Friday, June 30, 2006

PS3 Version Of Virtua Fighter 5 Already Playable.

One of SEGA's big E3 surprises was the PS3 version of Virtua Fighter 5. In the latest issue of Japan's Ge-Maga, SEGA-AM2 president Hiroshi Kataoka shared some thoughts on the home conversion of his team's latest arcade fighter. Joining him was Sega R&D 4 Section Chief Noriyuki Shimoda, producer of the PS3 version.
VF5 was shown in arcade form at E3. "We actually wanted to show off the PS3 version," said Kataoka, "but due to some schedule problems, we were unable to".

The game is currently running in an advanced state on PS3 hardware, he revealed. Currently, the game is at a place where it can be played, but 'home specific' features are gong to be added from here on out.
One area of concern for the home version is what happens when people play on a standard 4x3 television. This apparently isn't an issue at all, according to Kataoka. "The arcade version was made to be compatible both with wide and standard monitors, so with that meaning, there's nothing to worry about." VF5 is currently on test in Japanese arcades, with all machines featuring high definition widescreen displays.

The two were asked for commentary on the PS3 itself. "My feeling is that, when considering its capabilities, it's not expensive," said Kataoka. "If that hardware was released not as PlayStation, but under the Vaio brand, and you got a Blu-Ray drive, a Cell chip and the latest NVIDIA GPU for under 100,000 yen, you'd definitely call it cheap. However, there are surely many people who buy it with the image of a game machine, and that price is pretty daring.In response to the question of whether it would've been better for Sony to have removed the hard disk in exchange for a lower price, Shimoda said, "No, I'm very thankful that it has a hard disk. It's not the case that Blu-ray's transfer speed is fast compared to DVD, and with the increase in the data amount, we were worried about just how long load times would take. If we cache data to the hard disk, the loading time drops dramatically".

Ge-Maga asked the big question. Why PS3 only? Kataoka took this one. "There is the fact that VF4 had already been released on the PS2, but another big reason is that the Lindbergh and PS3 GPUs are both from NVIDIA, so the technical barriers are low.

Also, VF5 is tuned to the limits of the Lindbergh's capabilities, so multiplatform development would have been difficult."These two aren't picking on the PS3's competition, though. "I believe that if development is done with multiplatform in mind, there probably won't be a difference in the abilities of the PS3 and X360," said Kataoka.

Giving props to the arcades, though, he added, "Recently, there have been a lot of arcade games that use special interfaces and the network, so ports have been getting harder and harder.

Especially with VF5, there are many elements that can only be enjoyed in the arcade, so we're required to offer other forms of play for the home version".

Just what those home specific additions are will likely be revealed close to the September Tokyo Game Show.

Sony's Hirai Comments On PS3 Game Prices.

Sony Computer Entertainment America president Kaz Hirai has commented on the potential price of PS3 software for the first time, as part of an interview printed in the August issue of consumer publication PSM Magazine.

When asked whether PS3 games would be priced in the same range as X360 titles (currently $59.99 for most high budget titles), Hirai suggested that: “Generally speaking, over the past twelve years or so, there has been a consumer expectation that disc based games are maybe $59 on the high end to $39 on the low end. So, what I can say now is, I think it would be a bit of a stretch to think that we could suddenly turn around and say ‘PS3 games now $99.99’."

The price of video games is currently a subject of great debate in the industry, with publishers such as Activision maintaining that a price increase is needed to cover next generation development costs. Conversely, many developers feel games are too expensive.

Hirai continued his answer by saying, “I don't think consumers expect software pricing to suddenly double. So, the quick answer is that we want to make it as affordable as possible, knowing that there is a set consumer expectation for what software has cost for the past twelve years. That's kind of the best answer I can give you. So, if it becomes a bit higher than $59, don't ding me, but, again, I don't expect it to be $100.”

Thursday, June 29, 2006

New Wipeout Game in Development for PS3

Sony's UK studio is looking for a senior/lead designer to help bring Wipeout to the PS3 platform. This would all but confirm that the next game in the series appears to be in development.


Senior/Lead Designer - URGENT

Wipeout is the most revered, innovative and respected arcade/action racing franchise of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios.

The Task
To have a key role in realising future iterations of Wipeout on PSP and PS3.

Being instrumental in defining & maintaining the creative direction of a major SCEE franchise.

Have a good understanding of the games market & the ability to identify the key factors in producing commercially successful products.

Be aware of the needs of the global target audience & be able to deliver designs which satisfy those needs.

Prior Experience

A strong track record of leading major projects.

Responsibility for the creative direction of at least one commercially successful shipped product.

Personal Qualities

Ability to generate original and innovate ideas.

An interest in contemporary trends in art, design and music would be an advantage.
Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

Though pretty much expected this is the first proof that a next-gen version of Wipeout is in (or will soon be) development for the PS3.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


In A Interview with Stephen White, Co-President and Lead Programmer at Santa Monica, CA-based videogame developer Naughty Dog about creating games for the next-generation consoles … and he offered some suggestions for dealing with next-gen hurdles.

Q. Naughty Dog is known for the “ Crash Bandicoot” and “ Jak and Daxter” franchises which have sold over 35 million units combined. What have been the fundamental keys to the success of your titles and how do you plan to apply those to your next-generation game development?

A. One of the biggest factors in the making of a successful game is hiring very talented people who are motivated and can get the job done without the need for extensive management and finely detailed schedules. Instead of throwing a lot of bodies at a problem and having pure managers manage those bodies, we have fewer people and our managers works directly on product as either artists, programmers, or designers. For example, people are often surprised to find out that we have no internal producers at Naughty Dog. It's not that we are anti-producer since there are certainly some fine producers in the industry but so far, we haven't needed to fill a purely producer role. Being “in the trenches,” our managers can make important decisions quickly with a good understanding of potential repercussions. Our staffing and management strategy has allowed us to adapt intelligently and efficiently and, as a result, we have a great work environment, we make polished games, and we never miss our ship date.

