Whilst the changes in Home Development Kit (HDK) 1.3 won’t affect end users for a little while, news out of GDC Europe on the latest goings on with Home is still worth reporting, and the talk yesterday from SCEE’s James Cox and Martijn Van Der Meulen was rather revealing with regards to the direction the Home team are taking on PlayStation 3. Gamasutra writes that although developers were initially reluctant to dedicate time and money into Home once the minigame Tri Sphere was developed (in just over a month by an external developer using the first versions of the development tools) other companies were interested.
Naturally, though, Sony didn’t just want minigames, and that’s where Red Bull were drafted in – the development time for the arcade flight sim was around four months and at that point, Van Der Meulen confirms, was “far more engaging than anything we had in Home. It was such a step forward and is still one of the most popular spaces in Home we’ve had.” Despite the relatively late showing of the Buzz! space, it was the next to be developed, but the results were hugely positive with Buzz! the retail game getting a decent amount of interest after the Buzz! Home space was released, showing the potential of the service.
James Cox then discussed the next phase of the HDK, saying that 1.3 will be “the biggest release we’ve had since 1.0”. With the future of Home resting largely on developers taking up the integration between Home and their PS3 retail titles, Cox said that Sony is actively pushing developers to give gamers the ability to not only launch into games straight from home but also directly jump to any section of a game, such as the Manchester level in Resistance, skipping any loading and splash screens entirely. HDK 1.3 will also bring a Character Viewer Tool (to allow developers to do much more with character creation) and custom animations finally bringing an end to the pre-canned mocap stuff that I personally find extremely false.
Finally, the promise that there will be more ‘active items’ rather than just static ornaments, and restrictions on clothing items, with Cox explaining by way of suggesting Mortal Kombat clothing couldn’t be worn with Street Fighter clothing.