Go Homeling on a Budget

by SealWyf, HSM Editor

Kassadee Marie has graciously allowed me to borrow the formula of her popular “on a budget” series, so I can celebrate a new article in Home: the Homeling Head Extenders from Lockwood. These Fluidic noggin-enlargers arrive in the x7 store during this week’s update. Next week they will go public, and the distinctive Homeling look will be available to all Home users, regardless of organizational affiliation. And, best of all, they are completely, totally free. You can’t get more “on a budget” than that!

Lockwood has been negotiating with the Homeling Collective for some time about producing Home’s first Homeling-branded virtual goods. A rough paraphrase of our complicated diplomatic and legal inquiries follows:

Lockwood: We would like to make these. (Displays photograph.) Is it all right if we call them “Homeling Head Extenders”?

Homeling Generals’ Council: Really? OMG! Yes! Yes! Yes!

I think you can see why we pushed ahead with our trademark initiative. If anything was going to be called “Homeling”, we wanted to make sure it referred unequivocally to us, and not to some hypothetical group of the same name.

The inflated-cranium look is new for us, but only because it has not previously been available. Until now, we have had to settle for removing our fur (the follicular infestation you humans call “hair”), and exaggerating our facial features. The Home avatar engine is powerful, but it was never designed to create space aliens. Adding this new chrome-dome to our tool-kit opens up all sorts of possibilities.

One of the questions we routinely get from possible recruits is, “What does that suit cost?” Soon they’ll also be asking the same question about the Homeling Head Extender. The purpose of this article is to show that you can, indeed, go Homeling on a budget — because the essential gear is absolutely free!

Our uniform, the Echochrome Suit, is one of the best bargains in Home. You win it by playing the free-to-play Echochrome arcade game, found in the Bowling Alley and Indie Park. And unlocking the suit is not hard; 2000 points in any level gives you all four pieces: top, pants, hands and feet.

The fact that every Homeling has won his or her own Echochrome shows that the game is not all that difficult. But if you get stuck, there is a simple way to cheat. Level B includes an isolated platform, where the enemy shadows never come. Just put your character on this ledge and keep him there for half an hour, occasionally moving the cursor to keep the game from timing out. This should unlock all the rewards, including the distinctive Echochrome Suit, an Echochrome logo tee shirt, a small statue of the Echochrome character, and a table. Or, you can just practice the game until you master it. It’s a lot more satisfying to win your costume honestly.

The Echochrome suit is all you need to dress as a Homeling. And, indeed, for our lower ranks it is the sole acceptable attire. But you may want to dress it up a bit by adding some accessories. Just keep in mind that we maintain a slightly humorous sci-fi look in our accoutrements — the famous “Homeling aesthetic”.

Sparklers are very Homeling, and a number of them have been given out as free rewards. Check your Hand items to see if you own any. You can also carry weapons if they fit the sci-fi look (ray guns yes, automatic pistols no), or swords that have a magical glow. LucasArts’ lightsabers are glorious, though rather expensive. Magical glowing hands are also within the limits, especially if they are green, as are sci-fi boots and gloves, and the glowing Auras.

Goggles, reflective glasses or glowing eyes can be used to dress up your Homeling face. There have been a number of free items in this category. The Bronze steampunk style goggles from Aurora are an excellent choice, and they are free. Glowing eyes can be purchased from Lockwood at $.49 a pair, or $.99 for a set of three. The most popular colors are toxic green, and the whiteout and blackout eyes.

Once you have dressed your Homeling, you will probably want to get him or her a sci-fi style apartment. This is the place to blow the budget if you can afford to. The LOOT Space Station apartment is the quintessential Homeling space, and is well worth the $9.99 it will cost you. It comes with LOOT’s signature “plugged-in” EOD, Flickr and Twitter screens. During the current Open House, you can buy the apartment bundled with an insanely large number of decorative, furniture and active items for only $14.99. It’s well worth the price.

