Sony's virtual abode, the PlayStation Home, will getting a much needed face lift this Spring, bringing a slew of new features and improvements, that promises to improve the overall experience of the community.
Revealed earlier today at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, PlayStation Home version 1.5 is set to introduce "a suite of new technology with tools that will enhance your experience with real-time multiplayer, improved physics, as well as more realistic graphics and animations."
According to PlayStation Home Community Manager Locust_Star, the upcoming update was developed with one singular goal in mind, to deliver "high-quality games" within the virtual world. With the new suite of tools, developers are expected to utilize and improve the network mechanics of Home to "bolster the multiplayer experience with the fastest action available." The update also revamps the physics engine, "developers will carry more control over physics elements, graphics, rendering and animations, which will translate to more realistic and more intricate game experiences."
Locust_Star also said that "this update is significantly different from what you, the PlayStation Home community, have come to expect from past core client updates." He notes that while versions 1.3 and 1.4 brought user-facing features like Voice Chat, Cross Game Invites, Navigation Improvements, In-Store Previews, New Item Types (such as Active Items and Companions), Optimized Load Times and Universal Game Launching, the upcoming update will be "packed with tools and features that will enable developers to expand the types of games possible on the platform – from first-person shooters with real-time, peer-to-peer multiplayer to kart racers and more. These new developer tools also allow for richer graphics and an overall improvement to frame-rate, which is something on top of everyone’s wish list."
Want a lil' sneak peek of the update? Well check out the trailer of the upcoming Sodium 2: Project Velocity, the follow up to Lockwood Publishing’s high octane tank combat title, Sodium One.
The game, scheduled to arrive the same day when the 1.5 update goes live, takes advantage of the new tools and features that will be included in the upcoming update.
In related news, Sony has also revealed at GDC that their virtual 3D social gaming network, which was launched in late 2008, has now been downloaded over 19 million times, with users spending more than 70 minutes per session - though the firm declined to reveal how many accounts remain active today.
According to Home director Jack Buser, the figures are based on users playing the games which they can access within Home, which now includes around 230. Virtual items are also proving popular, said Buser. Last year the number of items available grew by 110 percent, which could also suggest the firms sudden shift from in-game advertising to in-game purchasing, though Sony still insists that they haven't abandon ad-supported games yet.
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