Title: My Review of HOME
Posted: December 13, 2008 (02:02 AM)
How best to describe HOME? Itís not a game, though it has games in it. I guess itís best described as an online 3D interactive forum, where you communicate real time via customizable avatars. People familiar with Second Life will recognize the concept, though at this point in time HOME is neither as grand in scale, nor as buggy in execution, as Second Life, and as of yet hasnít become a receptacle for underage porn.
Of course, the real question is, ďwhat do you DO in HOME?Ē The truth is... not a lot right now. You can walk around talking to people and try to start massive dance raves (surprisingly easy to do). You can buy things like clothing and furniture from the mall and play dress up or house to your heartís delight with whatever avatars youíve created. You can go to the theatre and watch previews of games and movies, or head over to the bowling alley and play pool, bowling, or arcade games. Or you can do what I do, which is don a female avatar and flirt with horny nineteen year olds (which I consider a good way to get back at them for all the annoying fads theyíve started).
It may not be much more than a glorified MySpace, but HOME is strangely engrossing. Credit for this definitely has to be given to both the graphics engine and the character creator. The graphics in HOME are exceedingly good, showing the same attention to detail and texturing that youíd expect out of any PS3 game. The environments (especially the user homes and the central plaza, which you could think of as a visualized "general chat" thread on a forum) use a good colour template, combined with a simple but effective shadowing program that creates an image thatís both easy on the eye and interesting to look at. In addition, avatars have wrinkles and skin imperfections and look remarkably realistic as a result. You have a lot of control over your avatarís appearance, and creating avatars is both intuitive and fun. You adjust your characterís structure using the right and left thumbstick to control a tab on a graph of different characteristics (like height on the x axis, and weight on the y axis), and you get to see your results in real time. Itís incredibly intuitive and you can easily put what you visualize onto the screen to be rendered in fine detail.
Another contributing factor is the user base. Maybe itís because of the lack of a combat system and nudity, but you can actually hold decent conversations on HOME. I sat on a bench and talked to a guy named Curian Crusader for a good twenty minutes, which was followed by another twenty minutes spent discussing philosophy and dreams with someone named MIS-behave. This continuation of conversation lasted me a good hour and a half (before turning into a dancing rave), which is far more time than Iíd want to spend with anyone on Xbox Live. Sony might not have gotten the corner on the gaming market, but they definitely have bragging rights when it comes to the people who play their limited selection. Because, at heart, HOME is a complicated chat room, the user base makes up a huge part of its success factor.
Of course, not everything in HOME works quite like it should yet. Games like bowling and chess, while fun to play, only support a very limited number of users. And while the various apartments/houses are appreciated, furnishing your house is a chore of realistic proportions. Also, it's costly, as you have to actually pay for new clothes/couches/rubber dildos, which, frankly, is ridiculous. Besides, the furniture is mostly pretty ugly, and the options for variety highly limited. This gets at the real thing HOME needs: user content. Avatars are an alright expression of user individuality, but HOME really needs user furniture, user environments, user vehicles, user clothing, even user created games. Ideally HOME would be a mix of MySpace and The Sims, mixing gaming and user customization in the controlled setting of an interactive forum. Much of the future of HOME depends on just how much Sony lets people take the world and make it their own. Sony should provide the template and the creation tools. The users should provide the creativity. This would turn HOME into that major exclusive that Sonyís been looking for since the release of the PS3.
Posted: December 13, 2008 (11:32 AM)
Posted: December 13, 2008 (01:11 PM)
Were you part of the long line of Running Men on Home's first night?
Posted: December 13, 2008 (04:02 PM)
I was not. I was part of the closed Beta, but I missed the first night of open beta cause I was working.
Heard about it, though.
Posted: December 14, 2008 (01:20 PM)
PlayStation Home was somewhat fascinating but it got boring fast. maybe the service will get better in the months ahead but i was expecting more. the most i got out of it were a couple good rounds of billiards and a pretty decent but easy bowling game.
the theatre is a cool idea but...watching a grainy Twilight trailer and some horrible music video(i dunno who the group is) looping over and over made me lose that feeling of going to the theatre. they could've put in more previews...good ones at least, or they could've streamed a good full-movie on there, it could've been any movie recent or old, like Star Wars ep.IV or something...
the mall would be cool if i could buy stuff that doesn't cost real money. how about some type of in-game credit that you earn from gaining achievements with your games? .99 cents for an item may not sound alot but if you're really into accessorizing, all this adds up. i know this service would be pretty pointless if Sony couldn't make any money out of it, but at least throw in some kind of in-game currency to make it a little easier on our pockets.
Seems like the people that will get the most out of Home are the ones with alot of money and time to spend. the average joes like me who aren't cash-strapped will find Home a very alienating place. and if you have alot of IRL friends to spend time with you in Home, it would probably be more enjoyable. other than that, i probably don't see myself using this service very much.
Posted: December 15, 2008 (09:10 AM)
This is like Second Life?
Posted: December 15, 2008 (12:13 PM)
It's essentially a chat room. It will attract the same crowd as any chat room. It could be more, with user content.