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In-Game XMB vs In-Game Messaging |

Patrick Steen over at Ripten makes a point. He says that lots of people are asking for in-game XMB, when all they really want is in-game messaging.

Really, do you need to access your settings, photos, videos, the store, etc, while in a game? No, not really. (Though I would like to fiddle with my headset settings.) What you really want is in-game communication. You want to be able to communicate, via headset or messages, with your buddies. If you’re playing Warhawk and get a message from a friend inviting you to play Call of Duty 4, you’d like to be able to read that message and respond. Or if you’re chatting, to be able to talk to someone playing a different game.

That part, I agree with totally.

But then Mr. Steen goes on to say: “Sony is spending so much time making sure that an in-game XMB is perfect โ€” this could take them another year to get everything โ€˜under the hoodโ€™ working to their ridiculously high standards.” I can’t say I agree with that part. As far as I can tell, Sony isn’t working on the full XMB shebang, they’re only working on small parts. How can I tell? If you’re a Sony GAP member (which I am), you can see that a poll Sony recently put up asked about what XMB feature we’d rather see. One of the options was “In-game access to PSN messaging”. Note that it didn’t say “In-game access to the whole XMB shebang”, or even something similar. (And in case you’re curious, the other two options were “Ability to play my own music from the XMB while in-game” and “Larger buddy list and buddy-list features such as categorizing”. Surprisingly, to me, the most popular answer so far is the music feature!) So obviously they see in-game messaging as an atomic feature that they can add to the system, and they seem to be proposing it to us gamers that way.

To sum up, I don’t think Mr. Steen really has anything to worry about. While he complains that maybe Sony is spinning its wheels trying to provide us with stuff we don’t want, I don’t think that’s what’s happening. Do you want to know what I think? I think the problem is memory. Microsoft is a lot better at stuffing features into a small amount of memory than Sony is. The 360’s dashboard takes 32MB of memory while the PS3’s XMB takes more than twice that. So Sony has a memory problem. Since Sony can’t increase the amount of memory being used without pissing off developers, they need to add this feature without increasing the memory footprint. And I think that this is what’s holding Sony up.

Edit: So here’s the list of what we really need from in-game XMB.

  1. Access to the PSN messaging system.
  2. Voice chat across games.
  3. Music access.
  4. Ability to see progress of downloads.
  • One comment sums it up pretty good…

    When user say, we want in-game XMB, they don’t mean system settings but accessing music and messaging. Nothing else. It is just too long to say “we want access to musc and messang while in-game”…

    And I agree, noone needs in-game XMB, we only need access to the messages and (maybe) music, nothing else.

  • I’d like to be able to hit the PS button and jump over to the full XMB to check on a download or another feature, and then go back to the game. There has been several times when my son has been playing a PS2 game, and I’ve wanted to check to see if a download has been done, however we did not want to lose his progress in the PS2 game.

    It’s not a big deal but it would make the system better.

  • MetalProxy

    It simple..JUST LET ME CHECK MY FREAKING MESSAGES and possibly be able to respond,that it. The other stuff is not that important…the music thing wouldnt hurt but its NOT a must.

  • I only care about “Access to the PSN messaging system” others is just a bonus, but not needed. Access to a web browser would be handy at rare times, but other than that ..

  • iFlash

    Most of the time messages come in and they flash away and I have no idea what they say. I have to quit my game to even read it. I hope they have something planned and had the foresight to have seen this as a valuable feature early on.

  • Music is more popular than messaging? Wow, that is surprising. I think that speaks to the traditional user base, which hasn’t been used to the interconnectivity of Live.

  • Sporty

    I agree with Segitz, it’s mainly messaging and music. I don’t see why Sony doesn’t just do a quick and dirty patch for those untill they get the whole thing up.

    But being able to check the PSN store, look at download manager and check out achievements once they launch are also nice.

    I never use custom music on my 360 really, I can see that when doing a long ass grinding session in a RPG though.

  • mpz

    Complaining about ‘ridiculously high standards’? WTF? Has everyone so become used to MS’s crapware that they expect features at any price?

    Sad, sad.

  • Emrah

    I don’t think looking at your holiday photos during a COD4 session is necessary, and even possible at all. Each picture will have different memory footprints, and you’d have to continue to run the game so it needs the mem too. People had lots of problems even with 2.0 firmware, god knows what would happen if they rolled out full XMB functionality ๐Ÿ˜›

    In game music however is different, the player memory footprint should not change however long the music file is, it can be dealt with in a fixed amount of buffer mem, but all this also should not interfere with the game’s intended memory requirements. I remember sony reduced the memory requirements of the OS to make up space for this, but gave this option to developers to make use or not, if I remember correctly..

    What I am wondering is, the theme icons. I am guessing they’ll have to take up fixed amount of mem. I hope they wont be a cause of instability!?

  • Darrin

    I’ve said this before a few times:

    “people are repeating ‘in game XMB’ like some kind of mantra, but what they really want is in-game messaging and friend invite functionality.”

    Also, there might be a more suitable interface for in-game system features that does not use the XMB.

    I don’t doubt Sony’s ability to squeeze functionality into tight RAM limits. The original PSP has a total of 32MB RAM and has a ton of features.

    I do wish they were communicating more with us on the status of these features, but who knows what priorities and roadblocks they face internally.

  • The GAP surveys help them prioritize what they should be taking care of, not what to not deal with. I think eventually full xmb in game will come, but those surveys are to see exactly what about in game xmb is the most important. The biggest hurdle is probably making the os fit in a small enough memory footprint to not impair the games being played, since to have it pull up on demand, is to have it sort of running in the background all the time. I was thinking, a cool thing that probably wont happen is what if your xmb was acessible through remote play on they psp, while you are playing games. It would be like having a cell phone by your side.

  • derrickgott007

    I posted what Ripten wrote on the Playstation Message boards and people got mad and the whole thread dissolved into name calling…..So my research revealed that those people who name called are the ones who want full XMB….

    XMB-Tards is what I am christining them.

  • Thanks for discussing my rant. I’m glad you think I don’t have much to worry about.

    My main issue is with Sony is them holding back. We now have ingame messaging in the Time Shift demo, and Ingame custom soundtracks in High Velocity Bowling.

    This worries me…the tools are there, and developers can use them. So are Sony going to try and make these options available to all games, or does it have to be built into the game itself?

    You’re reasoning here about memory…is spot on. It is the only problem. You mention that Sony uses double the memory to Microsoft – true. But are they actually using it at this moment. No they are not. The 86MB is there for future applications like this and HOME (I believe they are holding out these features for HOME). My sources tell me that the ingame keyboard takes up almost 20MB of memory alone…they need to cut that down by a lot.

    Let’s hope they hurry up, because suffering Warhawk without ingame messaging is hurting more and more everyday.

    Thanks again,