Q. How have the technical specs of the PS3 created hurdles for developers and how is Naughty Dog dealing with those hurdles?

A. The biggest hurdle is that more power means more things are possible and with more possibilities come more overall work and more difficult problems to solve. Our ultimate goal is to create a game that becomes a technical landmark for the hardware. For the PS1, we created “Crash Bandicoot” which featured streaming, highly detailed, real-time environments. For the PS2, we created “Jak and Daxter” with its organic, wide open, free-roaming environments using an extensive level of detail and data-streaming technology. For the PS3, we again want to create an experience that the consumer hasn't had before. We want to really push the machine in several areas so some of our systems are becoming several orders of magnitude harder. Our programming staff is relatively small so, to achieve our goals, we are very actively searching for additional programming talent.

Q. What improvements will the powerful capabilities of next-gen consoles make in next-gen games and do they outweigh the extra effort that needs to go into making those games?

A. I'm more excited about the next-gen system than I've been about any system in my nearly 20 years of programming professionally. The PS3 has the muscle to allow us to do many things that I've spoken wistfully about doing for years but that have been unachievable on past hardware. As an example, we are in the early stages of a huge evolution in graphics due to advances in pixel and vertex shader technology. While shader technology is certainly not unique to the PS3, people are going to be blown away by the stunning visuals and immersive experiences of PS3 games once developers start grasping the possibilities of this technology. The other thing I'm most excited about is the raw processing power of the Cell processor chip which opens up many possibilities for stunning visuals and new gameplay experiences not previously possible. Animation alone will undoubtedly go through a tremendous evolution in sophistication. I occasionally reminisce about the simpler days when making a game only took a few months and a handful of people, but I feel blessed to be in the industry at a time when so many epic and immersive things are possible. Ultimately, the most important component of a good game is gameplay, but we've sure come along way since “Pong.”

Q. How is Naughty Dog addressing the issue of growing team sizes as you make the jump to the next-gen technology?

A. Hiring is absolutely our biggest issue right now. We have a desperate need for talented programmers, artists, and designers. In the not-too-distant past, we did all of our own recruitment, but now we have come to rely on recruitment services like Digital Artist Management to find the talent we need. We are also very actively developing technology, tools, and methodologies to make things easier to create the code and content of our games, thus reducing the total number of additional people that need to be hired. We are focused on making easier-to-use tools and increasing our ability to iterate rapidly.

Q. Do you have any advice for other developers who are ramping up for the PS3?

A. Consider middleware and other forms of shared technology. This is not a knock against the PS3 since this is my advice regardless of the next-gen platform -- especially if you are developing cross-platform. As I mentioned, more power means more possibilities which means more complexity. The bar in terms of technology is being raised so very high that many studios will not have the time or staff to both make the game and the fundamental technology behind the game. Using various forms of middleware or other shared technology will allow those studios to more quickly prototype and focus on gameplay.

PlayStation Boss Pooh-Poohs 360 Lead.

By the time the PS3 launches in November, Microsoft believes it will have sold around 10 million Xbox 360, reaching a threshold, it says, that will help the console stave off the competition. This doesn't bother Sony much.

PlayStation's American boss, Jack Tretton, told business site 'The Street' that Sony has never gone first in the race to launch in each generation and it's not been a problem in the past.

"At the end of the day, what you do in the first year, and whether you do 6 or 10 million units does not determine whether you're successful or not," he said.

"We're looking to sell 100 million-plus worldwide. We're looking to sell 50 million plus in North America. So, if a competitor gets to 6 to 10 million worldwide, I would not consider that to be a significant advantage or a significant disadvantage as far as we're concerned."

Tretton also had bitter words about Microsoft, saying that if his company had lost the kind of money that Microsoft had in launching Xbox and now Xbox 360, Sony would have rethought staying involved in games.

Bluray & HD-DVD Hybrid.

Samsung & Toshiba have joined forces to end the format wars for good. They are releasing a hybrid player that plays both Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats.

Interestingly, it appears that Samsung is calling Sony's bluff - under the licensing agreement for Blu-ray, parters aren't allowed to dabble in HD-DVD. It seems that Samsung is testing whether Sony will really push that.

So, where does that situation leave Sony, the main backer of Blu-ray technology? Sony has quietly built a safety net as well - just in case Blu-ray does'nt become a success.

Sony & NEC are also releasing a dual-format player of Blu-ray and HD-DVD. This is good back-up for Sony, since they did lose the Betamax Vs VHS format war..

Why is this happening? Sony’s contract for partners says that they can’t release HD-DVD hardware.

It looks to me that both Sony & Toshiba are covering there backs,and both are unsure which format will win so having ties in both Bluray & HD-DVD.

It’s all a mystery. It is unclear if this will affect the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360.

Sony is delaying the launch of regular Blu-ray players so when the PS3 is out, people will notice that it’s quite cheap. For a Blu-ray player.

Phil Harrison: PS3 Easier To Develop For Than PS2.

In the OPM article, the interviewer tells Harrison that the PS2 is "notoriously hard to develop for."

Harrison responds by saying that belief is a "self-fulfilling prophecy" and that Microsoft has "banged on that drum [until] it became conventional wisdom"."

But Harrison says it isn't so. "With the original PlayStation," Harrison explains, "we had very rich and fully featured [software resource] libraries for developers to program with".

But soon developers grew tired of working with Sony's pre-selected code libraries and wanted to "write direct to the metal" for maximum performance, a request Sony granted with the PlayStation somewhat mixed results, according to Harrison, as that technique was a "bit hard" to program with.

But not so with the PS3's Cell chip, which is "completely different". Rather than require programmers to develop specialized skills, Harrison explains in the piece, they utilize "general-purpose programming languages" to make for a smoother, less demanding coding process.

"The PlayStation 3 is, definitely, easier and cheaper to develop for, relative to the same period on the PS2," Harrison says.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Too Little Too Late? Toshiba "Still Seeking" Bluray And HD-DVD Unity.