If you can’t afford the LOOT Space Station, or if you simply want to get another sci-fi themed apartment, there are a number of less expensive choices. For the basic apartment cost of $4.99, you can choose from the Nebula Air Ship, Silicon Lounge, Novus Prime Officer’s Quarters, Anime Style, Planetland or the Post Apocalypse Apartment.

Of these, I recommend the Novus Prime space, because it includes a zero-gravity simulation. For a few dollars more, you can add your own private launch point for the Novus Prime game.

Another benefit of the Novus Prime space, from a Homeling perspective, is that it is very easy to glitch. It’s simple to make your way through the floor (Hellfire Games doesn’t seem to mind) and float among the stars. You can’t get more Homeling than that!

If you want to go a bit more upscale, take a look at the new Digital Leisure Space Station Apartment, for $6.99. This space includes several humorous interactions and a challenging asteroid-shooting game. Owners and guests are awarded a number of free items, including a charmingly retro flying saucer companion, which makes the price quite reasonable.

If you really need to stick to a tight budget, remember that almost any space can be made sci-fi with the right furniture. You can even turn your Harbour Studio into a little outpost of Fluidic Space! If you’ve been in Home long enough to win the Saucer Pop chairs and tables, look no farther. If you haven’t, the unlockable furniture items from Sodium 2 are completely free, and have a great gritty-realist sci-fi feel.

Your sci-fi space needs appropriate music, and Home offers two choices: the Novus Prime and 8-Bit music players. Each can be purchased for a reasonable $1.99. However, you might want to wait for LOOT’s portable radio to be released, and get a much wider music choices. And of course if you purchased the LOOT Space Station, the radio is included.

A proper space alien should have a companion, and Home has many candidates. Consider adopting the free Bacon Companion, recently introduced by Lockwood as a Gift Machine exclusive. Homelings are famously obsessed with bacon, so this humorous animated item is highly appropriate. And, since it costs nothing, it is definitely “on a budget”. Ask a friend who owns the Gift Machine to send you one, if you don’t already have it.

If you are feeling more serious, you might prefer to be trailed by a flying saucer. There are two good candidates. One comes free with the Digital Leisure Space Station apartment. The other, available from Mass Media, is the Unidentified Following Object, which looks quite similar. It costs $1.49, which makes it one of the cheapest companions in Home. For $1.99, you can invest in a Baby Robotic Cat from Sony Originals, or Sijed and Bijel, the robotic cobra and jerboa from Lockwood’s Sodium line. But keep in mind that most stationary Homelings are accompanied, not by companions, but Home’s free Bubble Machine.

All in all, being a Homeling can be surprisingly inexpensive. We planned it that way. Many of our members are on tight budgets, and we don’t want anyone to feel left out because they can’t afford the proper costume.

The new free Homeling Head Extenders are very much in the tradition of Homeling economy. We invite all members of the Home community, Homeling or not, to acquire these new expanded noggins, and join us in Fluidic (and inexpensive) glory.


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Sailor Moon for Home

by RadiumEyes, HSM guest contributor

Readers of my very first article will be familiar with my passion for anime, as I make no secret of it. Having been a fan of Japanese animated productions since high school (I grew up on edited U.S. broadcasts of Sailor Moon and other fare), I guess my fascination with anime began pretty early. Now, I still maintain that fascination, and if given the opportunity, I could talk one’s ears off about the various shows out there.

Now, my first article for HomeStation Magazine was a wishlist, focusing on two popular licenses in the anime market (Mobile Suit Gundam and Rose of Versailles), both of which debuted in 1979. Truth be told, I’m not that familiar with either; I haven’t seen many episodes of either show, so my approach to each show took a bit of a historical perspective, and I felt that it wasn’t as extensive as it could have been. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed writing an article for HSM, and I wish to continue as long as I am able. For me, HSM shows how incredibly talented people can work together to produce an equally incredible magazine dedicated to the little box that is the PS3.

