on 17-06-2009 12:03 AM
Here's the text from last Friday's Q&A. It's spread over several posts as there seems to be a 20,000 character limit to each post!
The log I received from SCEE had some gaps in it. I've filled these in with the notes I made on the day. I've shown this with [square brackets].
Many many thanks to Carla_Birch and Gekidami for their help and support.
Thanks to the SCEE team (most of whom seemed to turn up) for allowing us to ask them questions.
EssexJames: Shall we do some very brief intros
Drexl: Hi all
Drexl: Happy Friday
EssexJames: I'm James, from Essex, and until yesterday I was the Kudos leader until ted stole my crown by stick [I meant to say by stickying his own threads]
Gekidami: I am Gekidami... that is all
EssexJames: Drexl - for the record - who are you?
Drexl: Drexl, SCEE Home Business Manager
TedTheDog:Ted - Home Community Lead
Alize_Mod: Hi I'm Alize, I'm part of the Community team
Yaster: Hello I’m Yaster, Community Team Moderator
EssexJames: And last but by no means least, Moshii
Moshii: Hello :3
EssexJames: There's still a lot of abuse in Home - and people wonder what's the point of reporting
EssexJames: Is there a reason why stats can't be shown of number of reports/bans etc to give us confidence that
EssexJames: Reports work
TedTheDog: That’s something we've been talking about recently. we used to publish summary stats back in the Central Station days, on PS2
Yaster: Back in the CS days, were these published on the website? or in game?
TedTheDog: On the forums Yaster
TedTheDog: I think, however, that overall it would be a step forward
TedTheDog: The grief reporting system works really rather well
Carla_Birch: Not many know about the safe menu via select.
TedTheDog: They know but didn’t think it would work
TedTheDog: Well, I'd like to see what stats are actually available
[there was some stuff here which wasn’t in the Log. Drexl said people needed context for figures, and people would be shocked by the scale of Home. It all ended up as being something they would look into.]
EssexJames: that's probably a separate issue
TedTheDog: Peoples ability to influence matters would help
on 17-06-2009 12:10 AM
EssexJames: My next question is mainly for Drexl I guess
Drexl: *puts on helmet*
EssexJames: There are may stakeholders in Home. Us, your partners, and Sony (who need a profit)
EssexJames: What weight do the interests of these stakeholders have in your decision making processes
Drexl: Wow, interesting question. What do you need, a percentage figure o what influences us the most?
EssexJames: Roughly - yes
Drexl: well, this kind of question can only ever be answered with a ballpark figure, obviously. Your perception and usage of our services necessarily guides us as a company... if we don't at least try to give you what you want, then there wouldn't be much point
EssexJames: provided our needs are profitable for you
Drexl in us carrying on! of course - but that's just the process of modern commerce
Drexl: none of us, or our competitors, are operating as a charity
Drexl: but broadly speaking we would value the customers viewpoint first, as a given
EssexJames: And is short term profit more important than long terms strategic profit made from market building
Drexl: we're building it and evolving it gradually
EssexJames: There's share growth of course, as well as P&L
Drexl: the more content and experiences we provide, the more you are likely to come back
Drexl: the more you come back, the more we can offer you and the more we can offer you will obviously affect how much money we make but I can assure you that at the moment the majority of Home revenue is driven straight back to Home development
[more missing log. This question began: Will Home ever come out……]
Gekidami: Of the beta phase ...ever?
drexl: If we call it open beta, it's simply a better way of managing both our expectations. At least in the short to medium term
[there is a large missing chunk here. Drexl said things like: it’s not something we think about when developing something. And Home would be in Beta for the foreseeable future. A comparison to GoogleMail which Drexl agreed with. There was also discussion of Web 2.0 perpetual beta – and Drexl commented that at one time, some Sony person has publically called Home Web 3.0. Upshot was – there is no timescale to bring it out of Beta. “Beta” is just a name, and it won’t change from that any day (month/year) soon.]
on 17-06-2009 12:13 AM
[The next question was about how long it typically takes from approval to implementation of a new space]
drexl: Hmmm. It depends, really or whether the space is being launched globally
Gekidami: Let’s be mad and say its from a SCEE game
drexl: Or just in certain territories
Carla_Birch: E.g. the Buzz space Gek?
Gekidami: why not
drexl: OK - if we talked to, say, the Motorstorm guys (and this is just an example) and we agreed that we'd build a new space, with a mini-game within it
drexl: Motorstorm is classified as a SCEE title we can take Buzz if you'd rather ;-)
Gekidami: Doesn’t really matter lol
drexl: Taking into account the factors I mention above and that is from concept approval
[Drexl said 4-6 months]
EssexJames: I must say, that's at the upper end of what I would have expected
drexl: Through build, commercial negotiations (if necessary), QA, testing, etc
Carla_Birch: How long before we start to see games coming out with Home spaces along side to support them?