We're not sure how to take this. Just as Bluray launches, with its own HD-DVD players having already been on store shelves for some time, now Toshiba wants to hold out the olive branch again.

We're no quite sure how to interpret this move. Even as Blu-ray struggles with underwhelming launch titles and delays, they still hold the trump card of higher capacity, possibly higher burning speed, and more movie studio support.

Maybe Toshiba sees this as the best time to cut a deal, maybe not. We already have reports that they are spending a lot of money to make sure HD-DVD gains acceptance, but what is the long term strategy?

The statement was made by company president Atsutoshi Nishida at an annual shareholder meeting, interestingly timed just after Sony CEO Howard Stringer remarked on his companies "high-risk" strategy for PS3 & Bluray victory.

Stringer kept up the company line, referring to their competitor as a transitional product, and Bluray the future-proof standard for years to come.

Whatever the case may be, from here it certainly seems like Toshiba is looking for a ship that has sailed.

This close to their Playstation 3 launch Sony would be giving up their primary advantage by unifying, or risk further delaying the system to add compatibility.

While HDTV owners can certainly see that a format war is stupid, will slow growth and adoption of both, and cost everyone more money, if the two sides couldn't figure things out when they were negotiating last year there is little reason to believe they will now.

Sony's Blu-Ray Player Slips Again To Late October.

The first Blu-Ray player from Sony, the BDP-S1, has been pushed back to an October 25th release date - meaning that the firm's consumer Blu-Ray product line will not appear until only weeks before the arrival of the PS3.

The BDP-S1 had most recently been scheduled for a mid-August launch date, and the new delay of over two months puts the release of the player curiously close to the PS3 which will be appearing only weeks later in mid-November.

It had been assumed that Sony and its partners would want to launch Blu-Ray players and content into the market well ahead of the arrival of PS3, in order to ensure that the standard was understood by consumers by the time the less expensive Next-Gen Console appeared which also doubles up as a Bluray player.

However, with the ongoing delays to the BDP-S1, it now appears that the PS3 is set to be a very early standard bearer for the high definition Blu-Ray discs which may reflect simply a failure by Sony to get its hardware manufacturing timescales right, but equally could represent a change of strategy on the part of the Japanese consumer electronics giant.

The BDP-S1 is due to launch at a price point of $999.95 in North America, significantly more expensive than the PlayStation 3, which also offers Blu-Ray playback alongside its capabilities as a videogame console.

Toshiba's rival HD-DVD standard, meanwhile, is currently staggering onto the market, but so far the consumer response to both next-gen DVD systems seems largely apathetic, and it remains to be seen whether there is anything remotely compelling in the content line-up for either standard come Christmas.

Will history repeat itself and the PS3 do for Bluray what the PS2 did for DVD, only time will tell.

Wii Chip Orders Boost Profit Forecast For NEC.

Japanese electronics manufacturer NEC Corp has forecast a 5 billion Yen operating profit for fiscal 2007, boosted by increased demand for its semiconductors in products including the Nintendo Wii.

Japan's third-largest chip manufacturer has successfully reduced production and development costs, securing contracts to supply chips for Sony's Bravia flat-panel televisions, Toshiba's DVD recorders and Nintendo's forthcoming console, Wii.

If the company meets its projections, it will mark the first operating profit in over a year, a substantial difference from the 35.7 billion Yen loss in fiscal 2006. NEC has already committed to upgrading its Yamagata factory production to meet Nintendo's demand for the Wii's LSI (large-scale integration) chips, expecting to complete the changes by September.

In an additional link with Nintendo and its new console, NEC will be partnering with Hudsonsoft to offer Turbo-Grafx-16 titles, which will be made available to download via Nintendo's Virtual Console service.

Shares in NEC rose sharply following the announcement, showing the largest gain in more than four months for the company. NEC is set to increase it spending on equipment to 100 billion Yen this year, planning to produce more than 11,000 semiconductor units per month as the firm battles its way back towards profitability.

No Plans For Xbox 360 Price Drop, Says MS Exec.

John Porcaro, group manager of PR and communications for Microsoft US, has reacted to persistent rumours by reiterating that the company has no current plans to cut the price of the Xbox 360.

In a post on his blog, Porcaro wrote: "As you’re all aware, there have been rumors of a price drop for the Xbox 360 coming along later this year. The official word from folks in the know is that there are currently no plans for a price drop this fall."
"If you’ve been holding off picking one up because you think they’ll be cheaper in the future, or they’ve been hard to find.

I think Microsoft will have a problem shifting Xbox 360's at that same price once the PS3 has launched.The PS3 may be more expensive but ya get more bang for ya bucks.

Cell Processor Designed To Run Multiple OS's.

The Cell processor was originally designed from the ground up as a computer processor and not specifically for gaming. The Cell processor was created in a way to allow the running of muliple operating systems concurently using the different cells.
The lowest Level Cell kernel, alled Level 0, is a proprietary layer implemented mainly for security reasons, Kutaragi says -- PS3 game developers will no longer be able to directly control the hardware.

A Level 1 OS will include device drivers and a Real-Time Kernel and scheduler, and will provide all the APIs needed by real-time game developers.

A Level 2 OS(also called a guest OS Layer) might be Linux, a PC OS(Windows/OS X), or a Playstation OS, depending on how the user wishes to apply the device. Sony and its ISV (independent software vendor) and gaming content partners will sell guest OS's on interchangeable, removable hard drives pre-installed with task-based operating systems of various kinds.

What lies Under the PS3 Trunk?

The PS3 has been causing waves eversince it was first introduced last year. And Sony has caused fanboys to even be more excited with their Next-Gen Console when they offically announced it in this year's E3.
Official specs have been revealed but this didn't stop the video gaming public from speculating that there may still be some PS3 features Sony hasn't announced and that more can still be expected from the upcoming console.Sean Nunan was one of them.

Looking at the PS3 and seeing a trunk-like flap (highlighted in red in the image above) at the front of the console, he became curious about a couple of things: Does it open? If yes, how? And what lies beneath? Sean Nunan may be one creative genius because his questions led him to come up with a few mock-ups of what must be underneath that trunk. Here are his speculations...