Well, it’s time to get to the article at hand. My first wishlist provided but two examples of anime, and making wishlists about anime-licensed costumes can go on for quite some time. This is why I wish to restrict myself in this regard – there are simply too many animated shows out there to choose from, and it’d drive me batty to look at every single show. Thus, some discretion would be prudent for choosing what licenses I think would make a splash on Home.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s wishlist — the wildly popular Sailor Moon franchise. Bear in mind that it’s been ages since I’ve seen it, so I must rely on the Internet to get me up to speed. This series, which first began as a manga by Naoko Takeuichi, basically set the standards for modern magical girl shows to come. The protagonist, clumsy high school student Tsukino Usagi, became the archetypal magical girl — her dual personalities as heroic savior of Tokyo against encroaching villains and ordinary high school student struggling with everyday high school issues clicked with audiences, and she remains an instantly recognizable figure in the anime community. Other Sailor Scouts entered the scene as the franchise progressed, with each having a Scout identity named for a celestial body, and the story’s rich roster of characters interacted wonderfully.

Sailor-Moon-sailor-moon-2949296-1024-768As the central figure, Sailor Moon stands out as the reincarnation of Princess Serenity, who once ruled over a Moon Kingdom. In the first few episodes, Usagi acted alone against Queen Beryl and her nefarious forces, but we know from the beginning that she technically isn’t the first person to obtain her Sailor Scout powers — that honor goes to Aino Minako, who dons the mantle of Sailor Venus. In any event, Sailor Moon initially didn’t have any assistance when she fought various monstrous beings sent by Jadeite to collect human energy, aside from her trusty cat Luna, who actually awakened Usagi to her identity as Sailor Moon.

For the sake of Home, I’ll delve right into the wishlist. Each Sailor Scout has a different color scheme and power set, and since they work as a sentai-like team, they’re best treated as both individuals and members of a cohesive whole. Let’s start with the star of the show, Sailor Moon. We see her in action first, and in the first few episodes, we see her dispatching the baddies with powers tied to particular talismans. Sailor Moon is one of those characters you can recognize by her silhouette alone — she’s that unique, thanks partially to her hairstyle and general physique.

The same can be said of the other Sailor Scouts. For example, Sailor Mars, whose true identity is Hino Rei, has long hair and long legs which set her apart from her peers. As the Scouts each get their individual introductions throughout the franchise’s run, we’re introduced to a pretty diverse set of personalities; this includes Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, who happen to be lovers. Kaioh Michiru (Sailor Neptune’s civilian identity) is presented as cold and dedicated, as well as elegant, while Tenoh Hamura (Sailor Uranus) is stubborn but doting.

Amazon.Trio.full.90405Now, including costumes for the major cast would be a little daunting, since there are ten Sailor Scouts in all. Only including the Sailor Scouts would mean that male-specific costumes would be left out in the cold; thankfully, the show does include numerous important male figures throughout. The most famous of these male characters would be Tuxedo Kamen, who works alongside the Sailor Scouts, but he’s only one man — we’d need to look into the antagonists for more material, if the male-to-female ratio were to be even. This will include prominent members of the Dark Kingdom (Jadeite, Kunzite, Nephrite and Zoisite), Black Moon Clan (Death Phantom, Crimson Rubeus, Blue Saphir and Prince Demand) and others from subsequent story arcs (the Amazon Trio of the Dead Moon Circus being examples).

This laundry list of characters would be exhausting to code, and likely would take quite some time to put into place — which is why I would like to see Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Kamen, Sailor Venus and Jadeite appear first, with the other characters following in subsequent releases. Having all of them debut simultaneously would be overwhelming, so spreading costumes out over a few weeks would give people some breather time, and allow the developer to gauge how Sailor Moon costumes would fare on Home.

