Ken Kutaragi took this year's opening keynote, and a combination of long-windedness, boring content and bad translators made for a fantastically dreary speech. What a change from last year, when a chirpy Nintendo took the stage, and unveiled their Wiimote...
I've typed up what livenotes I took, but it doesn't make for very good
reading at all. A rather basic summary would be that Sony seem to be
banking on two major things: realtime realism, and the power of the network. Interesting snippets came in the form of their noticing maps (Google), web 2.0 and user generated content; that bit was very interesting indeed, unfortunately it was also quite short.
The PS3 is, as you can imagine, very good at reproducing realistic visuals. Cars on a track, wildebeest wandering across the savannah, mud splattering off bike wheels, oil glistening on plasticene skin. The problem is that it's wandered straight off into the Uncanny Valley. Humans are creepy, animals look animated and awkward in places. Landscapes are unilaterally perfect. The best games showing off its power are actually the brightly coloured, full fantasy games; unfortunately a large chunk of games on show just look like.. well, real cars driving around a real track. Snore.
Realtime also leads Sony to explain their computing power (excessive
for now, but supposedly futureproof) and this idea that they're calling
the Global Map System (GBS). The GBS is satellite photos and
data feeding directly into games - it doesn't sound like anyone's
developed it yet, and more that Sony are asking the dev community to
have a go, for if the dev community can save on having to manually
create that stuff, then everyone benefits.
Power of the network
This is where it got a little weird: remember the idea a decade or so ago of the networked computer, a thin terminal attached to the internet (or a network), with all the data and applications at the serverside? Well - Sony lurve this idea, and they are touting the PS3 as the very same thin terminal, with the internet and homeside servers as the, uh, power of the network. Centralised content? It wasn't clear. Certainly they'll be offering the ability to upload and download content, share content, and receive some forms of communications and broadcasts.
There were few specifics though.
(Nearly) lastly, Sony finished off with a little finger-wagging at the development community: "why so many sequels?", Ken asked, having demo'ed Ridge Racer SEVEN, Virtua Fighter FIVE, Mobile Suit Gundam SIX (at least, if I'm not wrong) and Final Fantasy THIRTEEN. He concludes: innovation will come from users, or the power of the network, or by returning game designers to the creative process instead of having them out there photographing cars and landscapes for the next racing game.
I may as well put up the notes I took, and apologies to you folks reading this via RSS: "read more" links don't work so you'll see it whether you like it or not, and it's very, VERY long.
Photos from the floor coming soon.
Oh yes: BBC News on TGS, while we're at it.
“Playstation 3: creating next generation computer entertainment”: Ken Kutaragi.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
To begin I’d like to thank our sponsor, the CESA; [more thanks]
We are on the eve of the launch of the PS3. The next generation will open the doors to the new generation of computer entertainment. Myself included, all the stakeholders in the industry are very happy that we have such a large attendance here. This venue is the launch of the PS3. We have brought 200 consoles and development tools to let you enjoy the PS3. We’re working with software suppliers and we have the largest launch lineup ever playable, in this venue, and all our reps would like to invite you to actually feel the Playstation 3 and have a glimpse at the new world that will be created in computer entertainment in the next generation.
But let me spend 5 minutes introducing the PS3 video which we are showing at our booth.
- Ridge racer SEVEN
- Virtua fighter FIVE (nice flesh shine)
- Mobile Suit Gundam: Target In Sight - “realistically detailed weaponry and environments”, “all sorts of mobile suits”…
- Final Fantasy XIII
How do you like that?
I know that you’ve enjoyed them more than fully. 12 years ago when the first Playstation was introduced, the pictures were plain: Virtua Fighter, Gundam and Final Fantasy, remember those games then? And now think of what you just saw. Enormous amount of content has been created, and enormous progress has been made. In 1983, the 8bit console was first introduced, and in the 12 years since then [processors?] have improved by 4 orders of magnitude, the computing power by 5 orders, and the […] thanks to all of you who distributed all those softwares. They will be in your hands, and you will be able to enjoy them in just a few moments.
