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Jun 26 2013
By: MistyRainne Splicer 22 posts
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Suggested approach for PS4 transition

23 replies 434 views Edited Jun 26, 2013

I was idly contemplating this a little while back, and considered a few approaches, but on considering the pros and cons of each, I’ve settled on one in particular that I’d like to recommend, in case it’s not too late to do so.

 

First of all, design goals / desireable qualities:

 

  • Home should be available on both PS3 and PS4, and remain so.
  • PS3 and PS4 users should be able to interact with each other in the same spaces. One Home, indivisible, with fam-spam and Crappy Promotional Items for all!
  • PS3 users should not be “thrown under the bus”, left behind or locked out of new content. Many of us have made a great deal of investment – in money and otherwise – in Home as it exists. Respect that, and we (and our money) will respect you.
  • PS3 users should be able to transition to PS4 and pick up where they left off, not losing investments already made. (This makes it easier for them to do so, which you want them to do, right?)
  • PS4 users, meanwhile, should have higher-quality visual content suiting their (mostly-)more-powerful console.
  • On the other side of things, it should place as little extra burden as possible on content developers and server administrators. They’re the ones tasked with making this happen, after all.

 

I considered a few different approaches. Some ones I’ve rejected:

 

  • Having a completely independent Home for PS4. This allows it to be built (and redesigned) specifically for the PS4; but this cuts off PS3 and PS4 users from each other (“I’d go to PS4 but all my friends are still on PS3” or “Nah, she’s not around anymore, she went to PS4” or “She’s still on PS3”), and threatens to leave PS3 users (and their investments) behind as developers shift focus to PS4, and burdens developers with making content for both (increasing workload) if they want to tap into both markets, and perhaps most importantly, existing PS3 users will have to start from scratch in PS4 Home if/when they make the transition. (A problem that’s proportional to how much they’ve already invested, meaning that you’d effectively be punishing them for investing. Not a smart business move!)
  • Having PS4-specific spaces that allow for PS4-specific content, while normal/PS3 spaces are limited to what the PS3 can do. This cuts off PS3 and PS4 users from each other (although not as severely), increases developer workload, and threatens to leave PS3 users (and their investments) behind.
  • Simply making a PS4 client for Home that uses all the same content. This will work fine at first, but limits PS4 users to PS3-level content. That problem will have to be addressed sooner or later, especially as time goes by and people migrate to PS4.
  • Simply forgoing the PS4 altogether: Home being PS3 only. This will still leave PS3 users (and their past investments, and future investments) behind as emphasis shifts to the PS4. If Home is profitable on the PS3, it will be profitable on the PS4 (moreso if the PS4 holds the dominant position in the console market the way the PS3 should have). Keep that in mind.

One approach I considered, initially it was an afterthought that stood progressively taller in my mind as I thought about its implications, its pros and cons. It was inspired, in part, by the division of vehicles in Gran Turismo 5 into “Standard” (PS2-level, imported from GT4) and “Premium” (PS3-level, GT5-native) categories.

 


 

Basically: every item (clothing item, furniture item, perhaps even spaces themselves, and so on) has “standard-quality” (SQ) and “high-quality” (HQ) versions – visually speaking (more-detailed geometry, sharper textures, graphical effects, and so on). The difference is similar to how LOD (Level Of Detail) works: basically, the PS4 client has access to an even-higher LOD than the PS3 client.

 

When their client downloads/renders some clothing item (or whatever), the PS4 client will use its HQ version if it exists, SQ otherwise; PS3 users will always see the SQ version. (It’s the same item either way: it simply has more than one embodiment.) One useful implication of this is that PS4 users will have access to all existing content right away (it’ll all simply be SQ at first), helping the PS4 version hit the ground running by leveraging the existing vast library of PS3 content. Simply put, this will make the PS4 version backward-compatible.

 

PS3 and PS4 users will access the same Home and can interact with each other, but PS4 users will see the same thing in higher quality: detailed geometry, sharper textures, less-aggressive LODing, 1080p, consistent edge-smoothing, faster load times, and so on.