See You, Space Cowboy: A Cowboy Bebop Wishlist

 by RadiumEyes, HSM team writer

“On glancing over my notes of the seventy odd cases in which I have during the last eight years studied the methods of my friend Sherlock Holmes, I find many tragic, some comic, a large number merely strange, but none commonplace [. . .]”

Thus began the short story “The Speckled Band,” one of several Sherlock Holmes tales (almost always told by his long-suffering assistant, Dr. John H. Watson). The inimitable detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle invariably took on curious cases that demanded a highly deductive mind and an incredible attention to detail; Holmes excelled at both, and he always humbled Lestrade after solving cases that baffled Scotland Yard. Watson’s statement about his association with Holmes is an apt description – Holmes certainly found himself following cases both tragic and comic, not to mention “merely strange.” Holmes was at his best when dealing with unusual crimes, and his intellectual acumen ultimately brought about a resolution.

But this article will not be about Sherlock Holmes. Instead, it concerns a fairly popular anime from 1998 – Cowboy Bebop. One could easily apply Watson’s description of Sherlock Holmes to the cast of Cowboy Bebop, a group of ragtag spacefarers who travel the spaceways to collect bounties and confront their respective pasts. Director Shin’ichirō Watanabe found a hit formula with the series, a combination of ‘60s and ‘70s film noir and westerns, with a great jazz score provided by Yoko Kanno (who would later work with Watanabe again on Sakamichi no Apollon, a jazz-heavy series in its own right). Bebop became one of the most popular shows of the late 1990s, particularly in the United States; anime fans the world over can recognize the show’s incredible opening theme, performed by The Seatbelts.

spike-spiegel   The show focuses on a cast of characters who all have checkered pasts; Spike Spiegel, in particular, once ran with the Red Dragon Syndicate, a system-wide gang led by mysterious figures known as The Van. It was during his time with the syndicate that Spike met Vicious (the two were partners in crime) and his love interest, Julia. When Spike leaves Red Dragon, he’s haunted by memories of his time as a member, and Vicious remains active; the two antagonize each other throughout the series, and their rivalry culminates in a fierce battle for survival. Spike’s past can’t give him a break, and he is forced to deal with Vicious and finally remove himself completely from the syndicate’s scope.

On the other side of the spectrum is confidante and fellow Bebop crewman Jet Black, who used to work for the ISSP. A fan of Charlie Parker and bonsai trees, Jet left the police force when a partner betrayed him, leaving him with a missing arm; he eventually received a cybernetic replacement for that arm, but the damage is done – Jet’s now floating around space as a bounty hunter, without a steady source of income. He’s not the stalwart cop he used to be, but he remains stoic and reliable.

Cowboy Bebop is one of those shows that you’ll never forget once you see it. The characters feel aimless, unable to escape their early misdeeds; their jobs as bounty hunters are merely a means of obtaining money, and their success/failure ratio is pretty unsatisfactory. You’re pulled into their heady world, one where Mars has been colonized, and criminal activity seems rampant. Spike, Jet and Faye Valentine (who had been frozen for some time) live in a pretty confusing and intense environment, and every bounty they chase can quickly turn violent. It’s a tragic show, through and through, but not without its comic elements – Cowboy Bebop manages to balance humor and drama very well, and it provides a glimpse into a future where society hasn’t improved much since space travel became commonplace.

So, how can this show translate into Home? I’ve already covered three IPs before – Sailor Moon in one article, Rose of Versailles and Mobile Suit Gundam in the other – and this would be my fourth foray into this. Cowboy Bebop ranks pretty high in estimation among anime fans, and its broadcast on U.S. television certainly helped it gain ground among anime fans in the Americas. That very disillusionment the characters feel drive the show; the protagonists are veritable castaways, living on the other side of the tracks and without a safety net. Cowboy Bebop remains a quintessential production, a potent combination of various influences and motifs that Quentin Tarantino would definitely approve of.