I am very happy that this progress has been achieved. One of the differentiating factors of these tools is that they’re realtime. This is the difference games can offer over all other systems, including personal computers. The controller has improved in a most remarkable way: you need a fast […] operation when controllers are used in computer entertainment, and […] they require intuitive and versatile input operations. Things not dreamed of before are about to be realized and will be the defacto standard in the days ahead. Fast calculations and computation will be needed, and all these resources will be [needed?..]; we have state of the art semiconductors and micropositors.
These techniques and technologies have been used in the world of computers, and now they’re in the game world, and game engineers can take advantage of these. That’s where we are in the industry, and the power of the industry is imminent upon us. Computer entertainment - our industry - comprises […] combination of computing and entertainment. We’ve brought the core of mainframe computing to us.
PCs are at the point of perfection, and insodoing they use bigger and bigger operation systems, and compared to when we were young the convenience offered by the PC, but because the enormo [is fantastic] but [because of] the huge OS and giant functions, it has lost some elements of realtime responses. The games are different, games are realtime, realtime is key. Therefore the computer industry and game industry come together and we believe a breakthrough is now upon us.
Previously we had computers in our hand, and we monopolized them to do the computing process for us. But now we move 180 degrees and all this power is on the network. Anyone connected will have access to that power. This was proposed by Oracle ten years ago, but then computer and network speeds were too slow. But today the network – thanks to the internet - has made a global reach in bandwidth, and computers themselves [have evolved] .. look at the PC, the power in your hands, unthinkable a few years ago. In terms of computer power it is more than adequate for our purpose, and on the other side of the network we have large storage and servers, which everyone can access. So in your hands you have a small PC, [difficult to keep?].. secure against virus.. but computers on server can be maintained in a unilateral way. This is why the market is moving to the other side of the network.
All the accumulation of the computing power is on the network, the giant databases and the search engines. These allow us to experience virtual access to a supercomputer. The client side is therefore light and speedy. You don’t need fast processors in your own computers. Even mobile phones can be used to access all the powers that exist on the other side of the network.
One very interesting application is the map database. Using the latest services you can get pictures taken by satellites, and all the existing map data, plus the dimensions of buildings. You can use the joystick to fly through the landscape using that database. But the current resolution will only allow you to see the pictures in rough shape and they will have seasonal differences. Cars on the road are not moving. So it’s not for realtime entertainment. The problem is that time is frozen. But still there is enormous opportunity and possibilities there.
All the road and land and boundaries are available at the legal affairs bureau of government authorities, and all the buildlings, well you can look at building permits. You have all that information available, and this can be hyperlinked on the network. Imagine, the possiblities are enormous. I’m talking about Ridge Racer, the landscape required for that, well, today the gamesoft producers have to do that work actually on their foot, almost, you have to take actual photos. In the case of fantasy, people have to think it up in their heads. But with these databases available on the network, you can incorporate this information in your environment in a very realistic way. You may think this is a long way off, but the map info is available, and now the thin client, handheld terminals […] with all the processing on the other side
If in the production of the gamesoft we can introduce this, it will be enormous, because today development cost are enormous. Particularly if you’re talking about the real environments. But if the data is available, again the opportunity is enormous. These next generation platforms will have powerful engines. Control to operate them realtime. Users will upload their personal environments – and you will have your map database. We call this the Global Map System. If we can create that, open to everyone, users will be invited to upload their data. If playstation offers such a proposal, users will start with info from their living room, their shops, school, the office … you have to think about corporate security – but all this info can be uploaded by users themselves!
Digital handycam and digital photos have been around for a while. Grassroot initiative: GMS will become a global mapping system and this is not a pipe dream, this is almost available now. By accessing this while using the game platform, you can enjoy scenery and landscape realtime. That’s been our dream.
Today the documentation and reading material can be searched using the search engines available today, but in the future if computing power becomes larger, if there’s a superagent available, then creation of personalized travel or shopping would not be a mere dream but in the realm of possibility. For those looking forward to those services, for those thinking of providing them , enormous opportunity! Very exciting. This industry will not be bound only by entertainment content, but providing a much broader range of economic activities, because this will not be achievable if worked on just by ourselves, we will need the support of all of you. The GMS is a very realistic propostition.
