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GDC: The PS3 keynote blow by blow

[10:20 am] I'm sitting here at the San Jose Civic Auditorium after bypassing the unwashed masses waiting outside, proudly flashing the press badge. I kid, I kid. But I did get in early. Inside I take a seat up close, bust out this laptop only to learn that there's no WiFi signal and barely an EVDO signal. This is Silicon Valley people! Where's the WiFi?

I'll be sort of live blogging the event, ready to upload as soon as I can get back to civilization across the street. There's a display up on stage of the history of Sony consoles: the PlayStation, PSone, PlayStation 2, PS2 slim, PSP, and--of course--the PlayStation 3.

[10:36] GDC director Jamil Moledina takes the stage. Says Phil Harrison is going to "deliver the goods." The "ultimate Sony insider." Phil takes the stage. Beyond the box: hardware/software/audience.

[10:39] Report card on PS2 following 2000's GDC PS2 keynote. Business slides: numbers, bar charts, graphs. PSone and PStwo are still dominant platforms. PS2 will provide tremendous commercial opportunity.

[10:41] Exclusive look at PS2 title that will continue to push the PS2. Introduces God of War's David Jaffe. GoW2 on PS2. Why did they decide to do it? PS3 has limitations. Incapable of rendering 3 way sex scenes in real time. (haha). We'll get our hands on it @ E3. (oooh). Shows clip of game. I get my wrist slapped for taking pix. Kratos is BADASS! He's chopping limbs off like crazy!

[10:44] Phil is back! PSP is the fastest growing format ever. Faster than PS1 and PS2. New lower price for PSP dev tools. $5000 (from what?). He goes over what Kutaragi said last week in Tokyo. RSS channel, Macromedia Flash browser, in the next update. Video camera this October. WiFi videophone. Gameplay opportunities. GPS receiver; geocaching, popular, albeit underground. Sept 06. Download and run software directly to MS. UMD's will continue, but digital distribution will be available. Content server (for new games?) and archive server (for PSone games). PS3 connected "seamlessly" with the PSP through the internet.

[10:48] LocoRoco for PSP shown off. No pix again. It's weird! It looks very Katamari. Looks really colorful and creative. It will come out this Summer.

[10:50] Onto the PS3! "An Apology" for the LOD (lots of ducks) joke. For revenge, Sony dumped 1000 rubber ducks on him... hahaha. People yell for side screens, Phil explains they can't since the main screen is in 1080p. We see a procedurally generated video of fish swimming in the water. An "example" of what the PS3 will be capable of doing.

-Full PS2 backcompat
-Full BD support
-Legacy SD to FUll HD support
-Latest HDMI
-Broadband net connection
-Wireless connections

PS3 production capacity will ramp up faster than PS/PS2. 1m units/month.

[10:55] Middleware: Epic Unreal Engine, PhysX, HAVOK, all optimized for PS3. SN Systems ProDG Debugger, Tuner, Compiler, etc. Final technology delivered to developers by E3.

Introduces SCEE and HAVOK demo. Ragdoll physics demo. Game production code. 1000 fully skinned ragdoll characters. Blows them up for fun! Game design opportunities, everyone laughs.

[10:58] Another demo of vehicle dynamics, SCEE London. Fancy car. Shiny. Procedurally being destroyed, bullet holes. From a forthcoming game, so they stripped out all the identifying marks. Cars and guns? Full Auto?

[11:00] Blu-ray is vital to the video game industry, not just the movie industry. 100:1 ratio of disc space to system memory. (Xbox 360 is at the bottom of this chart). Shows an E3 demo, proves its running in realtime. Moves the camera around. London street, Picadilly circus. In order to maintain this kind of richness, they "absolutely need" Blu-ray disc.