As far as Home is concerned, having costumes for Spike, Jet, Faye and Julia would be the most prudent choices. These four characters are pretty recognizable and distinct, and being central characters, they’re shoe-ins for material. We could include Vicious as well, the only recurring antagonist in the series; he’s a merciless man, and he hounds Spike endlessly. As for other characters, most episodes feature a single antagonist that doesn’t survive that episode; it would be interesting to see characters such as Alicia (Jet’s ex-girlfriend) and various single-episode characters (especially someone as unique as Mad Pierrot), but they’re all secondary in importance.

2_Ein2Now Ein, the highly intelligent Pembroke Welsh Corgi, would make for an excellent companion. Dog companions already exist, and a Corgi would be a welcome addition. The Bebop can serve as a personal space, as well; the protagonists pretty much call it home, and it’s a nice design. There could be more potential here (perhaps a jukebox that plays the OP and ED songs along with some incidental music). Like Evangelion, however, Cowboy Bebop is pretty violent, but Evangelion already saw Home content in Japan, so Bebop can follow that example. Adding the music would definitely help set the atmosphere – the soundtrack is extraordinary, and complements an amazing (if violent) series.

Licensing an external IP for Home is always a tricky process — but Cowboy Bebop might just be one worth the effort.


Cogs in the Hub: Interviews With Lazy 8 Studios and Codename

by Jersquall, HSM Podcast Editor

Think back to when you entered Home for the first time.

It was an awe-inspiring – if slightly bewildering – total immersion. The ultimate sandbox experience, utterly open to your every whim, yet daunting in terms of trying to learn a brand-new culture and set of social mores. Imagine being dropped off in the middle of Nan Madol, at the height of its glory, and trying to learn all the customs and cultural practices of the Saudeleur Dynasty in a single day.

And thus, as gamers confronted with the bizarre new world of virtual reality, many of us without keyboards to communicate with, we instinctively sought the one thing we were instantly comfortable with:


For many, their first game was Saucer Pop, in the middle of Central Plaza. And it’s easy to see why. Set in the middle of the hustle and bustle of theplaza, it was a charming, innocuous oasis for everyone to enjoy. And, on a direct line of sight from Saucer Pop, the new visitor could see the entrance to the bowling alley. Which led to pool tables and arcade games. And thus, through the familiarity of gaming, the visitor became a Home citizen.

All things evolve, but some remain the same.

PlayStation Home has always been positioned as a social platform; now it seems that SCEA is going to throw in even more social games into the mix. If Home transitions into more of a social gaming platform, and its population remains comprised of console gamers, will that not in fact help realize Home’s original goal of being a social network for gamers? To that end, independent label Codename is developing a series of exclusive games for PlayStation Home.

With the announcement of the Hub, which will be released in the fall, and to reinforce their evolution into the ultimate social gaming platform on consoles, SCEA and Codename will work together to gather indie developers from around the world who can create games for Home on PlayStation 3.

The focus seems to be on the social and gaming element, highlighting the ability to “share, interact and communicate with new and existing friends.”

Keep in mind that while this is not a new trend in the gaming industry, it is something which only Sony had the courage to pioneer with video game consoles. You won’t find a virtual reality application on any other gaming console out there.

And, further, this is far, far from being just a fad – and woe to those who think of Home as some trivial curiosity with no real teeth.

Example. Less than century ago, it was commonly-accepted belief that the most powerful military force in the world was the naval battleship. And, indeed, battleships had an amazing run. Yet only five years after the battleship’s last shining moment in the sun – Jutland, 1916 – Billy Mitchell turned everything inside-out when he demonstrated that a rickety biplane could take out an entire ship with nothing more than a single bomb.

The basic concept that dropping something on your target rather than throwing something at your target completely changed warfare tactics. As a result, not only was a new (and gigantic) industry born – military aeronautics – but a brand new type of ship was created: the aircraft carrier. Meanwhile, the battleship is no longer a part of the active U.S. Navy.