Removing the flap

Speculation 1: Trunk cover is removed by sliding it from the unit.

Speculation 2: Just like the trunk of a car, the flap is flipped up.

What's underneath it?

Speculation 1: memory Stick and SD Card slots.

Speculation 2: A card slot for the Sony Online Network where all your account details like balance is stored.

Something about the side buttons.

Speculation 1: The On/Off and Disk Eject buttons are feather touch sensitive.

I'm pretty sure, other fans have been questioning about the trunk as well; or if not, these ideas from Sean Nunan may surely open up a lot of other bright inputs.

Sony's Developer Muscle.

For quite a while now Nintendo has survived almost entirely on the strength of its talented first party developers, through the rough times they kept the company afloat with technically brilliant and creatively rich titles that truly made Nintendo gamers feel their console was a worthwhile investment. When the original Playstation debuted,Sony's approach was a little different, they courted just about everyone to make games for the system, and over the years Sony picked a number of those who had developed standout titles and provided partial funding for their studios and titles, eventually snapping them up as first party developers. Fast forward to present day and Sony's amassed quite a wealth of developer talent.

Let's have a look at just a few of these talented folks and what they're cooking up for Sony's new super machine.

Naughty Dog:Founded in 1986 by two 16 year old kids named Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin, the company, then named "JAM" had its name officially changed in 1989. Famous for their astounding technical ability, Naughty Dog gave us Crash Bandicoot during the PlayStation era (which actually went under the working title of Willy the Wombat - talk about dodging a bullet!) and the Jak series during the PS2 generation. They're currently working on an untitled project for the PS3, and little is known of it save for the fact that it centers around the search for a hidden treasure of some kind, and that it likely showcases what can truly be expected of the PS3. - [Hotness Factor of 9.8]

Zipper Interactive:Founded in 1995 by Jim Bosler and Brian Soderberg, Zipper gave us the PC hits MechWarrior 3 and Crimson Skies. They've since gained widespread fan and critical acclaim with their SOCOM US Navy Seal's series of PS2 games. They were acquired in January of 2006 by SCEA and are currently working on... surprise, surprise, a SOCOM game for the PS3. - [Hotness Factor of 8.2]

Sony Santa Monica:These are the guys that gave us the delightfully cuddly and upbeat character of Kratos and the high speed future dualcycle racing game Kinetica. They also house Incognito Entertainment, the guys behind Twisted Metal: Black, and War of the Monsters, they're currently working on the PS3 launch title, Warhawk. They collaborate frequently with creator David Jaffe, who played the role of director on God Of War and has an upcoming PSP game codenamed HL currently in development. - [Hotness Factor of 8.5]

Guerrilla Games:Dutch first party developer formerly known as Lost Boys Games until 2003. They rose to fame with the release of Killzone for PS2, which was labeled (wrongfully so) a "Halo killer." This move that likely hurt the final product but did much to thrust Guerrilla into the public eye. They also developed the ill received Shellshock: Nam'67 for the PS2 using the same game engine. Many argue that given more time and perhaps a bigger budget Guerrilla could have fashioned Killzone, which had a fascinating premise and mythology, into something great. Looks like those guys get their wish, Guerrilla was acquired by Sony in December of 2005 and are currently working on another Killzone sequel for the PS3. Also under production is a title for the PSP called Killzone: Liberation. Guerrilla's hotness factor is difficult to gauge as the company has always showed promise, and with more powerful hardware they could have done wonders, it's also worth mentioning that the company has grown in number and talent exponentially since Killzone - [Hotness Factor of 8.0]

Polyphony Digital:Formerly known as Polys Entertainment, they developed Omega Boost and the Motor Toon Grand Prix series for PS1 but hit it real big with Gran Turismo. Since then Polyphony has been habitually late with game releases, but the end product is always worth it. There's a lot expected from Polyphony this time around as gamers and critics alike want to see its flagship franchise undergo more than just a graphical overhaul. So far all we've seen from them is a rushed E3 2006 PS3 prototype demonstration called Gran Turismo HD, but keep your eyes peeled for the arrival of the Real Driving Simulator some time soon. - [Hotness Factor of 9.7]

Studio Liverpool:Founded as Psygnosis in 1986, they went on to create the critically acclaimed Wipeout series of games which helped establish the original PS1 as a force to be reckoned with. They were acquired by Sony in 1993 and the Psygnosis label was dropped in 1999. Their first PS2 game was Formula One 2001, which they've followed up with yearly updates since. They've only produced one Wipeout game on the platform, Wipeout Fusion, which was not very well received, but have since returned to futuristic hover vehicle racing form with the excellent Wipeout Pure for PSP. They're currently working on a Formula One game for PS3 and are rumored to be developing the next game in the Wipeout franchise (of course). - [Hotness Factor of 8.2]

Sony Online Entertainment:Started out as SISA (Sony Interactive Studios America) in 1995. They developed EverQuest, PlanetSide and Star Wars Galaxies, all massively multiplayer games for the PC platform. Despite what you might think judging from the name, SOE has little to do with SCEA (Sony Computer Entertainment America) or the newly formed SCEWW (Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios), they're actually a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Digital and have a few internal teams of their own including Soga Interactive, Fire Ant (SOE-Seattle) and Verant Interactive (SOE-Austin). They also collaborated with Sony on setting up the PlayStation 3's proposed counter to Xbox Live, currently known as the PlayStation Network Platform. [Hotness Factor of 8.0]

Other than its numerous first party developers, Sony also has quite a few trusted studios that are... shall we say, not quite family. Often referred to as second party developers, they regularly produce titles exclusive to the PlayStation platform.

