Saturday, March 5, 2011

GDC 2011 (PS3 news)

I've gathered news about what Sony revealed at this years GDC. There weren't any big surprises this year but at least a few new interesting details about upcoming PlayStation 3 exclusive games. And some news about Sony's new handheld device NGP.

inFamous 2 "Play, Create, Share"

And just like that, inFamous 2 joins Sony's "Play, Create, Share" suite of games by allowing players to make their own missions. Developer Sucker Punch unveiled the surprising new feature at GDC. Using the new creation tool, you'll be able to create "any" kind of mission. Creators have "access to the same set of characters, creatures and props" that the designers have.

A "limited" public beta will be available in April. Details on how to get in will be announced on the game's official website in two weeks, on March 14th.

Resistance 3 multiplayer details

Insomniac Games has dropped the first details on the multiplayer component in Resistance 3, and those hoping the developer would reach MAG levels of simultaneous combatants after the 60-player Resistance 2 should probably be seated. Rather than escalate, the game's online offering will be more intimate, maxing out at 16 players -- eight on eight in any mode.

The dev says the move is about making the competitive experience more "personal" -- not for any technical reasons. After playing a few matches at tonight's preview event, we found the sole map being demoed, a prison in the Republic of Chad (all the multiplayer stages are set outside the US), nicely sized for the player count. Admittedly, the action was considerably tame compared to the massive battles of the previous game in the series.

Insomniac revealed -- and we tried -- some active and passive multiplayer abilities, the former represented by health/ammo drops and an electrified shield; the latter are always-active "stat buffs," such as making yourself more accurate when shooting while running. The final element we saw was the Berserk, which is rewarded for kill streaks and made our Chimeran character temporarily invisible.

Objective-based modes are to be revealed later, giving us hope that the developer has some fresh ideas lined up for them.

PlayStation 3 stats

During the PlayStation Network Analysis panel at GDC, SCEA digital distribution manager Pierre Gravereau provided some platform stats to attendees, revealing worldwide sales of 47.9 million PS3 consoles. More than 80 percent of consoles are connected to the internet and have spawned 70 million PSN accounts.

Gravereau boasted about the success of PSN in 2010, saying traffic to the PlayStation Store increased by 60 percent compared to the previous year and Sony subsequently saw a 70 percent spike in revenue. Even without exact hard figures, it's quite a dramatic upstick.

NGP at GDC 11

This slide, shown during Sony's Next Generation Portable GDC panel, shed some light on NGP's still-mysterious storage details. Unlike the experimental PSP Go, the NGP doesn't sport any internal storage. Things like save data and patches will be stored on the actual game cards themselves which, notably, will be offered in both 2GB and 4GB varieties, with 5 to 10 percent of the storage allocated to the aforementioned data. On a 2GB card, that leaves 1.8GB to 1.9GB for game data; on a 4GB card, that leaves 3.6GB to 3.8GB.

That puts the NGP's game media storage size between that of the PSP's, whose UMD discs range from 900MB to 1.8GB, and the PS3's, whose Blu-ray discs hold up to 50GB, though "many PS3 games" (i.e., multiplatform titles) remain around 9GB, thanks to the Xbox 360's DVD-ROM size limitation. Of course, this leaves the NGP with far more storage per game than a "10MB phone game."

But that's not all! As previously suggested, the NGP has another storage option, simply called "removable memory" in this presentation. "Cards will be large to support a variety of downloaded content," the slide says. This includes games available over PlayStation Network; and, thankfully, Sony says it's implementing a "single submission for both formats" to streamline the process of getting games approved for both card-based and downloadable releases.

We're hopeful this streamlined process obviates current embarassments like the continued absence of high-profile games in the PSN catalog of PSP titles, which has crippled the appeal of Sony's PSP Go handheld.

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