[11:03] A technical demonstration that looks like a game. Introduces Dylan Jobe (Warhawk). Ambient warfare: combat simulation that's being constantly evaluated in the background. HD behavioral simulation. Significant portion of the system resources are used for the simulation; ocean is procedurally generated; lots of tech-jargon that's supposed to mean it's got some power. Lots of "maps" and "point lights." All of it is in HD, 4x antialiasing. PS3 is complex and powerful, but the developer entry point is accessible. No need for low level optimizations. The demo @e3

[11:08] PlayStation Network Platform is an internal name, not the consumer name (phew!). Service starts with PS3 launch, basic service is free, "open internet" business philosophy. Worldwide network, being built in collaboration with SOE. SCE will provide allthe basic services as standard. Infrastructure investment and operations managed by SCE.
-3rd party game servers can be integrated.
-account created though user registration (single log-on)
-voice video chat

-"Shops" to sell online content.
-Download to PS3 HDD
-Game application launch from HDD (no disc required)
-Flexible business models
-Subs, pay to download, micropayments

The SDK will be delivered to devs. next week with the second release in April and the final production environment available in September.

[11:10] Images from Formula one game. More @ E3. Video chat overlayed over the game from the side. Multiple video chats open at once. Presence is overlaid inside the game. All come from inside the operating system. Email/friends lists all accessible inside the game. Messages can be controlled (intrusive or not). "Shop" front end bought inside the game. Motor Storm "Shop" front end matches the graphical style of that product. "Seamless"

[11:12] Motor Storm, "groundbreaking" PS3 demo from Evolution Studios. HDR lighting, some mapping, ambient inclusion, motion blur, more pixel pr0n. Persistent deformation (trails). Vehicle behaves to tracks left in the newly deformed ground. Motorcycle behaves to the mud, the wheels dig in, leave a trail, kick up dirt. Sprays dirt onto a bus, which then dries. "See you at E3" is written in the dirt.

[11:16] Insomniac Games Ted Price takes the stage. Internal demo completed a few months ago for a game formerly known as i8, now resistance: Fall of Man. FPS. Primarily running on the GPU, but starting to be moved over to the SPUs. Every system they move over, they can do more per frame. Blackhole gun is pretty cool. Still can't take pictures! They're working on the PS3. Insomniac is independent. PS3 has superior firepower. Blu-ray and the SPUs. Everything in the next-gen is more spatially expensive; developers need more room. Blu-ray is a "huge win for developers." Worldwide disc with all the languages present.

Cell has 7 SPUs. Physics, collation, bot navigation, AI, can all be moved onto the SPUs. The challenge comes in load-balancing. Parallel processing on a level that we've never seen before combined with a storage medium that satisifes the insatiable demand for more storage.

Noninteractive demo of a future game. Future/cartoon/aztec look to it. Hovercars and what have you. Lots of stuff going on. Camera flies around a city, with many layers of hover traffic (think Fifth Element). A blimp at the end clearly says, "Ratchet and Clank." A new Ratchet and Clank game perhaps?

[11:25] "We make content on discs to sell in stores." Creating and erving a network of game communities. Fundamental shift from disc based to net based business.

Revenue streams will become much more complex. Introduction of PS3 Network Platform will integrate revenue streams. Episodic content will become a reality. Games will have the same "social currency" as TV like Lost and 24. In-game advertising can be a vital revenue stream. Socom3 on PS2 has 39 million hours of clocked online game time. Homogenous audience that advertisers can identify and sell their product to. He takes care to assure gamers they aren't looking to cover Socom with ads.

PC industry is thriving on subscriptions. Mentions WoW and the popularity. Mobile gaming and "Game Object auctions." (makes a joke about skipping over it since its tricky). Merchandising done sensitively can generate a great deal of money. Direct connection between consumer and game creators.

Some of the next generation of content will be distributed only online! is live now! Developers and content creators can contact Sony to develop content for the service. Product to service evolution: packaged games augmented by downloaded content enhanced by community experience, enabled by communication features like voice chat and video chat.

[11:31] Innovation through peripherals Singstar, EyeToy and Buzz. Wants to focus on Singstar, a "phenomenon" in Europe. Ultra-localized content (ie Croatian) helps them address new users. Video of Singstar customization. Themes available for download, songs to download. Tons of Sony artists/karaoke. I see an address as user ID. Photos/media available.

Interface is really slick (is this the game or the OS?)

[11:34] He wraps up, that's it folks! Now to get this online!

The line... eeeek!

The auditorium with folks taking their seats.

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