoming first-party game spaces, such as the Buzz! space which includes a multiplayer minigame called the "Buzz! Runaround." The concept art showed a top-down view of the environment, which looks like a Buzz! controller. Questions are pumped through from MyBuzz! and players must stand on the correct colored button to rack up points. Everyone in the room can play the game simultaneously, which means up to 32 people can be running around this virtual Buzz! controller. There will also be a leaderboard, much like the Red Bull Air Race game.
Concept art for the MotorStorm space, complete with "MotorKartStorm" minigame and merchandise counter where you can buy such things as MotorStorm branded ripped festival jeans, were also shown. Finally, the Resistance 2 space concept art was revealed. The developers will be playing on the "Twisted History" aspect of the franchise by transforming the Home central plaza into a Chimeran-infested invasion site. There was also talk of a team-based minigame requiring people to fight back a horde of Chimera, though that wasn't shown in the concept artwork.
That's it as far as content that was shown, but we were promised that there's more waiting in the wings from third parties; content that couldn't be talked about thanks to contracts being in various stages of completion. Partners that were confirmed include Sega, Activision, Midway, Atari, Eidos, Ubisoft, EA Sports, Diesel, and Audi.
A lot of interesting tidbits were also revealed. The Trophy room, long assumed dead, has been placed on hold. Daniel Hill did assure us that 3D Trophies would happen in the future. Speaking of Trophies, it has been confirmed that Home will be able to read what Trophies you have and unlock content appropriately. Not only that, but Home will also be able to dish out its own Trophies, though there is no indication of how those will work.
It's possible for future games to have this functionality built in, so that when you acquire a Trophy a message will pop up telling you what you've unlocked in Home. There's also the potential for in-game menus, taking you straight to a game's Home space. It seems that integrating the entire PS3 platform in this way is a large aspect of Home.
There are hopes to develop further PlayStation Store integration, such as being able to download a game's demo or downloadable content simply by approaching an in-Home advertisement. Cross-game invites are possible by pulling people through Home, thanks to the party system, though it won't be available immediately.
Other updates, like bigger clubs, cross-Home game launching and extended profiles, are already planned. This interesting content should start to drop immediately, with more coming fairly regularly. If that happens, Home could definitely be a worthwhile addition to the PS3's feature list.