 

This does not mean that all new items must have two individually-crafted versions. Existing SQ content can be used as-is on PS4. New content can be made in SQ too, where that suffices. For new content in HQ, the SQ versions could be automatically converted from the HQ versions, similarly to how LOD works already. (Again, think of HQ as a higher-level LOD that’s only used for the PS4 client.) Developers could hand-craft the corresponding SQ versions (or auto-convert to SQ then hand-tweak it), but this isn’t required.

Thus, this places no required extra burden on content developers, even when they make the transition to developing HQ content.

 

Advantages to all this:

  • PS4 users have access to all existing, PS3-centric content right away. No need to start from scratch.
  • PS3 users who migrate to PS4 can pick up where they left off.
  • PS3 and PS4 users can live side by side and interact with each other.
  • No required extra effort from developers in order to support this approach.
  • PS4 users aren’t limited to what the PS3 can do, where HQ content exists.
  • Content development can transition smoothly from PS3-centric to PS4-centric as users migrate.
  • PS3 users won’t get left behind even well into the PS4’s lifetime. We’ll still buy things!
  • The same principle can even apply a decade hence, with PS5 users seeing “super HQ” content alongside PS3 SQ and PS4 HQ content.
  • In principle, it could even apply the other way: automatically downconverted LQ content for a PS Vita version of Home?

Nothing is free, but the requirements to make it happen are likewise fairly light:

 

  • A separate Home client program for PS4, most likely ported/adapted from the PS3 client. This is a one-time initial effort, and it can probably share a lot of code with the current, PS3 client; and if done well, both clients could be compiled from the same source! (Hey Sony, remember when you supported Linux? OSS developers handle this sort of thing routinely. Ask them how they do it!)
  • Server item databases will need to flag content with “SQ”, “HQ” or “both”. The server program detects whether the requesting client is PS3 or PS4 and sends out the appropriate version. (If the SQ version is automatically converted from HQ, then the server might not even need to store the SQ version itself: send out the HQ version to the PS3 client and let the client (suitably upgraded) perform the conversion itself, and cache/use the result as though it were SQ to begin with. This shifts the responsibility for this from server-side to client-side.) — Or for that matter, if existing LOD data is already dealt with in a single package for a given item, then you can simply add HQ-level data to that. (The PS3 client can simply discard the HQ level data when cacheing, so as not to waste space; the PS4 client can use the SQ data as the next level of LOD below maximum.) In this case, this imposes no extra bookkeeping burden on the servers!

So, I think this approach is simple, elegant and hits all the right notes: it serves the interests of users (PS3 and PS4 users alike), content developers, and Sony.

 

There are still some matters left to address, though, some of which can be taken in stride by the above approach, but not all:

 

  • What about content that can’t simply be downconverted? For example, suppose Home were originally on the PS2, then new PS3 HQ content makes use of bump-mapping or some other graphical thing that’s impossible or impractical on the PS2. What then? Perhaps SQ and HQ versions, where necessary, can have separate shader scripts to help it degrade gracefully: for example, replacing true reflections (HQ) with environment-mapping (SQ). Not as good, but better than nothing.
  • A big potential problem in PS3/PS4 cross-compatibility is any code that runs client-side, such as with Activities, Active furniture items, Inventory items, and so forth. (I’ll refer to this as “Active code”.) — Now, if the PS3 Home developers had the foresight to run Active code in a VM configuration, then that will help tremendously: you basically just have to port the VM to run on PS4 architecture, same as with the Home client in general. — Failing that, perhaps the PS4 client can leverage its power to emulate or translate PS3-native Active code. Perhaps use a sophisticated server-side conversion and store the results, and handle it alongside (or in a way analogous to) SQ/HQ handling. I’m assuming that straight-up emulation isn’t feasable, because, technically, the PS4’s CPU is less powerful than the PS3’s, and has a very different architecture too. — This all assuming that the content developers are lazy or stingy and don’t want to bother recompiling their years-old Active code against a new library (or something) to let it work PS4-natively, or that contract/licensing terms don’t allow for this, or whatever other excuses there are.
  • What about things that use the PS4’s extra resources in ways you simply can’t do on the PS3? For example, a PS4 Home client may be able to handle 256 people in a space, rather than merely 32. (Quantity over quality?) Or an ambitious project like Mercia: Fractured Realms may need to go beyond what the PS3 can do. This may ultimately require the use of PS4-only spaces. Hopefully, this will be used sparingly – not as a default target for new general-purpose content – and only later on into the PS4’s lifetime, so as not to cut off PS3 users from new content. But the reality is that this may need to happen eventually.

