Opening the Develop Online day of the Develop in Brighton conference, SCEE’s Darren Cairns and Liam Wickham made clear the intention behind Sony’s upcoming Home virtual world.
While often described as a social network for the PlayStation 3, Cairns and Wickham said: "Home is not a social network – it’s focused on games. It’s a visual representation of the PlayStation community."
The focus of the talk – and, indeed, seemingly the new focus in Home itself – was on the game launching capabilities, essentially serving as grand-scale party forming and lobby facility for PlayStation 3 games.
Describing the workflow of getting game launching to work, the SCEE staff explained that developers can use the Home Development Kit to author a Game Launch Object which gets submitted to servers and is downloaded by clients looking to launch a game. Through Lua scripting, developers can bring the game setup options – such as number of public player slots and choice of map / game rules – into Home itself.
Based on the selections, the Game Launch Object writes out XML files with session details and players. The console then resets and loads into the game (either stored on the HDD or on Blu-Ray), which reads the XML file and launches directly into the multiplayer game. Once play has finished, control can be yielded back to Home for post-match discussion.
Regarding the roll-out of the service, they mentioned that the closed beta would be expanding imminently and that open beta is still scheduled to roll out this year. The recently-added PSN trophies will be supported in player profiles, but the large-scale 3D trophies and trophy room demonstrated at Sony’s 2007 Game Developers Conference keynote.