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PlayStation 3’s online social network Home released today


PlayStation Home Screenshot of the Motorstorm environmentPlayStation Home, the long awaited online social networking service for PlayStation 3 users, will launch today, December 11th, in the United States and Europe.

The service has been a long time coming and was first announced at the Game Developers Conference 2007 by Phil Harrison and was supposed to launch that year but suffered several delays and setbacks. But now the service is officially ready to go.

Home will be available as a free download to all PlayStation 3 owners once they connect to the PlayStation Network. If you connect or are already connected the service will automatically download and install. Once that is done, you will see a new PlayStation Home logo in your CrossMedia Bar (XMB) menu.

The service lets users interact and chat with each other through a 3D space via avatars that they create to represent themselves. The looks is similar to The Sims and the avatars work much like the Wii’s Mii system but closer to the Xbox 360 avatars in that they look more realistic and like actual people.

When you are inside Home, you can walk around the various environments as your avatar and chat with others via both text and voice. There is a variety of activities you can do with others as well, including playing mini-games, watching videos (on actual TV screens), listening to music (on actual stereos), visiting clubs and more. Clubs are unique areas created by users with similar interests, where they can come and mingle about whatever subject. So expect there to be clubs for every anime under the sun, for example.

Home is highly customizable, everything from your avatars themselves to your own personal room, or apartment, that you can purchased directly from the PlayStation Store, to your clothes and furnishings for your place. As far clubhouses go, they will be available for anyone who wants to create a club, although you will have to pay a price. Sony did not say how much. They simply stated that “to be a Clubhouse owner, user will need to buy the entitlement to run the club.” So it sounds like it will be a small fee to simply set the club up.

You will also find “regional game-related content” in Home. These are areas that are set-up to advertise certain games. You will find areas, or “spaces” devoted to hit PlayStation 3 titles including Far Cry 2, Motorstorm 2: Pacific Rift, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, SOCOM, Resistance and Guitar Hero among many others that will eventually become available. Initially the Far Cry 2 space will only be available for European users but will be available in North American territories “soon” and it shouldn’t be too long before a whole bunch of them become available. Sony stated that they are actively

Naturally, any company can use Home as a marketing tool by creating their own advertising space within Sony’s Home. Sony already has plans with Sony Pictures and Paramount Pictures which involve “dedicated spaces, sponsorship of in-world events, virtual items and exclusive media viewings in the PlayStation Home Theatre.”

The first movie-tie-in event will involve the upcoming film The Watchmen, which will have it’s own space with a selection of virtual Watchmen merchandise. You’ll even have the chance to virtually meet members of the film’s cast and crew in a Watchmen-themed environment in 2009.

The Watchmen promotion follows the previously announced sponsorships with fashion label Diesel and energy drink Red Bull. The latter will offer the opportunity to take part in a virtual version of the Red Bull Air Race, a stunt-flying championship around Red Bull Island. Ligne Roset will provide contemporary furniture, and users will be able to customize items before they buy them.

Published on December 10th, 2008 under , , , , , , , , , ,

New Xbox Experience launches worldwide on November 19, 2008


New Xbox Experience Avatar Screenshot

The New Xbox Experience Xbox Live Dashboard update will launch worldwide on November 19th, 2008 (in 26 countries, localized in 11 languages), Microsoft announced at their Tokyo Game Show 2008 keynote.

The New Xbox Experience will finally implement avatars into your Xbox Live GamerCard among scores of other additions and updates, such as the ability to stream Netflix movies (if you are a member) that you can watch with friends and to do group events as a “party”, including playing a number of live gameshows for real-life prizes.

Launching worldwide is a plus for those gamers in other countries, but it’s to be seen if the Microsoft servers will be able to hold up to the flood. Microsoft’s last attempt at a worldwide launch last December ended up with huge latency and downtime issues as Microsoft struggled to keep things running. It’ll be interesting to see if they have learned from past mistakes.

Via MajorNelson

Play as your Spicy Side in the Slim Jim Online Game


Spicy Town screenshot
The Slim Jim Online Game went the extra mile with this webgame and literally puts your own Spicy Side in Spicy Town. Let me explain that so it makes more sense, although it’ll stay on the weird side!

The story goes that a Spicy Side is a violent alter ego of a person who eats a Slim Jim. When you go to you can create such a Spicy Side caricature of yourself. You do this by uploading a picture of your face, maybe edit it a little to make it fit on-screen, and after that the game generates a personalized evil Mini-Me avatar out of you and you redo it until you get one you like. You can see my Wacky Supa below, I look a little like G-Man don’t you think?

