Perfection, rightly so, is pretty much unattainable. That means that there is always some improvement to strive for. Games consoles have been with us now for over thirty years and their functionality has been expanding at an ever-increasing rate. When Sony’s original PlayStation introduced the Compact Disc as the storage format for its games, games consoles suddenly became devices that we could use to play back our other entertainment media.
Another generation on and Sega clearly had the imagination to see where the addition of online functionality could take consoles when they created their ill-fated Dreamcast. Now consoles sport a vast range of capabilities beyond simple gaming and doubtless PC gamers sit smugly pointing out that their general purpose machines have been doing it all for longer.
While there will always be more features that can be added, for example there is a vocal group who believe the PS3 is missing a key one, what about the features that are already there. There is room for improving, or tweaking, those.
So to give you something to think about on a Sunday this is the start of a series of posts asking you how you would improve the existing features of something gaming-related. To kick things off this week let’s take a look at the PlayStation 3’s feature-laden GameOS which should give you plenty to talk about with all the features you can currently access via the PS3’s XMB.
Here are the top three tweaks I would like to see:
1) Streamlined in-game XMB
Sony capitulated to the demands of gamers and added the ability to access the XMB while in-game way back in the short-lived firmware 2.40. However I rarely use it because being identical to its out-of-game incarnation it is just too slow. Loading all the icons takes too long. That fact that so many of those icons on it cannot be used in-game itself suggests that Sony need to slim it down. Presumably slimming it down could also reduce the amount of memory the GameOS requires in-game, so that could help developers too. It needs to focus on just the essential features needed in-game, load instantly and be quicker to navigate, just like the Xbox 360’s in-game equivalent as it happens.
2) Backup to NAS (Network Attached Storage) drives
Being able to backup the contents of the PS3’s hard drive is a great feature. For me though it would be much more useful if it was not just restricted to backing up to USB-connected drives. My NAS drive has much more storage available than any of my USB drives and it is always available so it would be great not to have to connect up a USB drive when I want to make one of my regular backups.
3) Auto-set time and date when connecting to PSN
On the time and date settings menu on the XMB is the option to set them via the Internet. If you connect to PSN on a regular basis you should never have to hit the update button, as a part of the PSN login process could and should be to perform that update for you. It is not just a matter of keeping your PSN messages in sequence; you may not know that often servers for online games will not allow you to join if your time and date is significantly out. The Xbox 360 does this and even goes one step further by preventing you from changing them manually if you are connected to Xbox Live.
Those are my picks, two minor changes and one much more significant one, so now it is over to you. How would you improve the existing features of the PS3’s GameOS?