And, today, we all know that the carrier is the ultimate naval force in the world. Just as we all knew, a century ago, that the battleship was.

Home is the aircraft carrier of the video gaming industry. And its games are its fighters. Sure, a Sopwith Camel isn’t nearly as visually or aurally impressive as a ship of the line engaging in full broadside – just as Home’s games have yet to rival the oohs and aahs of many of today’s top-tier gaming titles – but ultimately we all know that the carrier, with its fighters, is where the power is.

So now then. The Hub. What sort of gaming experiences will it provide? What will it do better than the old Central Plaza when welcoming a new citizen into its midst?

Home will host a 3D version of Lazy8′s gear-based puzzler, Cogs, as the featured game in the Hub. Cogs is an award-winning puzzle game where players build an incredible variety of machines from sliding tiles.

I had a chance to interview Lazy 8 Studios founder and Cogs creator Rob Jagnow, as well as the developers of the Home Hub Cogs game, Codename.

Jersquall: Hi, Rob; thanks for taking time for an interview.

Rob: It’s my pleasure.

Jersquall: Cogs — it’s coming to Home! For those who don’t know, what is Cogs?

Rob: Cogs is a puzzle game where players build machines from sliding tiles. When players get started, the puzzles are relatively simple — you’ll slide around gears on a 2D playing board to complete a simple mechanism.  But it doesn’t take long before the machines get quite complicated.  Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself working with all sorts of 3D contraptions using pipes, gears, hammers, chimes, wheels, propellers and more.  Every machine is a little different.  On one puzzle, you may need to power a vehicle.  On the next you’ll need to get the timing of several gears just right to play a musical tune.

Jersquall: What can first-time players expect? Massive addiction?

Rob: That all depends on you.  Some players find the puzzles frustrating.  But for players who want a real challenge set in a beautiful steampunk environment, then Cogs has
proven to be really addictive.  One fan just wrote me and said he’s spent over 45 hours on the PC version of the game.  Players write me all the time asking how they can erase their saved data so that they can start again from the beginning.

Jersquall: How was Cogs created? From idea to finish.

Rob: One of my favorite games as a kid was The Incredible Machine.  In it, players built Rube-Goldberg-style contraptions to achieve a particular goal.  I wanted to capture that feeling of invention and experimentation in a more polished 3D environment.  When I started prototyping, sliding tiles made sense as a way to constrain the game mechanics and offer an extra challenge.

It started as a part-time side project and took almost five years to see Cogs through to completion.  Since its April 2009 release on the PC, I have since ported it to iPhone, iPad, netbook and Mac.  Now, of course, Codename has brought it to life in Home.

Jersquall: How has Cogs changed your life?

Rob: It took a while for it to get some attention, but at this point, I can say that Cogs has been a huge success. In fact, last year, it won the $100,000 grand prize in the professional category at the Indie Game Challenge.  This has given me enough of a budget to allow me to take a huge risk on my next project and do something experimental.  The new game is called Extrasolar.  It will still be months before it’s done, but we’ve launched the teaser at http://www.exoresearch.com

Jersquall: Codename has developed Cogs for the Home Hub. Tell us about team Codename?

Rob: I already knew a bunch of the folks at Codename through our mutual connections at IndieCade, a fantastic annual independent game festival near Los Angeles.  When they approached to see if I was interested in getting Cogs on Home, I was really excited about the idea.  They have a talented team and I think they’ve done a beautiful job.

Jersquall: Do you still play Cogs?

Rob: Of course! Even after working on the game for years, I’m still not tired of it.

Jersquall: Rob, HomeStation Magazine wishes Lazy 8 Studios’ continued success; thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Rob: Thank you!


Sony and Codename will bring more attention to PlayStation Home and the PlayStation 3 for indie developers.

Codename itself began development on Super Awesome Mountain RPG for PlayStation Home, which is described as blending a board game with fantasy RPG elements. When reached for comment, SCEA PlayStation Home Community Managers said that both parties had currently put the project on hold to focus on development of other content.

