The Captains Speaketh – Playstation 4 Reveal

PS4 Reveal

And so Sony has revealed the PS4 last Wednesday, and with it a new venture into a more social experience with the console itself. The controller includes a touchpad similar to the one found on the back of the Playstation Vita, only this time it is in the front of the controller and in the center of the controller. Included on the controller is a Share button that will enable players to upload gameplay onto the Playstation Network and stream it live. Sony is also pushing cloud services, which is now viable for Sony after purchasing Gaikai a while back. The games themselves will also sport a new coat of graphical paint (of course) and seek to make interaction with others more feasible.

However there are still some things on our minds about the PS4, like how much it will cost, how much will the games cost, the format of the games, and the much rumored feature of used games being block? Join us as we discuss our thought on the Playstation 4.

In this speaketh: Steve, James, xhipsterpanda (Jon), Hachi76 (David)

PS4

James: What makes me sad is that despite a pretty solid and lengthy show, there’s two lingering questions that weren’t addressed, and mean the difference between me saying the overused “Shut up and take my money” or waiting it out.

1 : Do I still get physical media to coincide with digital launches?

2 : While we can see PS4 games being broadcast on the Vita, will the opposite be possible too? I’d have bought a Vita months ago if I could play Uncharted : Golden Abyss or Ragnarok Odyssey on the big screen, and if they make it possible now, I’ll buy both systems in a heartbeat.

I don’t care as much about the social shit or the share button, and letting friends control my game sounds like a lot of Prota telling me “You’re Welcome” every time he grabs me a trophy in the process. The whole background downloading thing and being able to play off partial downloads is cool, but not as mandatory as physical media for me.

One reason I hope Sony doesn’t let me down with the hardware is because the games look amazing. I don’t play racing games often, but Driveclub looks like a blast, Killzone : Shadow Fall piqued my interest in the series and that new inFamous looks awesome with or without Cole. Watchdogs looks sexy as ever, and I want to get my hands on Knack already with its beautiful animation. And Bungie’s coming aboard with exclusive content for its upcoming shooter? The only two things that failed to impress were Square(Look-Forward-to-e3-for-a-new-FF-announcement)Enix and Diablo 3, but many of you know how much I hate D3.

Hopefully they keep making the right choices, because right now I really want that console under the Christmas tree (or at least the already-opened box).

xhipsterpanda: I wonder if the tech demos involve a racing games whose name is an alliteration and large enemy crustaceans.

Knack

Steve: So far things look pretty impressive for the system. In the midst of stuttering livestream footage, reloads, and screencapping, quite a few games piqued my interest quite a bit. Like you said, Knack looks beautiful and definitely resembles a Pixar/DreamWorks movie. This is the kind of game I want to see more of as we head into the next generation. Watch_Dogs of course looks freaking amazing. Also, is it me or does the InFAMOUS Second Son have a premise almost similar to Watch_Dogs. Both have a sort of Big Brother atmosphere, ‘cept one of them you actually take advantage of it.

That Quantic Dream tech demo kinda impressed me. I tend to want to look down demos like that, going, “aw here we go, head first into uncanny valley.” But… it seemed really believable. I have no idea what Media Molecule was pitching. Square Enix disappointed me with the umpteenth showing of the same Agni’s Philosophy tech demo. Drive Club also looked cool too, especially the team aspect of it.

As for the console features, I’m not sure if I misheard that, but did they say that PS3 players can play PS4 games via the cloud? If so, holy crap. I mean, we haven’t gotten to that point yet where it’s ultra feasible to play a youtube videogame, but damn. Share button seems like a cool idea. I really like that Suspend Play feature. In the wrap-up article I likened it to the sleep mode that the handhelds have. I’m not too keen on just leaving my console on all night or all day to resume later. But if I can put my console on a Sleep Mode-like state and resume right away, I’m all for it.

Still, what does the console look like? What about the price of the thing? The price of the games? Will there be retail games (as you said)? I still like actually holding my games and knowing that if a service ends, I still have my game and can play single player.

InFAMOUS: Second Son

xhipsterpanda: The first trailer I watched was for Infamous: Second Son. That seems pretty interesting. I’m curious if some games will be released on PS3 in a similar way PS2 games were released when the PS3 first launched.