Spicy Side fight screenshot
Click the screenshot to see my Spicy Side kick ass!

After that you’re dropped in the middle of town to:

* Talk with others online via the chat window at the bottom of the screen; swap stories, talk politics or share horn-grooming tips and then roll your mouse over their nametag to add them to your buddy list.
* Punch “X” and kick “Z” everything in Spicy Town. Spray painting walls is cool too, just don’t let the “giant” cop bust you. Not only is causing a ruckus a good way to blow off steam, it’ll help you find spicy meat. Thirteen different Slim Jims are hidden throughout Spicy Town. Crouch (push the down arrow) to pick them up.
* Climb the leaderboard by scoring more points by collecting all thirteen Slim Jims and by winning fights.
* Roll over another Spicy Side’s nametag to challenge them to a rumble. The more points you earn from fighting, the more special moves you unlock. The punch and kick fights are surprisingly simple fun and the special moves totally random in a funny way.

Published on June 6th, 2008 under , , , , , ,

Avatar: The Last Airbender: Into the Inferno Wii gameplay control demo


Into the Inferno for WiiThe Wii-focussed sequel to “Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Burning Earth”, based on the popular animated television series, is well underway. Titled “Avatar: The Last Airbender — Into the Inferno” takes place during the third season of the Nickelodeon TV show. Expect the action game to be released for Wii, PlayStation 2 and DS in October 2008.

To quote developer THQ Australia: “When the Fire Nation devises a plot to use the power of Sozin’s Comet to rain devastation on the rest of the world, the fate of the world lies in the hands of only a few young, brave heroes – Aang and his friends. Aang must master all four elements — Earth, Water, Air and Fire — to do battle with the relentless Fire Nation. In addition to traditional beat-’em-up-style challenges, Aang will traverse all-new flying levels in which players can steer gliders through the world.”

Control Aang & friends’ powers using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk as shown in this gameplay demo:

Click on the bottom-right corner arrow to view it fullscreen.

Jon Stewart’s hilarious take on Second Life


Jon Stewart, Beowolf Porpoiseburg, and Rob Riggle’s avatar all report for The Daily Show on the American Congress Hearings by GLITTERACTICACOOKIE in a discussion about the potential dangers of the virtual world Second Life. *breathes in* Oh yeah!

Via Kotaku, more info at the Washington Post.

Published on April 8th, 2008 under , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

PS3 Home games integration explained for Warhawk (3D war room), Uncharted (2D arcade game), Resistance (bonus content and new areas)


PS3 Home avatar screenshot
The PlayStation 3’s Home service is a free online 3D avatar-based achievement and communication system (via text, voice chat or e-motions) and that will give you access to a “home” of your own and a larger interactive world. Last we heard it was to be released sometime between April and June 2008.

Warhawk for PS3You can launch a game you want to play with someone else from within Home. The first game to use this is the Incognito aerial dogfighter Warhawk. You’ll be given access to a “war room” where up to 8 players can meet up to discuss their strategies for an upcoming match. While that in itself may not sound exciting, these strategies you discuss can be planned using a 3D “sand table” replication of the level you’re about to play! To quote: “Warhawk players are said to be able to lay out their strategies in a properly scaled space. They’ll even be able to place little army men avatars around the map to envision their formations.”

Drake's Fortune for PS3PS3 games will be able to not only display their achievements as trophies in your Home lobby, but also add 2D or 3D games (like 2D rescue helicopter or 3D bowling) in a room-environment of their own to draw attention to their latest games. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune adventure comes to Home armed with a side-scrolling 2D arcade game! It’s described as: “Reminiscent of both Contra and Out Of This World. Sounds kind of like Capcom’s 2D remake of Bionic Commando in its execution, full of enemies and exploding barrels to shoot.” Your Home avatar will also be able to walk through Uncharted’s empty levels without the threat of being shot at.

Fall Of Man for PS3While we already knew film publishers can show their latest movie releases in Home cinemas as a special sneak peek event (Sony showing Spider-Man 3 for example), the same goes for game publishers. Insomniac’s shooter Resistance: Fall of Man also gives users access to a game room where you can “visit unseen areas of the game and tap into bonus content in the form of “intercepted” radio communications between European and U.S. forces. These hidden transmissions will help to flesh out the Resistance story, giving players a better understanding of the game’s conflict.” You’ll also be able to walk through Resistance’s empty levels with your Home avatar without enemies. — Via Kotaku

Published on February 28th, 2008 under , , , , , , , , ,

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