By Jeriaska . August 5, 2008 . 12:17pm
Since Home was unveiled at the Game Developers Conference in March 2007, the service has promised a combination of console gaming and online virtual world environments. According to Ben Sidwell, artist and development team member on Home, the larger user base intended for the upcoming expanded closed beta will test the sturdiness of Home's virtual infrastructure — Sony is looking to invite as many people as possible around the world to visit when the service launches on the Playstation Network late this year.
The service will offer registered users the chance to customize their own avatars and furnish their own personal spaces, called apartments. At the moment there is code enabled that would allow people to share audio files located on their hard disk via a stereo system that can be plunked down anywhere in the room. That would enable anyone inhabiting the virtual space to hear mp3s streaming over the network. Whether the feature will be in place at launch will be determined by licensing issues. The possibilities for music and Home are numerous, for instance taking into consideration the catalog of Sony BMG.
As far as the public spaces are concerned, players can communicate directly with others in the lobbies of Home and add people to their friends lists. The lobbies will be game-specific, with third-party developers being responsible for building the surroundings to complement the game experience. Most currently have a 64-occupant cap at any given time to prevent overcrowding. Allowing players to create their own game-specific lobbies, while a future possibility, is not currently planned. Ultimately it will be up to each lobby's architects to decide just how to make their spaces conducive to a worthwhile community-centered gaming experience.
The lobby of an offline single-player title like God of War II, explains Sidwell, might have Greek pillars on display, or concept art and models from the game visible on the walls. For an online title like Warhawk, Home subscribers will be able to gather around tables and plan strategies before resuming play. In certain lobbies there could conceivably be information desks where players could check out the stats of game characters, vehicles or trophy requirements. Confirmed at this time are three lobbies: seen above is the trophy room for Uncharted. A space for Resistance and Warhawk enthusiasts will happen as well. More information on the service will be available upon the release of the extended closed beta.
Photo credit Jeriaska/Siliconera. Images courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment