Are there any Easter eggs in Cross Media Bar that you could show us?
A lot of these applications have been written by people who have written games, so I’m sure there are interesting little things in there. There are some secrets, but I can’t tell you otherwise I’d have to kill you.
What prototypes did the external design of PS3 go through?
There were two no, three actually. One that was very much in the mould of traditional consumer electronics: slab fronted, and that never moved beyond the conceptual phase. This [the final design] is the one Kutaragi-san spent the most time on, although it did evolve a little bit from E3 2005. The basic shape is the same, even though it’s a bit bigger. Then there was another one that was a bit more out there, but I can’t tell you what it looked like because we may see it in other devices.
What impact will downloadable content have on the way games are made?
It’s a fantastic opportunity to continue to satisfy the demands of gamers, and having the community functionality embedded into the console means that on Monday I can launch a new level, on Tuesday I can see what people are saying about it, on a Wednesday I can respond to that feedback and on a Friday I can put into QA [Quality Assurance] a revised version of the next episode for delivery on a Monday. [At this point Phil has an idea for a Christmas-themed Motorstorm bonus called Snowstorm, and rushes off to write it down.]
Is episodic gaming something that you are keen to experiment with?
We are doing a couple of things which are bang on that objective. The area that I’m most excited about at the moment is empowering user-created content. Embedding the user creation tools into the game application and opening it up to a cloud of users. That’s the trend I’m most excited about.
On the most basic level you’re talking about map makers, but how far could user-created content go with PS3?
Well, I have to be really careful not to give the game away because we’re keeping this secret, but don’t think about it in terms of maps, think of it in terms of behaviours, environments, physics, rules all the tools that you could want, but in a very consumer friendly way.
Would you create this content using the pad, or a mouse and keyboard?
The vast majority of the experience could be done with the pad, but for the small investment of plugging in a USB mouse there might be a second level, or a deeper level of finesse, that you could get in terms of pixel manipulation and paint programs or fine tuning things. Different users will have different wants; some will go all the way down to buying the special software that allows them to create their super levels. 95% of users are happy to be the consumer, but 5% are incredibly fanatical about creating a huge amount of content and the whole community benefits from it, and that is a really interesting trend. Look at Second Life. Everything about the experience is user-created content. That is a very, very powerful metaphor for where we’re going. We’ve got two things in development. One in this building and one with an external developer that, when we do share them with you, I think you’re going to go Ah now I know what he was talking about.
Can you tell us more about Afrika?
The game is non-violent, as you would expect. Videogames have always been a lot about wish fulfilment I wish I could be a Formula 1 driver, I wish I could be a striker for Liverpool. That’s a fairly well established desire. One thing that hasn’t been explored is the ability to go places and have experiences that either through time or cost or safety you wouldn’t be able to do in real life.
Finally, what is your favourite game-playing moment on any PlayStation?
Bloody hell! The cardboard box in Metal Gear Solid. God Of War just all of God Of War. On PS3, it’s seeing two cars collide realistically in Motorstorm, but the crash being nothing to do with me. Just the fact that I was hoofing it around, and I laughed at how they crashed. I had nothing to do with it it was an event that just unfolded around me. It’s great that Evolution have delivered that experience. I’m so proud of what they’ve done.