Gekidami: Is that faster then it would have taken say a month after Home launched?
drexl: We've honed our processes a little, but it hasn't really changed that much. The same chunks of time can be attributed to QA, and localisation, and everything else, as before.
drexl: This will come down over time. We get better and better at doing things, of course
EssexJames: So what's the biggest drag? Development environment?
localisation? Core design?
drexl ALL OF IT ;-)
drexl: if a space is complex, then the art direction and design can take a loooong time, dev for the Buzz game has taken a little longer than I just specified
Carla_Birch: and is still taking time
drexl: Yes, and sorry about that
EssexJames: I guess arty types can take an age to make their mind up - but us IT people just get on with it
drexl: Just so you know, on that point, we're taking active steps to stop that Buzz situation happening again yeah you're right James.
Carla_Birch: That’s good better Q&A testing?
drexl: (didn't know you were in IT, btw) against every scenario
EssexJames: OK - shall we keep it moving?
Gekidami: well home is in beta that sort o makes us all beta testers right?
drexl: p.s we're looking at whether we should introduce "closed beta testing" again but that's just one idea on the table
EssexJames: send me an invite to THAT!
drexl: I think that goes without saying ;-)
TedTheDog: Don’t worry James
Carla_Birch: That be handy
EssexJames: I think Carla has the next questions
drexl: And that includes you too, Gek and Carla ;-)
Carla_Birch: as there is another bad area right now
Gekidami: :o nice
Carla_Birch: ok my turn then
Gekidami: and a reaper costume our way would be good to eh ted
on 17-06-2009 12:16 AM
Carla_Birch: In the EU we didn't upgrade our Home Square engine like the US did. This means we have continued memory problems and the inability to leverage work done by the US team in this space...
TedTheDog: Home Squarewould need a redesign to free up memory to cater for...
TedTheDog: These dynamic features you're referring too
Carla_Birch: my fish
TedTheDog: We have started that process but, referring to the previous answer its likely to take some time but the goal is to do what, I believe, you want Home square to provide]]
Carla_Birch: Home Square is the main meeting point in Home so more group interactive items the better
EssexJames: Presumably it'll mean we (you) could nick stuff more easily from the US though
drexl: [nicking stuff from the US isn't really our strategy ;-)
Carla_Birch: 'borrow' it then
drexl: We want to coordinate as much as possible on global content releases and yesterday, [TED’s REAL NAME DELETED] and I saw the initial concept art for the new Home Square there's a scoop for you [TED’s REAL NAME DELETED] = Ted, btw
drexl: But I can't say much more than that at this point.
Carla_Birch: that cats out the bag now
Gekidami: you better censor that out
drexl: No, you can keep that in
EssexJames: Leave it to Ted to announce rather than me, he needs the Kudos
drexl: we're not giving anything else away ;-)
TedTheDog: Its not like a Google search cant find me
Carla_Birch: hehe Sony job listing page
Yaster: Or a game manual with the credits in
Carla_Birch: KZ2 yaster
Yaster: speaking of which I haven’t been featured in any yet
drexl: Sorry - did I say [TED’S REAL NAME DELETED]? I meant Steve - how silly of me
drexl:isn't that right, "Steve"
Carla_Birch: Anyway lets move on we going a bit of topic
drexl: nice to meet you
EssexJames: My real name’s Marjory btw
drexl: you've had a hard life, clearly ;-)
Carla_Birch: back to James now
drexl: We appear to have gone off-topic - sorry, my fault
EssexJames: So in summary - there'll be a Home Sq upgrade!!!
on 17-06-2009 12:18 AM
EssexJames:- The next question. Can you give us the estimated SPM?
EssexJames:- SPM = spaces per month
drexl: Hmm. Nice acronym.
Carla_Birch: like US have done with there 3 spaces a month.
EssexJames: how ,much is in the pipeline
Drexl: There is a lot in the pipeline
EssexJames: more precision would be good
drexl: I have a list in front of me of 17 spaces I want to get live
EssexJames: By when?
Drexl: Well, this is it, good question. You guys know we have a smaller team here, right?
drexl: Well, we've just added to that this week by hiring a new Associate Producer which is great news. So we have two full-time Producers in SCEE now, plus the two who work across at HPG, they're working on a content schedule now, and my aim is to get this locked down within two weeks.
Carla_Birch: Mike & Martijn
drexl: and then I would expect Ted can start giving you a few more pointers as to what you can expect and when
Carla_Birch: Home prod group
drexl: Home Platform Group, Carla, as you well know ;-)
EssexJames: "Producers" sounds like more chiefs. Isn't it more coders/developers that you need?
drexl: Let me preface this by saying that we're still not quite at the point where the US and us get things at exactly the same time so there will be a couple of occasions coming up in the near future.