Insomniac Games:Surprise! Insomniac, contrary to popular belief are not a first party Sony developer. They have however worked extremely closely with Sony and Naughty Dog in particular over the years. The company was founded in 1994 and its first title was the critically loved first person shooter, Disruptor for the PS1. It followed this with the successful Spyro franchise of games before creating Ratchet and Clank for Sony's next generation system, the PS2. The company is now preparing a PS3 launch title known as Resistance: Fall of Man, and also has a PS3 iteration of its Ratchet and Clank series in the works. It's also kinda nifty to note that Insomniac has been highlighted as one of the best places to work in the US - [Hotness Factor of 9.7]

Sucker Punch:Sucker Punch also shares some sort of working relationship with Insomniac, and the company that brought us the lovable Sly Cooper and his cantankerous crew of kleptomaniacal friends is undoubtedly working on something for PS3, we just don't know what yet. The company's history actually dates back to roots at Microsoft, where a few of the initial team members worked on productivity software, but shared a deep love of games. They left Microsoft in 1997 to form Sucker Punch, and released their first game for the Nintendo 64, Rocket: Robot on Wheels, the rest is history. - [Hotness Factor of 9.2]

Evolution Studios:Founded in 1999 by Martin Kenwright and former Psygnosis co-founder, Ian Hetherington, the UK based studio brought us the phenomenal World Rally Championship and Word Rally Evolution games. I guess that means their first PS3 title, Motorstorm, planned to launch alongside the console is in good hands. - [Hotness Factor of 9.0]

Ninja Theory:Something of a true fairy tale this one. Ninja Theory was formed in 2004 from the ashes of the former development company Just Add Monsters, the guys behind Kung Fu Chaos for the Xbox. The team's long in development premiere next generation title, Heavenly Sword was been searching for a publisher for a number of years before Sony swooped in to provide publishing and support for the title. It was once a launch title, but looks to have slipped into 2007. - [Hotness Factor.9.5]

Just about all these studios are now benefitting from Sony's new SCEWW (Sony Computer Entertainment World Wide Studios) initiative, in which multiple studios across the globe are able to collaborate and share advice, ideas and tools. Some wonder about Sony's arrogance in the face of losing exclusives such as Grand Theft Auto 4, but with this kind of talent working on games for Sony, it becomes a little easier to understand where that bravado comes from.

Monday, June 26, 2006

PS3 Too Use Custom Heat Pipes for cooling Cell & RSX.

Sony’s Ken Kutaragi said that because of the power of the Cell processor and the RSX graphics chip, PlayStation 3 will use a custom cooling solution, with heat pipes.

Heat pipes conduct the heat much faster than conventional cooling, and are commonly used to cool high-end PCs.

Ninja Gaiden Black For PS3.

In the most recent issue of EGM (Electronic Gaming Monthly), there was a small note about Ninja Gaiden Black being ported to the PS3 next spring.

There has not been any offical confirmation from Tecmo or Team Ninja.

Team Ninja is perfectly capable of bringing this rumor to realisation and have Ninja Gaiden become multiplatform.

There were statements earlier this year from Tomonobu Itagaki, head of Team Ninja stating that he would wait and see what Sony will offer before he makes any decisions.

Knowing Team Ninja and their hunger for incredible graphics they must have been impressed with the showing of the PS3 at E3 last month.

More Than Meets The Eye Toy.

Gaming site has revealed some interesting news regarding Sony's PlayStation 3 Eye Toy. According to a "MegaGames Friend" Sony still has an ace of innovation up their sleeve. This ace is called 'Prime Sense'.

Prime Sense is defined as: "A device, which allows a computer to perceive the world in 3D and derive an understanding of the world based on sight, just the way humans do.

"The article goes on to say that, "The device includes a sensor, which sees a user (including their complete surroundings), and a digital component, or "brain" which learns and understands user movement within those surroundings".

"Prime Sense’s interactive device can see, track and react to user movements outside the computer, all without change of environment or wearable equipment for the end user. The closed device is plug and play and platform independent".

So how does all this information about Prime Sense tie in with the PS3? All we can say is that the Next-Gen Eye Toy will be smart. It will be able to recognize the user, his/her entire environment and their movements, then incorporate those recognitions into console gaming.

If this source proves true, Sony could very well have all the innovation they need to steal Nintendo's spot in the limelight.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sonic The Hedgehog Celebrates 15th Anniversary.

Sega has announced that its azure speedster Sonic the Hedgehog turns 15 years old yesterday. The character was first introduced to North America on June 23, 1991 in Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis as a way for the company to combat Nintendo's flagship character Mario. Since then, he has gone on be featured in numerous game titles that have sold more than 44 million units worldwide.

To celebrate Sonic's birthday, Sega announced that it will release a number of new titles featuring the blue mascot, for next-generation platforms as well as for the PSP. Additionally, Sega will release Sonic The Hedgehog Genesis, featuring the original 16-bit game, exclusively for the Game Boy Advance this November. The game will feature two new additions to the classic debut, including Sonic’s Spin-Dash move and a new save ability, and will feature a MSRP of $19.95.

Sonic will make his first appearance on next-gen consoles with Sonic The Hedgehog for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 this fall. Sonic will also debut this fall on the PSP with Sonic Rivals, a one-on-one racing platformer that also features other characters from the series such as Knuckles. Finally, Sega will release Sonic Wild Fire, a retelling of the classic tale Arabian Nights, in 2007 for the Wii.

Sony PS3 Will Be The First Device To Utilise Newly-Approved HDMI 1.3.

The group that founded HDMI has today introduced an upgraded version of the technology, now called HDMI 1.3.

Sony's Playstation 3 will be the first device to support HDMI 1.3, which will offer more than twice the bandwidth of HDMI 1.1 (from 4.95Gbps to 10.2Gbps).

This means that future HDMI 1.3 displays will be able to show billions of colours, rather than millions.

Audio support has also been increased to lossless formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, rather than the current compressed formats of Dolby Digital and DTS.

Consumers who have already invested in HD technology will be pleased to note that products that implement HDMI 1.3 will be backward compatible with HDMI 1.1.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sony Loses Appeal In Customs And Excise Case.

Sony has lost its five year legal battle to have the PlayStation 2 classified as a computer rather than a games console after the Court of Appeal ruled against the company.