But the creation of the fantasy world is very important. Disney World. Virtual worlds in films. All that can be created. The creation of fantasy: there are high hopes where the entertainment industry is concerned. All this brings us a huge economic opportunity, because of the participation of other industries. We will no longer have to collect data on foot for landscapes for instance. We will be able to use the money and time for other purposes, like development. We can concentrate on creative or artistic side of games creation. If you take a look at the development process, there’s a artistic side but we also need programmers and skilled network technologists. They can be part of this global network. Resources don’t need to be in your own company – if you’re connected to the network, you can find the power of creativitiy for your games. That’s the mission of the game industry. All these technologies will be avail for you to use, and you have to use them, and this will bring us a world of comfort and convenience.
Gran Turismo, as you know, goes to the Grand Canyon, and Nuremburg courses. You have to film on location at those venues. You mount a camera on the car, the cars have to be put in as well. Land surveys are done to get the landscape data. Roadside billoards have to be produced now. GT cars running on the course are actual cars in terms of bodies, rigidity, the tyre traction, the center of gravity … all that data has be obtained from the car manufacturers. Technical data is received [by us] from CAD systems and this is translated into data structures used in Playstation.
Combined with physical simulation we have reality presented by a console system. Like driving through the actual racecourse. But if you have a database, you don’t have to put in all the data from scratch, like the CAD data. Thanks to the car manufacturers, we are saving a lot of time instead of doing that ourselves. That’s an overlap between the game world and real world – sometimes totally unimaginable business opportunities. Joint business chlallenges, if I may call them, will be available [to you]. The GMS is just one example which will allow cross-industry activities.
This is not limited to Playstation3 but to platforms connected to the network. We need an open system. Like an internet. People can have a first hand experience: the network world of the game has to be open to everyone. The development environment has to be open to the network as well. We are going to accelerate this to make sure the system is open.
This is how we get innovation and drastic ideas. Today I don’t have to talk about internet, it’s used by medicine, b2b, shopping, security, it’s everywhere. It’s used by administration. The internet, only 10 years ago, was problematic because of the speed of the connection. But actually all this began when the first server was created over 30 yrs ago. The internet is nothing but a collection of [tubes. Haha just kidding] an enormous number of servers. The connections between them connected by the shared IP protocol: the net, the logical computer system is now within our reach.
Recently we can use a handycam or stills camera […] the rich content can be easily uploaded to the internet by users. Under those circumstances there is the border between communications and broadcasting, but that border has been lowered. What’s the relationship between communications and broadcasting? [Something about the ccountermeasure against remote areas and disruption fo the radio wave] but the fundamental change is in the utpload of massive amounts of conent from the users. Recently web 2.0 and the possibility has emerged and there’s a lot of power has been shown to us. I believe that that potential is with us.
The long tail.. contents and services.. do not expand to the mass market, and are buried in a packaged-media era. Users are aware of the excitement of these servers, and users want to transmit this content. CDrom was introduced 12 years ago for distribution. In those days this method was using [maskROM?], and this featured high production cost and lead times. High costs and burden. Lots of problems. CD-Rom was much cheaper and quicker.. because of the various new advantages, it could be shared by media producers and users. This really met the requirement.
[Alice's note: what on earth is he on about?]
Long tail business: usually a large number of titles, provided to users, this trend has been created over the last 12 years. Recently we have seen the new phenomenon of back [..] what sells and what does not sell. We are more cautious about accepting new titles. I think that is reputation of the gaming world. But we seek diversity and expression of creativity, so in light of that the current game industry relies too heavily on easy-to-sell sequels. I think we need a warning signal to the industry.
Business reasons have been retreated to a certain extent, and users have become less aggressive, they wait for what we give them next, they’ve become passive. So from myself and SCEE the base of thought is just innovation. Without innovation we believe there is no sustainable development in our view. So we have identified many problems in our industry. The creativity should be the basis of the industry. This needs to be reviewed once again, and we should [..] individual problem, and we ready for the new network-ready period from now on.
