nDreams On Home, Aurora And Xi

As PlayStation Home continues to evolve, expand, so too do the various Spaces you can inhabit and explore.  Following on from 2009’s amazing Xi, part-ARG, part-Home area, developers nDreams have released their latest environment, dubbed Aurora.  Home to an expanse of floating islands and hidden secrets, Aurora is pushing Home Spaces further than most – time to catch up with CEO Patrick O’Luanaigh, then, to find what’s up.

Regular readers to TheSixthAxis will no doubt remember the birth of Xi, which happened right here on TSA with this very post.  From there, the mystery kicked off, with a compelling mixture of Home-based hide and seek tasks and an ever changing world locked away underground, areas off limits until certain conditions were fulfilled.  It was intriguing, the suspense building for weeks and months before gamers got a chance to see what it was about.

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[drop]We reminded Patrick of this.  “Xi was a magical project that will always hold a special place in our heart,” he told us. “We wanted Xi to be mysterious, and I felt that the ‘pre-launch’ phase worked extremely well (we’re very grateful to TheSixthAxis for your help with that!).”

“Hopefully there will more more secretive mysterious things from us in the future,” he teases.  But as for the here and now, Aurora’s a very unique area- we ask whether the floating islands was a concious decision to try something completely different.

“Yes,” says Patrick. “For quite a while we’ve wanted to create our own public space in Home that we could continually add to, update and grow. Whilst Aurora will evolve with more narrative, story and characters, it’s not an ‘ARG’ like Xi was. It’s purely a beautiful fun place to hang out and visit regularly, knowing that we’re going to keep adding fun new content.”

We ask Patrick whether that means new areas, new secrets, and what are the orbs for?  “We’ll certainly be expanding the Orbrunner game,” he says, “but we’re also planning lots of new areas, secrets and games.”  New islands? “Yes – remember that Aurora is constantly travelling over the land below,” says Patrick, “so I’m sure new islands will float into view and Aurora might move to different places and times.”

How has Home evolved since your last project, we ask, explaining that we think the visuals in Aurora look among the richest on the platform.  “Home is evolving so fast,” we’re told.  We mention the new 1.5 Sony talked about GDC, “it really is a huge step forwards,” Patrick replies. “We’re very happy with the way the core technology is heading and we’re currently working on lots of things that you wouldn’t think were possible in Home!”

“Most importantly, Sony genuinely listen to their developers and publishers and their feedback and communication is superb.”

Do nDreams see Home continuing to distance itself away from what many inaccurately perceive as a basic ‘online chat room’ through inventive spaces like Aurora, we ask?  Do they feel like they’re the flag bearer for true innovation in Home? “Yes and yes. We love doing innovative things, and we’re always trying to push the envelope. We see Home as a rich, growing games platform that is totally unlike anything else out there, and we’re determined to continue to grow our reputation within Home.”

And to those that think Home hasn’t changed from early beta versions?  “They clearly haven’t been into Home since the early beta version,” Patrick replies. “Go check out Aurora. Spend some time in the Xi Museum. Wander around Home. Take a look at some of the amazing spaces being built by superb teams like Lockwood, Veemee, JetSet, Mass Media and so on.”

“Home is on a fast upward trajectory with some of the world’s most talented new studios working on it,” he says.

But what’s next for the nDreams team?  “We’re working hard on a large number of Home projects at the moment,” he tells us, “a mix of small, medium and huge titles. We’ll be updating Aurora as often as we can, and we’ll be announcing some other big things later in the year. Rest assured that we’ll continue to push Home and try to create games and spaces unlike anything you’ve seen before.”

But who’s funding all this, given that the area itself is free to play?  “We funded it ourselves,” we’re told candidly, “and we are hoping that people will buy some of the cool things we sell inside the space so we can afford to make more. Every time someone buys an nDreams item, they’re helping us make more bigger and better projects!”

We thank Patrick for his valuable time, and urge all PlayStation 3 owners to check out Home – a sentiment that Sony echo too.

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20 Comments

  1. The Xi was fun so this one should be good. Will have to pay Home a visit in the not to distant future.

  2. Xi seemed amazing. Unfortunately, I came into it really late and never really felt like I could catch up. Definitely a very talented bunch though, worth watching.

    • Me too, I just missed out.

    • I only missed the very first bit I think? From there I absolutely loved it.

  3. I remember Xi. I also remember TSA setting the internet off when they revealed that picture of Xi.

  4. I don’t think I knew at the time that TSA was the kick off point. I loved the whole Xi experience. Got high hopes for this. Home has a fond place in my heart.

  5. Really wished i had got on XI as soon as it started. I’m not going to let something by nDreams pass me by again

  6. Xi was good, Aurora is going to get better than Xi was.

  7. I really enjoyed Xi and i used to be a daily visitor to Home for the first year. I’ve logged in only a handful of times since then, usually to check out the latest client update or new area. The Aurora space looks good so the next time i reinstall Home again i’ll check it out.

  8. Will have to check this out.

  9. I really enjoyed Xi, but haven’t really payed Home much attention since. This might be a reason to return, but considering that I have several old videogames that need finishing, the return may have to wait…

  10. Aurora is awesome; just checked it out. The space is drop dead gorgeous and the game is rather fun too. Look forward to seeing it evolve

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