As a result, Sony will not be entitled to the estimated GBP 34.2 million (50 million Euro) rebate for import duties that would have been payable had the court determined that the PS2 is a "digital processing unit".

Although games consoles are no longer subject to EU import charges, they were between 2001 and 2004 - while computers have always been exempt.

The appeal was dismissed by Lord Justice Chadwick, who denied Sony the right to take the case to the European Court of Justice.

In his ruling, the judge also took the opportunity to criticise Sony's lawyers for producing a skeleton argument which "goes beyond what can be regarded as acceptable written advocacy" and "exceeds the bounds of propriety."

"I am not here protesting about its inordinate length, nor about its discursive quality, nor about its frequent and unnecessary resort to hyperbole; although all those unappealing features are present," the judge continued.

"My concern is with the repeated aspersions that are cast in that document on the intellectual honesty of the High Court Judge from whose decision this appeal is brought... Fearless advocacy is one thing; intemperate advocacy is another."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Immersion Offers To Rumble PS3.

Many were surprised to hear that the PlayStation 3 controller would not support a rumble feature, as it has become an expected part of the modern gaming experience. Both the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii support the technology, meaning Sony's console will be the only next-gen system without a rumble-enabled controller.

Sony's explanation for the feature's absence is that the vibration interferes with new motion-sensing technology being implemented into the controller. But this claim conflicts with news from developer Immersion, who has just finished work on a new vibration effect that can function alongside motion-sensing features.

Says Immersion: "The new TouchSense technology is compatible with motion control and tilt-sensing to allow players to control certain game actions by moving or tilting a handheld controller. Because the speed at which a user moves the controller is much slower than the frequencies generated by TouchSense technology, the two signals can be differentiated using filtering and other techniques. Immersion also offers engineering services to implement the technology within a particular console system.

"Don't expect Sony to give Immersion a call anytime soon, however, as the two companies have been entangled in a lawsuit in which Sony was found guilty of patent infringement over the use of rumble in its DualShock controller and was ordered to pay Immersion $90.7 million.

That this litigation is the true cause of Sony's decision to withhold a rumble feature from its new controller has been a popular theory among industry insiders, but it's a claim that has never been substantiated. As of this writing the company could not be reached for comment. What we do know is the PS3 controller could, apparently, include vibration if Sony wanted it to.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Sony Dismisses Rumours Of PS3 Downgrade.

A Sony spokesperson speaking to Eurogamer website has dismissed rumours that the PlayStation 3's hardware specs are to be downgraded as "ridiculous."

A report on website Games Radar claimed that Sony was having trouble fitting all the PS3's components within the console case without risk of overheating. The article also suggested that the Cell processor could run at a lower speed than originally stated.

But Sony spokesperson Jonathan Fargher told Eurogamer: "The PS3 downgrade story is categorically not true.

"Developers have been working with PS3 dev kits for anywhere between eight and 12 months, and to suggest that we'd now take the decision to downgrade the hardware at such a late stage, is, well, ridiculous.

"Worse still is the suggestion that we couldn't fit all the technical components into a plastic box," Fargher continued.

"Granted, whilst all products are not perfect, we do have over 40 years of experience making consumer electronics equipment, and therefore, extensive experience in making things fit - PSone and Slimline PS2 being just two examples of that."

The PlayStation 3 is set to hit shops in Japan on November 11th, with US and European launches to follow on November 17th.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

PS2 Still Outselling X360 In US.

Like a good soccer match, the monthly sales battles between the X360 and the PS2 have a lot of exciting back-and-forth. So far, however, the PS2 has remained in control of the match, outselling the X360 in six of the seven months since the X360's debut. The situation is a strong reminder that Sony's PS3 gamble, while huge, has a little more cushioning than is commonly recognized.

Since the release of the X360, Microsoft has averaged 246,000 console sales each month in the US, while the PS2 has seen an average of 473,000 units—a number bolstered by an estimated 1.5 million sales in December alone. Leaving out December, Sony's average drops to 302,000 per month, still outpacing the X360 by a healthy margin.

According to sales estimates from the NPD Group (conveniently collected here and there), the X360 won its first sales victory against the PS2 in April, outselling Sony's offering by nearly 90,000 units (295,000 units in all). The end of Microsoft's supply problems may have accounted for the leap in sales, but May estimates showed a return to more settled buying trends: X360 sales decreased by 74,000 units, while the PS2 climbed to more than 231,000 units total, recapturing the lead with roughly 11,000 more consoles sold.

In short, Sony's PS2 sales remain remarkably strong, and with recent price cuts trimming the system down to US$129, sales are expected to stay strong throughout the year. Sony has sold more than 100 million PS2s, and this year they can expect to add another three million from the US market alone.

The PS2 market isn't "winding down" in any meaningful sense.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

PS3's HDMI Upgraded To Support 'Deep Color' .

The High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) specification, a key component of digital television, has been upgraded to support "deep color," the group controlling the interface said Monday.

HDMI LLC, which was founded by Hitachi, Matsushita Electric (Panasonic), Royal Philips Electronics, Silicon Image, Sony Corporation, Thomson and Toshiba Corporation, oversees the HDMI interface, which has served as the multimedia interface for digital television. Over 400 firms have licensed the technology, and the firm estimates that 1 billion HDMI-compliant devices will be available by 2009.

Under the new HDMI 1.3 specification, the clock speed will be increased from 165 MHz to over 225 MHz, said HDMI president of licensing Leslie Chard. The increased bandwidth will allow support for 1080 x 60 Hz displays with 36-bit RGB color, or a 1080p display with a 90 Hz refresh rate. Technically, the specification leaves room for clock rates of up to 450 MHz, Chard said.

The new standard will add a new upgrade path for digital television owners and buyers. Very early DTVs lacked an HDMI connection, leaving early consumers with concerns over whether or not they would be able to play protected content. Now, the new specification promises an enhanced level of detail for next-generation content. According to Chard, a few early adopters should announce products soon, Chard said, with "lots of products by the end of the year," in time for Christmas, he said.