I had the chance to talk to Codename CEO Jesse Vigil about developing games for PlayStation Home and more.


Jersquall: Tell us a little about Codename? 

Codename: Codename is a new business model in the game space. We call it a “label” for independent games. Practically what that means is that we care passionately about bringing independent games to a larger audience and about creating new and exciting kinds of play experiences. We work with established talent like Rob and try to find a cool thing to do together. We discover and nurture new talent, like the guys at Peanut Gallery who are real superstars and who we paired with Rob to adapt “Cogs” for Home. And we have our own small internal studio of multidisciplinary ninjas who do everything from concepting and design to the boots-on-the-ground work that gets the game on the console and in your living room.

Jersquall: Tell us about Codename and its partnership with Home. What will Codename do for Home? 

Codename: The people at Home have been AMAZING. I’ll admit they took a big chance on us, but it’s been working out really well. We have an ongoing partnership with them to bring a wide variety of independent games to Home in increasingly near future. A lot of those are for the new player experience they unveiled recently which includes launch content like “Cogs.”

One thing we’re really proud of in our relationship with Home is the team-ups and partnerships we’re putting together. For one of our upcoming games, we put together a talented designer from the mainstream industry — who has since gone indie — with an up-and-coming toy designer. We thought they’d make a cool game if they put their heads together and we’re all very excited about what came out of that. This isn’t just porting indie games to Home. Even Cogs, which is such an amazing game, has some surprises planned that are unique to Home and really take advantage of what’s different about the platform.

Jersquall: Indie games have come a long way. Do you get tired of being called an indie game company, or is it a badge of courage? 

Codename: Game folks (and Wil Wheaton) make up about 90% of my follow list on Twitter. Someone crossed my feed last week who said something to the effect of, “I hope my game doesn’t get too popular or I won’t be indie anymore.” Really? What the eff, dude? You hope millions of people don’t fall in love with something you made and want to play it all the time? I have news for you, dude: you’re not an independent game designer. You’re a snob.

I have a huge issue with the idea that “indie” means “fringe” or “not commercially viable.” It means independent. It means you made it the way you wanted to make it and it’s the product of your unique perspective, experience, taste, or whatever. That’s it.

The fact of the matter is that we at Codename are thrilled with the growing popularity of independent games. We love these games, and we love the people who make them. When our friends and family members tell us about how they discovered this thing called “Flower” or “Braid” and say, “is that the kind of thing you’re doing? Because that was an amazing game,” how could we feel anything but pride?

Jersquall: You are partnering with PlayStation Home to create and develop games that step outside the parameters of traditional game development. Not an easy challenge? 

Codename: Correct! And I’ll be the first to admit that we’re learning as we go. A lot of the challenge is being the intermediary between a large publisher that is used to games being made a certain way on one end and a designer used to making games a decidedly different way on the other end. One of the reasons I’m so glad to be working with someone like Jack Buser is that he gets that we’re playing the long game here. We’re going to try a lot of different stuff together. Some of it may not work the way we hoped, but some other stuff is going to really click and that’s going to be amazing.

Jersquall: It was announced several months ago that Codename has a handful of games in development for Home. Which games can you talk about? 

Codename: For just a little while longer, I can only be maddeningly vague. Here’s what I can say: you can look forward to a pretty diverse slate in the coming months. There are a couple of pick-up-and-play things in the works that are a unique take on arcade and casual. If you want a solid action game from a pretty neat perspective, we’ve got you covered. And the thing I alluded to earlier from the unique game/toy designer pair is also coming very soon, and we should be talking about pretty quickly.

Jersquall: Home has been more of a social community enjoying single-player games, but over the last year more multiplayer games have been introduced. Will Codename bring both single and multiplayer games to Home? 