I saw pictures of the controller online. Props to Sony to sticking to what essentially the SAME layout for their controllers, just with modifications to the new ones. I will say the center part does look like they took the Wiimote speaker and combined it with a mini touch pad.

But as for console news, I was under the impression that Sony was going to wait until after Microsoft made the announcement on their upcoming console before saying anything about the PS4.

Also, I feel Sony is taking another big risk by not having backwards compatibility (again). I understand that it’s shifting from the Cell architecture to x86, and you can stream old games via a cloud service, Gaikai. But I feel that it’s rather convenient to where I can have one console hooked up without having to switch wires and connections/channels just to play a previous game in a series… I enjoyed the PS2 with it’s backwards compatibility.

Anyone want to take a guess on hard drive sizes and release price points? I, for one, hope that it’s release price is under the extremely steep $599 (US) price tag at launch. As for hard drive space, I would say consoles with at least 60GB-100GB minimum.

PS4 Controller

Steve: To Jon, they did say some things about the console, namely the social features that the console comes with. I’m not that big on it, save for the Share Button (I can see myself using that for crazy glitches I find). But one thing I noticed when I took a closer look at the controller was the lack of a Start and Select button. I’m guessing that the Options button to the right of the touchpad might serve as the Pause button for most games.

As for the speaker, I actually want all controllers to have that, regardless of affiliation, if not for immersion then for location. I remember writing a rant a ways back about how we keep losing controllers since now they’re wireless. With a speaker, they can beep if you’re trying to locate where they are. Now we’re two for three. Microsoft, please add one as well.

And yeah, cloud gaming… something about it is… not quite there. I mean, to reiterate, I would still like to have physical copies of my games. At least with digital downloads there’s still some semblance of ownership, even if the service ends. Take for instance DKC 1 and 2 on the Virtual Console. They’re no longer available on the VC but I still have them on my SD card, so I know that I still have them and can still play them. If they were handled via the cloud, poof, there goes the games I bought.

There’s also the latency thing, but I don’t want to run my take on it too much. For now, Cloud Services are okay for game saves, movie watching, etc. For the actual owning and playing, I still believe we’re not there yet.

PS4

As for backwards compatibility, they said that all PS1, PS2, and PS3 games can be played, but I believe they said through the cloud. And assuming this is through the Classics line of games, I have a problem with this. Sure putting the Cell processor with the x83 might be as expensive as when they put the PS2’s Emotion Engine with the Cell back when the PS3 launched. But I bet by now that Cell is cheaper to make than it was back in 2006, probably how even the Emotion Engine is super cheap to make and can probably be put in all PS3s by now. If they can’t put the Cell in there, fine. But keep the avenue open to put one in there in the future for backwards compatibility. I’d sure love to play some of my PS2 games on the PS3, but it’s not possible. Hopefully can play my actual PS3 games on a PS4.

xhipsterpanda: One feature I read up about was how the marketplace/store would not only predict your next purchase, but also go ahead and buy the item automatically (ed. note: James corrects him below). Hopefully there will be a notification popping up for it and/or can be disabled.

The lack of the start/select button will take some getting used to. Aside from being able to send invites and challenges to others, what other purpose would the share option use to merit it more importance over two buttons that have been a staple of most video game controllers for a long time?

Steve: I read up a bit more on it at cNet, and now that I think about it, it may not be too much of a problem. Select button’s had an odd history on controllers, hence why quite a few times it’s been omitted on Nintendo’s own controllers (coming back as the – button on the Wii). I think in this case Sony finally found a universal use for the Select button with the Share button since it’s barely used in videogames today. The Options button is confirmed at the pause button. The PS Button will still serve its purpose as, what I like to call, the “Pause Everything” button.

The Share button’s being used for things like uploading gameplay to social networks, streaming gameplay live via UStream, etc. Some thought about its application in the eSports scene, but it’s too early to call.

And in a bit of good news (I guess… you’ll see why), Sony told Eurogamer that the PS4 will not block used games. Though how the editor got that answer confused him as much as the question confused the PR rep. If this is true, then I guess we can confirm physical media on the PS4.

PS4

James: They won’t buy the predicted item, wouldn’t exactly be legal. Instead what they’re going to do is automatically download demos to the console based on predictions, which is pretty cool depending on the size of the demos. As long as it doesn’t rape my hard drive, I say go for it, it’s one way to get me to check out games I might not try otherwise when they’re already ready to go on the system.