The key addition to the new specification has been the support for 30-, 36-, and 48-bit RGB or "deep" color, a specifcation that extends color depths beyond the capability of the human eye to perceive them.

The ITU 601 standard, which governs today's displays, allows only 60 to 80 percent of the available colors, even if the display can support more, Chard said. "The color bit depth [of today's displays] is typically 24-bits RGB – that gets you 16 million colors, and the human eye can distinguish that," Chard said. "That leads to scaling and onscreen effects which you can pick up. Either 36-bit or 48-bit RGB is beyond the ability of the human eye to distinguish."

Sony's upcoming PlayStation 3 will support deep color, Chard said, and PC graphics companies like ATI and Nvidia can bake the technology fairly easily into its cards, he said. Although the "deep color" provision was added with the next-generation Blu-Ray and HD-DVD specifications in mind, no formal announcement of support has been made by either camp.

We don't have a public announcement, but it's natural to assume as standards get big and are accepted that they may be used," Chard said.

"Anybody going to have an HD-DVD or Blu-Ray drive needs to have an HDMI output," Chard added. "Anyone who's claiming to have a media notebook needs to have this."

The new color depths will be consistent with the new "xvYCC" color scheme which was adopted as a standard by the International Electrotechnical Commission in January. Sony showed off a xvYCC-compliant 82-inch LCD at this year's CES.

The standard will also add support for Dolby HD and DTS-HD audio. The audio will be combined with a lip-sync compensation feature to synchronize the audio and visual channels -- not actively, but through the use of latency information which will will be actively communicated to the other components, Chard said. Finally, support for an HDMI mini-connector has been added, to allow digital video to be streamed from a compliant camcorder directly to a display.

Finally, future displays will support what is known as "Consumer Electronics Control," a standard that will allow the HDMI devices to talk to one another, and configure themselves. The most profound effect will probably be the phasing out of the high-end remote control devices, which will be replaced with a simpler control scheme, Chard said. The technology may be marketed as "One-Touch Play," he said.

The HDMI interface is often thought of as the hardware component to the High-Definition Content Protection standard, which is governed by a separate licensing organization. No HDCP-specific provisions were made, Chard said, although the new HDMI spec "caused a few bugs" in testing with HDCP, he said.

Cell Shrinks In 2007.

Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi revealed today in an interview with Japan's Impress Watch technology site that the PS3's Cell processor will make the switch to a 65nm manufacturing process in 2007. Shipments of the more efficient chip will make it out later that year.

The Cell is in production at IBM's Fishkill and Sony's Nagasaki fabrication facilities. Currently, the chip is being produced using a 90nm process. Switching to a 65nm process will reduce costs, potentially leading to a price reduction of components that use the chip.

Elsewhere in the interview, Kutaragi hinted further at the use of Cell in products besides the Playstation 3. "It's probably okay to use just 2 (SPEs). We have plans," said the SCE boss, referring to plans to make the Cell into a more general processor. The "SPE" mentioned by Kutaragi is in reference to the parallel processing units that give the Cell much of its computational power. The PS3 has 8, of which 7 are active.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Rockstar Assembles The GTA IV Cast & Crew.

The ever popular crime adventure, Grand Theft Auto, will be making its debut onto next-generation consoles in Fall 2007. Before then, gamers will be treated with the delight of the upcoming Vice City Stories on the PSP. However, Rockstar is already generating a dream team to handle the GTA IV project.

Rockstar President Dan Houser, along with James Worrall, will be the primary writers for GTAIV. James Worrall has seen work with past Rockstar projects such as GTA and Manhunt. Lazlow Jones, or as GTA cohorts know, 'Lazlow', is labled as part of the cast for the game. Lazlow Jones has lended his voice talent to GTA3, Vice City, San Andreas, and Liberty City stories as a radio host. If the trend continues, Lazlow's role in GTA IV would probably be a radio host. Also listed as part of the GTA IV cast is Navid Khonsari. Navid is popular with his voice talent for the Max Payne games in which he voiced the Porn Host in Max Payne 2. He also contributed to voice talent for GTA games as well, notably for pedestrians.

Grand Theft Auto IV isn't scheduled to release on the PS3 and Xbox 360 until October 17, 2007, but it is clearly noted that Rockstar is already assembling a strong group for the GTA IV team and cast. Expect this list to expand in the near future.

High-tech Sony Patent Has Gaming Potential.

Barry Fox over at New Scientist makes a habit of rooting through patents, and his latest gathering of the new and novel ideas includes a Sony effort that might have big implications for games.
Click image to enlarge.
Sony's US Patent application 20060099808 describes an "electrorheological fluid device and an electronic apparatus, which realize satisfactorily changeable hardness or tension in a portion of the device or apparatus which a human body touches, enabling application to a product that needs to have portability."

Basically, the patent describes electronic devices and displays that are flexible enough to be rolled up or folded when not in use, but become rigid when a small electric current is passed through them. The application lists wide-ranging uses for the technology, and suggests it could be applied to cell phones, PDAs, PCs, remote controls, clocks, glasses, and even game systems.

"The electrorheological fluid device can be applied to, for example, part of a controller of a home-use game machine as another example of the electronic apparatus of the present invention. A user touches a control section of the controller by fingers, and the feeling of touch is controlled by the electrorheological fluid device. For example, if a game player is defeated in a fighting game, the electrorheological fluid device is controlled to become soft in order to improve the realistic sensations in the game."

As of press time, Sony representatives had not responded to requests for comment on the patent's planned uses.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

New Blu-ray Movies Announced.

Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Lions Gate, and Paramount have announced their exciting Blu-ray lineup. The release dates are still yet to be determined. With twenty titles from Sony Pictures, twenty more from Fox, ten from Lions Gate, and quite a few more from Paramount, Blu-ray looks as though it's going to start off with a bang.