Carla_Birch: No James one the Producers from HPG was the person that made the Red Bull Space.
drexl: When you will see them get stuff that we don't, at the same time however, there are also a couple of things that you will get, that they won't. It's a delicate balancing act, but we're moving in the right direction
EssexJames: We're getting into my next question, so I might as well table it now.....
on 17-06-2009 12:20 AM
[Missing from Log: It seems that the SCEE Home development team is one of the smaller teams. Yet the messages we receive about intra-regional localisation indicate that SCEE has the toughest job to do. Smallest Team: Biggest Job – what should SCEE users make of this anomaly and are there plans to correct it?]
drexl: Ok this is difficult for me, as to answer it completely openly would mean I need to speak for other regions. I am not going to try and avoid this but you understand my position
EssexJames: I'm looking for increases in SCEE, not decreases elsewhere
drexl: I know you're not, and I wasn't insinuating that and in the meantime, I am collecting as much data as I can to take to my senior management team about why I feel I need more people it's all about how we do business, in different regions
EssexJames: taking you up to what? 19?
drexl: heehee no, not 19 and I don't know where you got that figure from
EssexJames: There are forum rumours and miscalculations!
drexl: it's to do with how each Region is split up, from a commercial perspective to commercial. We all have different targets, and how these targets are accounted for and measured contribute how we manage our resourcing levels essentially, the more success we continue to enjoy, the more people we will have to get I am building case studies and business models it's just the way it works here sometimes
EssexJames: I guess it boils down to this: Is there an unacceptable gap- and can it be addressed?
drexl: we're a tight ship, and in this climate every penny has to be justified once again, it's simply the perils of global business I don't believe the gap is unacceptable, and yes it is being addressed
EssexJames: that's good to hear
Drexl: You'll see over summer, with the new spaces we release
EssexJames; I'll move on
drexl; my team may be small, but I can assure you they are passionate, committed and very talented and they take your opinions VERY seriously
Carla_Birch: Better to have 5 great people then 10 ok people
drexl: ****** it*
on 17-06-2009 12:23 AM
EssexJames: You said that Home is moving towards being solely a gaming platform..
EssexJames: And away from the social networking aspect
Drexl: I dont recall saying we were moving away from the social networking aspect...
EssexJames: in light of MS's E3 annoucement of tying XBOX (swearing again) to Facebook and Twitter will you be rethinking this?
Carla_Birch: A twitter home cafe FTW
drexl: Well firstly, we've never dismissed Home's value as a social/networking/interaction tool it's just that we had to give it a primary focus, when were refocusing before OB it's clear now that the getting together with friends, chatting and hanging out parts of Home more important than ever and yes - integration with social media is imperative, and we're looking into it
Carla_Birch: [so a twitter home cafe
drexl: Actually, we already have a prototype of a Facebook app
Gekidami: [*using facebook?
drexl: but you're right James - important that we integrate - but only if it can be in a useful way and that really gives you something useful and different, that you actually want to use regularly
EssexJames: I think it's more strategic than that.
Carla_Birch: e.g. facebook status updates on your home menu pad?
EssexJames: Brings us back to the Web 2.0/3.0 thing
Gekidami: But there might be some sort of tie-in with the big name social sites?
Carla_Birch: Moshii wants twitter updates on her home menu pad
Drexl: To use a horrible phrase, to "leverage" the power of those sites, and the reach they have
drexl: To embellish and add to your Home experience there's an obvious role for PSP to play there, too but that really is a long -term thing at the moment, that I'm looking at
EssexJames: We've two questions left - and we're on track for time
Gekidami: Have any deals actually been made with the likes of face book or twitter
drexl: No, we haven't - and you don't really need to, tbh
EssexJames: Carla....over to you
Gekidami: ok then
on 17-06-2009 12:26 AM
Carla_Birch: Accessibility next, Home contains a lot of reds, greens & browns which cam make things tricky...
Carla_Birch: For colour-blind users e.g. helicopter hit
Moshii: Sorry guys, I'm heading off, but have a good QA! )
EssexJames: Thanks Moshii
drexl: Bye Moshii!
Carla_Birch: Can this be borne in mind and what other types of accessibitiy
Yaster: she’s gone, but I'll pass that on
Carla_Birch: Considerations do you currently consider?
drexl: Interesting question Carla
Carla_Birch: [I'm colour blind btw
drexl: Yeah, I am too actually
Carla_Birch: The fireflies part
drexl: Home is different to a conventional website, for example where we have to (and want to) comply with accessibility guidelines, but at the moment, we classify Home as a game in that respect so we don't necessarily treat it in the same way it's a good question, and one that we probably should pay more heed to. Tell you what - can I ask that question of the design team, and get their take? And then let you know?