So, those are my thoughts. Hopefully I’ll catch the ear of someone who has the wherewithal to put that into motion – or to explain why their idea is even better for all parties involved.

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Fender Bender
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Re: Suggested approach for PS4 transition

[ Edited ]
Jun 26, 2013

I like your ideas, any programmer worth his/ her salt should make the effort to convert, even if it is just to keep their user base intact. some of us will leave if home is no longer here. I would hate to leave, but I have left games before. There is an online game I don't touch anymore because of the business practices of the games owners( The guy credited with the game creation is an ex-convict internet scammer who still changes the name of his company every few years, if not the name of the game, though he has changed that several times as well. He is not involved with Sony or any other big name company by the way).


Thanks Asuka424 for the Signature
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Fender Bender
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Re: Suggested approach for PS4 transition

Jun 26, 2013

I read some of this and came to the conclusion that you are too intelligent for this forum.

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Treasure Hunter
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Re: Suggested approach for PS4 transition

Jun 26, 2013

At first Home should be on Both PS3 and PS4 so people have time to get a PS4 and move over with Home completely on the new gen console.

 

But Home should be on PS3 as long as there making PS3's yet.  But i say that will only be two years tops when they stop making PS3's completely...  But that would be fine because hopefully most of us could get a PS4 by then and continue our Home use on PS4.

 

It would all depend on PS4 sales as to how quickly Production would stop on the PS3. But Soon as PS4 is out... The game company's will say were moving onto PS4 games only... So when that happens PS3 will end sooner due to them only doing PS4 games. Again ending PS3 Production is two years most likely less...

 

But as long as HOME is on Both PS3 for now and also on PS4 i'll be one Happy Camper!

 

As of right now i have no Plans to get a PS4 at Release... Why? one we don't know about HOME yet on PS4 and right now there are Zero games coming out for PS4 i would even buy... Making it useless to have a PS4 at Launch for me... But.... If PS Home is on PS4 at Launch... Well now that's a different story why?    Because i could then buy a PS4 at Launch and play PS Home on PS4 till NEw games come out for PS4 i would play.... So for me PS4 would be my Goto player for PS Home till my type of Games hit PS4.  Giving me reason to buy a PS4 even. 

 

Otherwise as it is now... I have no use yet for PS4... Unless Home is on it!

 

 

SHAME on SONY for making us HOMEless by Closing our PS HOME!
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Treasure Hunter
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Re: Suggested approach for PS4 transition

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Jun 26, 2013

Let Home die on the PS3 there is no point in bringing something so outdated to the PS4.  Let's make something bigger and better for the PS4.  You guys think way to small there is a reason Sony has not said a word about Home on the PS4.

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Splicer
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Re: Suggested approach for PS4 transition

Jun 26, 2013

AbysmalDawna wrote:

I read some of this and came to the conclusion that you are too intelligent for this forum.


No such thing as “too intelligent”. Woman Very Happy

 


DCS-Tekken wrote:

But i say that will only be two years tops when they stop making PS3's completely...


Actually, Sony kept on making PS2s till just a few months ago. Even if they do suddenly stop manufacturing new PS3s, existing PS3s will still be around and should still be able to get on Home (and PSN in general).

 

And I don’t know either whether I’ll migrate to PS4; and if I do, it’ll probably be at least a couple years or so. I didn’t get a PS3 till just last year. Now I’m finally caught up on all this stuff I’d been hearing about~! And then they drop the PS4 bomb. I can’t be the only one concerned that we PS3 players will get left behind even after supporting the PS name during its darkest hour; hence all the emphasis in my post about ensuring PS3 support for Home even well into the PS4 era. The PS3 will shift from primary to secondary as the years pass, but that’s okay.