The controller still has me bit nervous, and the share feature while a good alternative for people without great graphics cards/computers, doesn’t seem to be the most practical in my eyes. Who the fuck would want to edit video for posting every time something cool happens in their game playthrough? Even if I run a stream where a ton of awesome stuff happens, I don’t chop it up for highlight clips until days after, cause working with the timecode is a job in itself.

Maybe I’m weird, but video editing and gaming are two tasks that should be separate. It would be cool if the system recorded playing sessions so you could edit the video later, but I could also see it absolutely killing hard drive space, especially if recorded at top quality.

Steve: Good point, unless those clips are also saved to the cloud (which might be a better option that putting it on a hard drive). As for editing, if they can allow a pre-roll bumper, bug (little watermark in the corner), or lower thirds, then I think I’ll bite for livestreaming purposes. I do wonder though how exactly they’ll handle timecoding, as you said. Does it record ten seconds ago? 30 seconds ago? a minute ago?

Also, I hope they offer more services beyond UStream. Most of us use Twitch, and we’ve gotten pretty used to it.

xhipsterpanda: Is it going to be like during gameplay, hit the share button to start recording and again to stop? Seems like an interesting concept. Like upload you getting owned on Facebook.

The select button on the PS3 controller is just kind of there not doing anything. So maybe repurposing that button as a share option would work.

PS4 Conference 10

James: The same Twitch that lagged the shit out of the big PS4 reveal and forced me to find a competent streaming service for the remainder? I’m already tempted to migrate to a place with better servers.

And Jon, that would fail miserably. Share as a record button would only work assuming gamers can predict when something awesome is going to happen, which 9 times out of 10 doesn’t work that way.

xhipsterpanda: In theory, it seems like a good, but not in execution. Besides, there would have to be caps on recording times.

Steve: UStream lagged like hell too (it even went offline!). Had to keep reloading the feed.

James: There wouldn’t need to be a cap, if you had the hard drive space for storage and/or the lengthy clips could be permanently saved on streaming servers. I have 5 – 7 hour recordings on twitch for example.

Here’s the problem : streaming content is already laggy as shit already as Steve and I are pointing out. What’s gonna happen to these servers when everybody with a console has access to these features? Will max video length then be implemented in order to handle the flood of video content? Will the heavier traffic negatively impact the people streaming now? I’ve gotten my share of people complaining about lag in my own streams which have hardly any viewers and little chat usage, will it become worse especially because I have a policy of only streaming in 720/1080p?

I’m glad more people can share the games they play, but worried about whether or not we have an infrastructure that can handle so much more bandwidth being used up.

Hachi76: I’ll confess, specs are not my strong suit. I don’t know my polygon counts, except that “MOAR=BETTAH!”, and I thought the Cell processor was a DBZ reference for the longest (a bit of anime humor for the kiddies there)
My point is, all the numbers and stuff rarely do much for me. So therefore, I fall to the games and the more immediate software:

1. Graphics-wise, I tend to take these things with a grain of salt. We all remember the debacle that was the Killzone 2 trailer back in the day (gosh, those were heady times, weren’t they?). Showing a tech demo and actually using a graphics engine in-gameplay are two separate things. That being said, Quantic Dream never ceases to amaze and terrify with their graphics engines, and avoidance of the uncanny valley is to be admired.

Quantic Dream Tech Demo

2. We continue ever further into the realm of enforced social interaction. I might be one of the few people in the world who was NOT happy with the multiplayer aspect of Journey. If I want other people having input into my game, I’ll play multiplayer, get this scarf wearing motherfucker out of my desert!
…Where was I? Ah yes, so the increased social aspect holds no interest for me.

3. That controller, though! More and more, the touchpad intrudes on my traditions. I support the Wii-U because, like the Wii, the unique nature of its controller is kinda its point. But still, I can’t help but think that this will be another failed offspring of Sony’s weird innovation spikes, like the Move, or Gods help me, the SIXAXIS. Eh, at least it doesn’t look like a banana…

All in all, the tech looks sound, and I know we must always congratulate effort, but I’ll hold on my detailed analysis until more is shown. Plus, we haven’t even gotten any memes yet, and we all know how exciting THOSE are…

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