Archive for March, 2006

Absurd Sony Headlines This Week

I keept my tab on many news sources throughout the week so I know what’s going on in the world of Sony and PlayStation 3. In the course of doing so, I find some absurd headlines that just don’t make sense, are trying to be sensationalistic to grab eyeballs, or whatever. I’ve compiled a few that I’ve seen this week. Can you guess why each of these are ludicrous?

  • MS Chief ‘Flattered’ by Sony’s Homage
  • Sony CEO Predicts Blu-ray Win
  • Panasonic Blu-ray player to beat PS3 to market
  • Can Sony Do HDMI?
  • Round 1 to Microsoft
  • Sony refuses to show off PS3 HDMI
  • Sony calls it quits for PSone
  • Hollywood’s UMD support dwindling — Blu-ray next?

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PhysX Demo

Vitor, a reader, sent me a link to an awesome game demo developed just to show off what the PhysX engine by AGEIA can do. If you’ll recall, the PhysX engine is also available to PS3 developers to use in their PS3 games.

Anyway, this demo is actually on the PC, not a console, but it gives a taste of the kind of fun that can be had with physics. I especially appreciate the Jedi Force Push -type effects that the soldiers are capable of. The battle playfield is rather small. It actually reminds me of the one level in Quake II that my friends and I have a blast with. It’s quite small, but you jump around a lot to go from platform to platform.

Cool stuff, thanks Vitor.

GameTrailers.com – CellFactor Demo Video
CellFactor: Combat Training (official website)

As well, Mark Rein of Epic Games had some interesting things to say in an interview:

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.

In other words, to get the kind of physics performance you’ll be seeing on the PS3 on a PC, you’ll need to buy the PhysX hardware card and plug it into your PC. How often do I have to say “cool stuff” ?

ShackNews – Interview: Epic’s Mark Rein

[Edit: IGN has some more coverage of the PhysX PC board.]

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Phil Harrison Chat

Next Generation had a chance to chat with Phil Harrison after his GDC keynote last week. Not much was given away in the chat that we didn’t already know, but there were interesting little tidbits.

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.

Next Generation – A Nice Chat with Phil Harrison

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Revolution Specs?

RevolutionIGN is supposedly in the know about the upcoming Revolution’s specs. Here’s the relevant paragraph:

Insiders stress that Revolution runs on an extension of the Gekko and Flipper architectures that powered GameCube, which is why studios who worked on GCN will have no problem making the transition to the new machine, they say. IBM’s “Broadway” CPU is clocked at 729MHz, according to updated Nintendo documentation. By comparison, GameCube’s Gekko CPU ran at 485MHz. The original Xbox’s CPU was clocked at 733MHz. Meanwhile, Xbox 360 runs three symmetrical cores at 3.2GHz.

And:

The overall system memory numbers we reported last December have not greatly fluctuated, but new clarifications have surfaced. Revolution will operate using 24MBs of “main” 1T-SRAM. It will additionally boast 64MBs of “external” 1T-SRAM. That brings the total number of system RAM up to 88MBs, not including the 3MB texture buffer on the GPU. By comparison, GameCube featured 40MBs of RAM not counting the GPU’s on-board 3MBs. The original Xbox included 64MBs total RAM. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 operate on 512MBs of RAM.

Those specs would make the Revolution about as powerful as the original Xbox. Which is not really a next-gen leap. People have been complaining that many Xbox 360 games don’t look next-gen enough compared to what is being done on the PS2 and Xbox today. With specs like these, it’s obvious that Nintendo is not even trying to keep up. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting Nintendo to come out with the most powerful system, but I was expecting something better than the current generation, and I’m now unsure that we’ll even be seeing that.

That new controller better be really good!

IGN – Revolution’s Horsepower

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