Look at all the pretty PhysX

By now, hopefully, you're aware of Ageia's PhysX cards for PC's. And, you may or may not know that they have ported the software to run off of the cell chip in the PS3. If you haven't seen it in action or just want to marvel at all the pretty pushed/pulled/exploded/imploded objects, check out this video of a game designed to show off PhysX's capabilities. This is actually running on a PC with one of their cards, but you get the idea.

On a related note, Shacknews.com has posted an interview with Mark Rein, of Epic Games, which talks briefly about the PhysX technology (on PS3, 360, and PC).

Shack: What are your thoughts on AGEIA’s PPU hardware? Any thoughts about how that’s going to take off?

Mark Rein: One thing AGEIA’s done that’s really smart is that–well, if you’ve seen our PS3 demo, and this is really version .1, really not a finished performance at all, but we’ve got some really great cool physics things going on PS3. They’ve done a really good job of optimizing their library to work well with the SPUs in the Cell processor, which means we’re going to be able to get a lot of physics performance out of PlayStation 3. Also on Xbox 360 to some extent, but definitely on PS3 we’re going to be able to get a lot of physics capabilities out of that. Which means that, to bring [games using those methods] to a PC, you’re probably going to need the hardware. Or you could maybe scale it up even further on the PC, I believe, with their hardware. I think that bodes really well for them if developers go nuts and do really cool physics on PlayStation 3, then if people want to play it to that level on PC, they’ll buy the card. So it’s a matter of them coming out with great applications, great games that use it. I know Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter will be using the hardware, and Unreal Tournament 2007 will be using the hardware. Not today, but eventually. So I think that’s pretty exciting for them, and I think it’s going to be pretty cool.

Epic Games is currently working on, greatly anticipated, titles: Gears of War(Xbox 360) and Unreal Tournament 2007 (PS3 and PC).

For info on the PhysX demo video you can visit the official site.


Phil Harrison Interview

Next-gen.biz conducted an interview with Sony's own Phil Harrison. After his keynote at GDC they asked him a few more questions.

Here's a snippet:

Is the business model for digital distribution over PlayStation 3 now in place?

For the most part; yes. There are obviously some details and some contractual relationships, we have to dot Is and cross Ts but in the big picture, yes.

So…how does it work? How is the money divided?

You’ll understand that is something that I’m not going to share with you. It’s something we share under NDA with our developers and publishers. Plus, I am not the third party guy any more; I’m the first party guy so I’ll duck that question on a couple of counts.

Yet some media outlets are still getting it wrong. USA Today reported that there will be a two-tiered pricing structure for PlayStation Network Platform?

I think that some analysts must have been in a different presentation. Some things they got wrong, and others they speculated on areas that we did not even touch upon. Obviously we hope that this conversation can help to clarify the message.

So is the price decided upon?

I’m not going to comment on that.

Do you believe this complexity will lead to a lengthening of platform cycles?

You’ve seen with PlayStation Portable how a hardware platform can grow through operating system upgrades and although we have not gone into specifics you can assume we’ll follow a similar strategy for PlayStation 3.

It’s a static device from hardware point of view but it’s a dynamic platform, from a software point of view. That is something we couldn’t do on PS2 or PS1 so I think that will absolutely lengthen the lifecycle of the future assuming that the consumer finds those offerings compelling and I think they will.

How would you describe the differences between PlayStation Network Platform and your competitors’ offerings?

This is going to sound like a really soundbitey answer but the biggest difference is that it’s on PlayStation. We are a 100 million, 200 million unit company. We are he pre-eminent brand for interactive entertainment worldwide. We have a reach and a market share that dwarfs our competition.

Now, maybe in US it’s not such a runaway leadership - Microsoft is definitely a more vigorous competitor here than anywhere else in the world - but in some countries PlayStation is the videogame business.

The fact that PlayStation is making this push is the biggest differentiating factor. The second one is that the basic service is free. We’re taking what we did on PlayStation 2 where online gaming is free, so why should we suddenly charge for it on PlayStation 3? Although, clearly, we are going to have premium offerings where you can pay to download content.

The other one is that - and I don’t want to acknowledge too much one of our competitors - but by calling it Xbox Live Arcade it pretty much tells you what it does on the tin. Whereas we’re going to be much more entertainment-based, much wider - music and movies and games and other forms of digital entertainment and so hopefully it will be more impactful to a mass market.

No real new information, but it's always nice to hear Sony's stance on all things PS3. I have high hopes for the Playstation Network, and hopefully it will be everything it's cracked up to be.



It's all about MotorStorm

Back at E3 2005 one of the most buzzworthy PS3 trailers was MotorStorm; second only to Killzone. There was alot of speculation as to whether it was realtime or simply CGI. Well now a real realtime video has been shown at GDC, and how was it? Well IGN had this to say about it:

"Compared to the E3 presentation, the game is close in presentation and functionality and look to its promise, with detail not reaching the level of the astounding E3 demo but still running with some very cool technology to provide a new way of playing in the mud. Developed by Evolution Studios, the game’s presentation featured buggies and motorcycles running through a rugged desert. The game’s advanced new mud physics were incredible, leaving ruts behind in the mud using real physics. For example, a motorcycle was seen cutting a deep groove in the mud while kicking up muck at a white truck following it, the trailing vehicle buckily wildly as it battled off the streaming mud while also trying to find a line to drive in the groove-etched bog. The particle effects, however, were not nearly at that level of quality, looking a little temporary at this stage of early development."

Now it's unfortunate that they would show a video of the game with unfinished graphics. However, it sounds as if the game is shaping up quite nicely. Hopefully we'll all be sliding around in the mud like wild rednecks, come November. I have heard rumors that Motorstorm will be a launch title, but there's no confirmed info on that.

I posted about some screens earlier, but there is one screenshot of this game in particular that is very exciting. The in-game shop, pictured here, shows how Sony's content download service will be built directly into the game. The menu is a little hard to read from the picture, but it shows the sections for downloadable content are Tracks, Vehicles, Parts, Gameplay, Extras, and Merchandise. And it looks like a track will cost $2.50 so no Sony points (via Xbox Live). I hope to see shots like this for more games, and hopefully this new video for MotorStorm will surface on the net pretty soon.


(note: This info actually came from multiple posts on PS3blog.net so the source link just goes to his site.)

Teh Screens... yes I said "teh"

Well since no one was really sure about the camera policy at GDC, it looks like someone got some shots off during Phil Harrisons keynote speech. The games shown were Motorstorm, The Getaway, Warhawk, Ratchet & Clank, Resistance: Fall of Man (formerly i-8), and other tech demos. (Which may or may not have anything to do with games in production.)

You can find some screens at Joystiq and some more at Club Skill

These are not the best shots in the world, but they do give us a glimpse of what "real time footage" means on the PS3.

Also an In-game screenshot from the game Lair has surfaced on the net. You can see it here.



Sony says Free Online Gaming... err Kind Of [Update 1]

It seems that with even the basic version of Sony's "Playstation Network", which is free (at least initially), will include online gaming. As this is essentially the only part of Xbox Live that costs money, it stands to reason that Sony will have to make money from some part of their service. It could simply be ad supported, although I see that as unlikely. Or, they'll have to charge some form of money from the consumer. This could be worked into a subscription for premium services, what services this would include I cannot speculate. Another option would be making revenue off of items sold through Sony; music, video, game downloads, etc. But, as of right now it's looking like, come November, we'll be "Pwnin n00bzors" online without paying a dime to do so.

This service is being put together with help from online veterans SOE, and recently acquired Sony developer Zipper (makers of SOCOM).


[Update: It appears that Sony has said now that online multiplayer will be free, and the service will be supported by money from downloadable content (e.g. extra tracks/ maps, music, etc.)]


More on Playstation Online

First it was just "live-killer" and we didn't know what the "eff" it was. Then it was Playstation HUB, and it sounded an awful lot like Xbox Live for the 360. Now, Sony's spilled the beans, and they're calling it "PlayStation Network Platform". I highly doubt that will be the final marketed name. If nothing else, they'll drop the word platform from it. They'll have to come up with some snazzy marketable hip/fresh/leet/in/cool name for it. For now we don't have name to call it though so how about, Playstaion Online Service or POS. Just kidding.

What you're really wanting to know is exactly what this service will offer. Playstaion Network Platform or PNP will Provide the following services to PS3 (and potentially PSP) owners:

* Voice/Video chat
* Messaging
* Lobby/Matchmaking
* Score/Ranking
* Friend list/Avatar
* Game data upload/download
* Shop (accessible from inside games)
* Content Download
* Micro Payment
* Subscription
* Entitlement (user access rights) management
* User Registration
* Login ID/Handling of name issues

So let's see if I can clarify those a bit (keep in mind these are just my thoughts not info from Sony):

* Voice/Video chat
Pretty self explanatory, no word on "In-Game" video chat though.
* Messaging
I'm assuming this means "text" so expect a few people to send messages like "U R t3h 5uK!!1", but maybe like the xbox you'll be able to record voice and send it as well.
* Lobby/Matchmaking
I'm not sure, but it seems this implies universal Lobby/Matchmaking. As in a particular lobby set up for the system rather than letting the game designers create unique one's for each game (which of course has it's +'s and -'s).
* Score/Ranking
Most likely this will be similar to the structure of "gamer points" on the 360, each game will have certain objectives that unlock points and save it to you're profile. And, other players can look at to see what games you've been playing and what you've accomplished.
* Friend list/Avatar
Need I say more?
* Game data upload/download
not sure if this means they are allowing the share of game saves or what? Maybe you can upload your save files to their servers and play them at a friends house after you log onto their machine.
* Shop (accessible from inside games)
Who knows exactly what this means, the "accessible from inside games leads me to believe that there will be game specific items. I hope this for things like music downloads or game related merch. Just as long as it's not paying real money for ingame items like Everquest II, then I don't care
* Content Download
This is the big vague one. More on this below.
* Micro Payment
Again probably very similar to Xbox Live. You pay X dollars for X points rather than buying items out right.
* Subscription
you know what that means. No Price has been set.
* Entitlement (user access rights) management
* User Registration
They'll ,I'm sure, require the usual information
* Login ID/Handling of name issues
This basically just implies that you'll have one Login name for all games, so no using l33tFrag9872375892 for Unreal Tournament and pwn1n81+ch35 for Burnout.