The first batch of movies from Sony Pictures will be released on single-layer Blu-ray discs, with Black Hawk Down and The Bridge on the River Kawai being an exception, appearing on dual-layer 50GB discs later in the summer. Fox has a plan for their Blu-ray releases, with Mike Dunn (President of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) stating that they will have simultaneous releases of their films on both Blu-Ray and DVD to give the new format a chance to take hold on the market by getting the brand familiar in people’s homes. Will it be enough to compete with the rival HD-DVD format? Only time will tell.

Below is a partial list of movies announced from the four movie studios:

Sony Pictures:
• Hitch
• The Fifth Element
• Legends of the Fall
• House of Flying Daggers
• Bram Stoker’s Dracula
• Desperado
• For A Few Dollars More
• The Guns of Navarone
• A Knight’s Tale
• Kung Fu Hustle
• The Last Waltz
• Resident Evil: Apocalypse
• Robocop
• Sense and Sensibility
• Stealth
• Species

20th Century Fox:
• Fantastic Four
• The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
• Behind Enemy Lines
• Kiss of the Dragon
• Ice Age

Lions Gate:
• Lord of War
• The Punisher
• The Devil’s Rejects
• Saw
• Terminator 2: Judgment Day
• Reservoir Dogs
• Total Recall
• Dune
• Rambo: First Blood

• Four Brothers
• Sahara
• Aeon Flux
• Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
• The Italian Job
• Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
• U2: Rattle and Hum
• Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow
• We Were Soldiers
• The Manchurian Candidate
• Mission Impossible 1, 2, and 3

Comparison Between Real-Life And The 'Crysis Engine'.

Its amazing how much gaming has evolved in just 12 short years of 3D technology. There is really no deference between real life and the game.

Click Image to enlarge.
Shown above is what can be done with the powerful 'Crysis Engine' which has been developed to run on PC's.There is good news however,it is rumoured that a PS3 & X360 version of the 'Crysis Engine' is in development.Lets hope so.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Analysts Predict Win For PS3.

In the aftermath of E3, we all became part time analysts in an attempt to determine who would emerge victorious in the next generation race.

But how do the real analysts feel on the matter?

The latest issue of Famitsu has some revealing comments from three Japanese analysts: Daiwa Securities' Eiji Maeda, Nomura Securities' Yuta Sakurai, and Deutsche Securities' Takashi Oya.

The magazine asked the three for their opinion on which hardware maker had the biggest impact at E3. All three pointed to the Wii, noting that Nintendo's stock price rose from 16,000 yen to 19,000 yen in the three weeks surrounding the show. One of the biggest factors affecting their opinion was that 27 Wii titles were playable at the show, giving the impression that the system will launch with a strong lineup.

Impressions of the Wii were also influenced from the outside -- specifically, Sony's PS3 price. Maeda stated that the 62,790 yen Japanese price for the base system is not something that allows for an easy purchase, and he questioned how much the system will move among early adopters. All three analysts questioned how much demand Blu-Ray would have by the end of this year, and suggested that the system could have a rough start. Sakurai noted, however, that the PS3 could suddenly take off once the price comes down a certain level.

In the end, all three analysts predicted the PS3 to come out on top in the next generation race. However, they expect its lead to shrink. "The PlayStation 3 brand power is, of course, very strong," said Maeda. "However, the winds are have changed a bit. I don't believe there will be a commanding victory on the level of the PS2."

Ooya got the last word. "The hardware concepts this time are clearly different. Because of this, it seems to be a situation where the winner and loser won't be clear."

PS3 Includes PS2 Chipset For Backwards Compatibility.

A surprising report has emerged from Japan's Ultra One monthly technology magazine. The magazine's July issue reports that Sony will be achieving backwards compatibility on the PlayStation 3 not through software emulation, as previously announced, but through physical hardware.

The magazine states that the PS3 hardware, in its current form, includes the core PlayStation 2 chipset. This presumably means that initial PS3 units will include the single Emotion Engine (the PS2 CPU) and Graphic Synthesizer (the PS2 graphics chip) combo chip that powers the slim model PS2.

The magazine adds that Sony plans on removing the PS2 chipset from future revisions of the PS3 hardware once it has finished development of a proper software-based PS2 emulator. Such a removal would help bring down costs for the system.

Sony has repeatedly stated that PS2 software would run on the PS3 through software emulation, leaving many to believe that the company had developed a powerful emulator for the older hardware. This would have been a particularly impressive feat, considering that even the PlayStation 2 originally used a combination of hardware and software to maintain backwards compatibility with original generation PlayStation games.

If the Ultra One report is true, the use of hardware emulation casts some doubts on what kind of visual updates we can expect for PlayStation 2 games. PlayStation games saw a few marginal upgrades when running on the PlayStation 2 due to the PlayStation graphics chip being emulated entirely through software running on the PS2's Graphics Synthesizer.

On the other hand, hardware emulation pretty much guarantees that every game that runs on the current PS2 will do so on the PS3.

A few other revelations appear in the Ultra One report, an investigative story into the reasons for the PS3's high price point. Izumi Kawanishi, head of Sony's Software Platform Development Division, commented to the magazine that one difference between the PS2 and the PS3 is that the PS3, as it was announced, is "nothing more than just the basic system." Sony is considering releasing models with larger volume hard disks and upgraded network features in the future. However, Kawanishi noted, Sony won't be changing CPU clock speed or memory amounts, as all PS3s have to run the same games.

The PS3 comes equipped with, in addition to a default hard disk, a "large amount of flash memory," the magazine reveals. This is used to house the operating system and all future system updates. Based on the wording in the magazine, it seems that the hard disk is to be used exclusively for multimedia content and will not contain any system features; users will, after all, be able to swap the built in hard drive out with any standard drive they pick up at a computer hardware store.

The magazine also provides an assurance about the PS3's compatibility with its own games. The PS2 lost compatibility with older titles as new models were released featuring updated chip designs. This won't be a problem with the PS3, as the magazine reveals that in the event that problems are discovered following an updated chip design, the system will be able to connect Online to download any required patches, which will then be stored on the hard disk.

We'll wait for official word from Sony on details in the Ultra One article, before considering this report confirmed.