If you look at the current network components, the sub clusters, lines and infrastructure, and realtime quality of the game and gaming equipment has not been materialized yet by the network. Read today’s newspaper, the VOIP has collapses, and that was reported by news this morning. The cause has not been found. This has caused a lot of trouble. This is still the reality we have to deal with: the server which consists of the network – they have taken over the traditional PC architechture. Even using gigabit Ethernet, the current services haven’t reached the bus speed fof the first Playstation 12 years ago. HD quality video and handling realtime, I think it still takes time to realize this. I think after 10 years we’ll have a time when this is fully realised. So the equipment in Playstation3 maybe called overkill because it has enormous computing power now, but this will become necessary later.
The gaming equipment.. anyone who buys it can be connected to their TV and an always-on environment; I think the best opportunity to connect the Playstation to the network has finally come true. Over the next 2-3 yrs the network must live together with package media, playing a complimentary role. We have to use package media for the time being. But the network can use other media. And so we look at the reality for the network and we start with what we can do. The interactive nature of the network should be used to the full extent of the system.
[Tedious technical description of Playstation3]
Using the same system HDMI, to integrate the computer and TV display, text data and gameplaying, sitting on the sofa … that can be done simultaneously. Not only users but creators can exchange information over the network. They can request a new game; or share games with others over the network. Over the last 12 years together with you we have built a huge game library. Ps1/ps2 combined have 1000s of titles. Ps3 has emulation function to emulate them over the network. Users can download them to play them together. In 2000 when we announced Playstation2, I talked about that possibility. Finally in 2006 it has become reality.
For the PS3 the emulation environment can be used, and data is transmitted from the server. This needs your support. We need your cooperation. For users, pay to play allows the users to choose the game of their preference. There are many good hardwares produced by the industry, and softwares, for example Megadrive titles, or PC titles. Through the emulator, and with your permission and authorisation, we would like to expand the world of the PS3 further. Not only movies [from Hollywood] but also movies shot by individuals.
In your living room you should be able to upload content. Using the PC or mobile too it should be possible to exchange info. What we wish to do is .. we want to have the pilot equipment on storefront: we have 15000 units shipping in US/Japan that will be installed in the shopfront. Of course that needs to be consulted with retailers. [We want to] connect those equipment to the network. Like street corner TV, this can be used for promotion. It is possible to make small amounts of charging or billing. If you visit the store, if you want to just pay 300 Y for a card, you can just enjoy it. I think this possibility exists. We have presented this to retailers.
Los AlamosBeyond the network we would like programmes. Enormous amount of stills. On the server, beyond the network. This is not only conceived by us, but also by the entertainment industry and the pharmaceutical industry. They need realtime too. IBM announced recently the plan to supply [Los Alamos?] .. with Roadrunner. 16000 cells. At SCEE we joined folding@home which is a joint project. There are many PCs throughout the world, using the computation power of the computer processors in the world, we tried to elucidate the genes of diseases like Alzheimers. We should combine everyone’s power and efforts, that’s the nature of folding@home.
In the ps3, we put on folding.com and the experiment has continued. Higher processing can be achieved by ps3; with the endorsement of users, if we interconnect a million units, we have computational power that we have never dreamed of before. Science or medical can benefit from this power. Playing games is great fun, but we can make great contributions to society if we can use this power [for good]. With the power of the network the important uses become possible.
The programmers are available to jointly access the network; gaming programmers, artists join and jointly they produce a game. Ps3 has the CELL; in our development environment, the infrastructure of folding.com is available, and users can directly contact that production scene. Over the network you can see the progress of our new game production; users can upload content. The industry may get new ideas from users who upload their content. So every day new ideas may come in. That era has become reality. We will very soon see the start of that era.
For instance: for movies. You looked at the [..] you can jack in and watch the new world. We are very lucky to live in this era. We try to open the door for the future. We have shown you great progress of the game industry over 10 years; perhaps what will happen over the next 10 years will be more interesting and dynamic compared to the past 10 years. I can declare that we will take the initiative to lead this new trend: the ps3 and the new generation platforms expect to play an important part in this trend. I feel very pleased to be involved in ps3. We are living in very happy times. With your support, we would like to continue to evolve the next generation of the computer entertainment world.
Lastly I will show you the video of the signs of this possibility. Thank you very much.
[AFRIKA: not very interesting demo of lots of african wildlife doing what african wildlife do.]
I'm not sure Sony aren't in very deep trouble right now. It sure wasn't a reassuring or inspiring speech to sit through, that's for certain...