Ok, so the Content Download, this could and probably does cover all kind of things sony isn't ready to talk about. There have been rumors of Sony having downloadable PS1 and PS2 games playable on the PS3 (and maybe on the PSP aswell). Also, there may very well be simple (meaning mostly 2D) games available for download (see Xbox Live Arcade). There should also be demos and trailers for upcoming games. It's been rumored that sony is teaming up with Comcast to deliver digital entertainment via the PS3, what this actually entails I can't be sure. Anyway you look at it, though, this service is going to be a very nice addition to the other PS3 features. Whether it's truly the "live-killer" Sony wants it to be will be determined when we get our filthy hands on it.


PS3 Launching in November [Official]

Well, it's official now, Sony says the PS3 will hit shelves in "early November". The good news is that date is good for Japan, North America, and Europe. Just how many will be available? 6 Million before the end of the year. The delay from a "spring 2006" launch comes from Blue-Ray's DRM not quite being ready.

Still no price point persay, but $400-500 is a pretty good guess. And, what do get in exchange for forking over all that cash? The highest spec'ing next-gen console, powered by the "Cell". A Blue-Ray drive for movies and ALL GAMES(that's right no DVD games). The system will ship with a detachable (and fully upgradable) 60 gig HDD with a Linux OS pre-loaded on it. At launch you will be able to connect to Sony's new online service (apparently still unnamed) which will feature online gaming, lobbies, match making, voice chat, and a much more robust collection of multi-media downloads than... uhh those other guys. From what I gather, this service will work quite similarly to "Live" on the 360, as in, free to be connected to the internet and download media (assuming you're downloading media that is indeed free), but you have to pay a subscription fee to play games online.

And, after loading down that 60G drive with all the music, videos, and pictures you can take, what then? Well since the PS3 will function as a home server, you'll be able to call up this media on your PC or maybe your PSP.

PS3, backwards compatible? I got 2 words for you, "like whoa". Not only will the PS3 be 100% backwards compatible, all Legacy (greatest hits) titles will be displayed at HD resolutions.

Hope that's enough info to sasiate you rabid fanboys for a little bit.

Stay tuned this is going to be an exciting year.



Slew of new PS3 games.

This month's O.P.M. covers some more PS3 games that are in the works.

Here they are:


What you need to know: John Woo is in charge of this game starring Chow Yun Fat as bad-ass cop, "Tequila". You fight, you shoot, you kill, all in glory only the PS3(and 360) can provide. What else could you want?

Can't wait? This game is a sequel to John Woo film Hard Boiled. So, if this game gets you all weak in the knees(or whatever you wanna call it), check out the original.


The Darkness:

What you need to know: You are a kid possessed by "the darkness". You have guns and demonic powers to kill... wait for it... Mafiosos. This all ties into the story, which I won't give away.

Can't wait? The game is based off of Top Cow comic book, The Darkness, which you can buy from that link.


Medal of Honor:Airborne :

What you need to know: WWII FPS, now with huge open environments. This game also covers paratrooping which, depending on how close you come to landing in the correct spot, can affect how your mission plays out.

Can't wait? Well good news for you, Medal of Honor is a well established series, and you can play all the previous installments to get psyched up.


Untold Legends:

What you need to know: Hack and slash action RPG for the Next Gen. Think Champions of Norrath, only not.

Can't Wait?
Step 1, go buy a PSP(assuming you haven't already). 2, Go buy Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade. 3, wait 'til the end of the month and you should be able to go pick up the sequel for your PSP.

There are no trailers available for this game but here's some Screens

New PS3 Info This Week!!!!!!111!1?!fortytwo [Update 1]

The net(a.k.a. t3h 1n+3rw3b) has been busy with rumors of more PS3 info being announced this Wednesday. On The Ides of March, as it's called, Sony is holding a conference. This news, however, is not nearly as exciting as it should be. The conference will be "developer only",and as we learned from past developer only events, Destination Playstation and DevStation, NOTHING. (sic) Maybe we'll get some info, maybe not. Sony seems to like the idea of toying with us. Someday soon we will know when the PS3 is coming out, but I doubt, heavily that that days is Wednesday.


(note: somehow that got turned into a jab at internet kiddies, which wasn't really my intent. I guess I'm just a little frustrated with people on the net saying this that and the other about things they haven't researched, and therefore know nothing about. My apologies. And, to all you good net kids scouring to find real info, thank you.)

[Update: foot in mouth]


"Wa!" Online Game [Update 1]

Ok so, all I gathered from this is: Playstation 3, Online, and a date for something 03/01/06 ~ 04/30/06. I'll update this post if I come up with anything else.

[Update 1: I managed to find some Selectable text that translates to "From 2006 March 1st the support is possible." Support for what exactly? your guess is as good as mine. Oh and the text is Korean.]


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