Codename: Yes, though something we learned from “Slap Happy Sam’s Stage Show” was that our games need to be fun if you’re the only person in the room who wants to play it. That game is SO fun with six people, but being multiplayer-only made it hard for the game to stay popular. A great single player experience that gets even better with multiplayer is where we’re looking for lately.

Jersquall: Will these games have rewards for Home users? 

Codename: Oh heavens, yes. I want to tell the longtime Home veterans that we’re new on the block and we’re still learning what you want out of rewards and what you’ve gotten sick of, but we know it’s important and are working on making the rewards a more integral part of the design process in some of the games we do next. We have some great producers over at PlayStation Home who are helping us with that, too.

Jersquall: Free to play, pay to play and purchasing of full games have become the norm for PlayStation Home users. Can we expect a little of each from Codename team games? 

Codename: Yes, and it really varies from game to game and what makes sense for the game. Some of them are going to have a mix, some are going to be straight-up free, some are going to favor one more heavily than another.

Jersquall: What do you think about PlayStation Home? 

Codename: The thing that I always say when I get asked this question is this: It is a unique platform. When we first met the Home producers I logged in one night to look around some more because I really wanted to play everything and know all there was to know about Home. I ended up in Sully’s Bar and after ten minutes I realized there was a group of people in that bar who met there every night to shoot the breeze. I played the arcade game in the corner and then sat on the bar and talked to them and I remember thinking, “this is not the rest of the PlayStation 3. This is a different audience. Of course they want different games.”

Jersquall: Do any of the Codename team’s games look like they have the possibility of sequels or even DLC in their future if successful? 

Codename: If successful, hells yes. And some stuff is already planned. When the new districts go live, there are a few subtle signs in our stuff that should hint that we’re not done with some of the games or worlds we’re creating by a long shot.

Jersquall: Thank you, Codename. We are looking forward to seeing your games in PlayStation Home. Will we see Codename hanging out and playing games in the very near future in Home? 

Codename: Yes. You will. When the games go live, we’ll tweet (@codenamegames) when we’re playing. And we want to get to know the Home players. We’re a small studio and we’re in this for the long haul like I said, so we care about your feedback and want to make things that will entertain you and that you feel good about spending money on them.


Looking back at a few of the other social games in Home — SlapHappy Sam, Sodium 2, Novus Prime — and special social game event hits like Killzone Plaza Defender and recently Dead island TGI, these games have caught the attention of regular Home users and have even made the hardcore gamers pay a visit to the Home community to see what everyone’s been talking about.  This is a necessity, because the PS3’s installed user base is a population full of gamers. And, right now, this industry is in a transition no less significant than the aforementioned example of the battleship to the aircraft carrier.

Ninety years ago, all it took were some small, unassuming biplanes to change the course of military warfare forever. Ninety years later, all it took were some small, unassuming games to change the course of video-gaming entertainment forever.

Cogs is no less significant than the Sopwith Camel. And Home is the aircraft carrier to the industry’s majestic array of battleships. All it takes is the right fighters – the right games – for the carrier to inevitably win.

In five years, Billy Mitchell rewrote the rules of large-scale armed combat.

In five years, Jack Buser rewrote the rules of large-scale console-based gaming.

In time, it is conceivable that the names of the game developers arrayed with the emerging future Home is bringing about will become as prominent as Lockheed, Grumman or General Dynamics are today to the world of military aeronautics.

Or, let me put it to you this way: five years ago, who the hell had ever heard of Zynga?

And, today, who hasn’t?

With event more social games coming from Codename in the fall, the newest addition and reimagining of Home is and has been underway for some time now. Not only will Home be taking care of its user fan base, but it will encourage new users to come Home sit back turn on their cig herb maker and play.

Home has been turning heads lately, and soon will also be welcoming the prodigal sons and daughters who have left to strictly game to come back Home to game. In the process, they just might find they want to talk to each other. And thus the dream of a social network for gamers will have been realized.

Funny how games were the key to making that happen.

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