Carla_Birch: Little things like don't use the same design can really help make things stand out
Carla_Birch: Yep sure Dan
EssexJames: I love the random movements here -at the end of your last answer drexl you folded your arms all defensively! Lol...
drexl: it wasn't deliberate, I Can assure you! Sorry!
drexl: Yep, fair comment do you like the changes to the text dialogue box, did that help at all?
Carla_Birch: Yes apart from i can never make the red text out
drexl: ok, point taken Carla
Carla_Birch: Eg alize name now
Carla_Birch: on a brown background
drexl: I'll speak to the designers and come back to you next week (or Ted will)
Gekidami: i'm not colour blind and even i'm having trouble seeing alize's name clearly lol
EssexJames: last question........................................
on 17-06-2009 12:28 AM
EssexJames: What are the prospects for getting some interactive things for our personal spaces?
drexl: Only for your personal spaces, James, or just more interactive things generally?
Carla_Birch: Clubs and personal spaces would be nice
drexl: the reason I ask is because (and I can't give too much away)
Carla_Birch: would save waiting in bowls
EssexJames: personal spaces. Without stuff there - they're pretty uninteresting
drexl: the next client release will have more things to play around with, with other people
Carla_Birch: how far a away is that
drexl: have we mentioned before about the apartment with a bowling alley in it?
Carla_Birch: back in about 2007
drexl: that's one idea
EssexJames: but you've said it now so you can't go backon it
drexl: yeah, I thought it was about then
Carla_Birch: Summer house image shows pool table also
drexl: we're looking at building a load of extra stuff you can do, and in your apartment
Gekidami: To be fair a lot was mentioned in 2007 :s
drexl: But a lot of it is quite a way away I don't want to get your hopes up too much at this stage, to be honest
Carla_Birch: The communities view is stuff like pool tables are made, how come we not able to buy them?
drexl: Yes - Carla - this has been raised before, Ted and I have spoken to the Dev team about this it's on our radar
Carla_Birch: Outer of mid of it
drexl: Or being able to give it away for free it sounds odd, but enabling the types of stuff you're talking about is more difficult than you might think
Carla_Birch: I guess right now there hard coded in to the spaces
drexl: Correct, we're working on ways of making everything in Home more "mobile"
EssexJames: booo to hard coding"!
drexl: so doing it through scripting, instead
Carla_Birch: so recoding is needed for us to be able to move and place within personal spaces
drexl: Something more agile and versatile so we can chop and change. Ted can chase this particular issue up for you, if that would help
EssexJames: There's no such thing as too much communication
Carla_Birch: e.g. swap layouts of bowls for say a pool event?
TedTheDog: I will. I'll talk to the dev team about some items tournament options, as people will be able to rely on getting a table
EssexJames: we can start to use them as clubs then - rather than just meeting spaces
Carla_Birch: Being as we’re English, how come we don't have darts like in Japan?
EssexJames: or boules for the French?
Carla_Birch: yep sorry Gek
drexl: it's a long way off, but I'm commissioning a "proper" darts game at the moment
EssexJames: super smashing great
drexl: more than likely a quiz-based darts hybrid
Gekidami: good news
Carla_Birch: I’m sure that will make lots on the forums happy
drexl: but it's a way off yet
on 17-06-2009 12:30 AM
AOB and Close
drexl: I’d like to ask you your views on what we should do with Xi now it’s coming to an end. We’ve been discussing it this week. The issue is that it’s meant to be a time-dependent game with a beginning, middle and end. We’re not sure how it would stand up without that. [this was missing from the log provided so I referred to my notes – it’s not verbatim]
EssexJames: if it's a choice between keep it or delete it., I'd keep it
drexl: OK - feedback noted
Carla_Birch: and me
Carla_Birch: more games within it for people
EssexJames: Shall we touch on comms?
Carla_Birch: and new users can take part
drexl: sure James
EssexJames: there's been a heck of a lot of useful stuff today
drexl: Carla - again - feedback noted, glad you enjoyed it
EssexJames: how soon will I get a log?
Carla_Birch: It will be Alize looking after that as he was doing the recording
Carla_Birch: Good good Ted, nice and fast action on the matter there Ted
I mean Fred [it’s not “Fred” – Carla was joking]
EssexJames: I'll message you my email address Ted
drexl: probably the best way
EssexJames: any more? I see Dan just looked at his watch!
Carla_Birch: If he finds in within all the ones he likely gets hehe
Gekidami: more questions?
drexl: ****** these automatic movements*
Carla_Birch: you all sit so upright
TedTheDog: Back again. Dev team well aware of the potential for games in your apartments. Nothing I can add to that yet
EssexJames: No more questions - any more do be done before we head off for the weekend?
Carla_Birch: You need to be more like me
Gekidami: if it’s possible
Carla_Birch: Can we have a running man line? The community asked for it
drexl: let's do it
[And they danced and danced the night away]!
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