 


King0fHearts2007 wrote:

there is no point in bringing something so outdated to the PS4


If you don’t like Home – “outdated” as it already is – then why are you reading this section of the Forum?

 

And there is a point. It’s still a good thing; for me, it’s even been life-changing in ways you probably don’t want to understand. Many people have made many investments into Home, monetary investments and emotional investments alike. Sony has encouraged this and accepted money for it (despite keeping up the pretense that Home is still in beta), so it would be unwise – even unethical – for them not to respect and honor that.

 

If you’re worried that it’ll draw resources away from some even-better alternative: well, like I said, my post outlines a way that takes relatively little effort on their part. (How much developer and server effort does your idea call for?) Even if no one creates HQ content for PS4 Home users, just having Home available on the PS4 will do a lot of good and create a lot of goodwill. (And will introduce it to Xbox refugees who take up the PS4, thereby increasing the Home userbase and thus make it even more fertile ground for developers to sow their seeds in. They can’t be any worse than all the Generic Fam Guys around...) And it makes the path from PS3 to PS4 easier to walk without leaving Home. If you are any “King of Hearts”, you would respect that.

 

Suppose they do go and make something “bigger and better” than Home, as a separate thing from Home; perhaps it can even be a source of competition (it looks like the PS4 won’t be having a lot of that), and if it really is superior in practice, then that will be proven over time by more people choosing it over Home. (Though it will split the userbase, cut people off from each other; a path not to walk lightly.) And if it really is better, then that may be all the more reason for me to get a PS4 sooner; and if Home is available on PS4, then it’s less risky for me to take that step.

 

But that’s a different topic. If you have ideas for something better – that Home couldn’t be upgraded toward over time – then go start a new thread about it.

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Fender Bender
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Re: Suggested approach for PS4 transition

Jun 26, 2013

Wow! That was something Smiley Wink

 

In theory, I agree with all of it. In an ideal world, that's what should happen.

Unfortunatly we don't live in an ideal world but a business one.

 

We have to keep in mind that Home was already a bit outdated when it first came on. The original architechture was created for the PS2. There is only so much you can do with such an old app. I'm no programmer but one thing for sure. You can't have something taking full advantage of the PS4 running smoothly on the PS3.

 

All the things we keep complaining about. Wardrobe, LMO's/companion channel, Disconnections...  The best and only good solution is to create a new, better, bigger PsHome. Taking full advantandge of the PS4. Don't get me wrong. I would love to keep my stuff and see Home becoming a never ending story. I just don't see it hapenning.

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Real freedom is the power to say yes.


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Wastelander
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Re: Suggested approach for PS4 transition

Jun 26, 2013

Those are nice ideas, although personally I think that it will be the exact same Home that you will have access to with your PS4, with exactly the same Home errors, network errors, freezes, loading times, limited customizations, graphics, spaces, Avies, and everything. Woman LOL

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Survivor
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Re: Suggested approach for PS4 transition

[ Edited ]
Jun 26, 2013

just wanted to mention a few factors to add to this.

 

First, there is the size of Home's population. Sony claims milions. But from devs I've heard it's more like 20,000. But it seems users who use home tend to spend a good amount.  A friend of mine called us a "whale community".  But you would have to consider how much will sony be willing to spend for developing a new client program for PS4 for 20,000 users.

 

Also, the PS4 processor is vastly different than PS3. Totally different system. Putting on Home wouldn't be like putting it on a different type of PS3 but more like putting it on a PC or Mac. The PS4 really is different at its core.

 

The cheapest solution for Sony would be to NOT make a PS4 client for Home. But instead to use that Cloud gaming on PS4 to support running Home on a PS4 system. Technically you are using the PS4 just to access a PS3 running Home over at Sony's server. That would require no extra labor to make that work (provided that got Cloud gaming working right).

 

Now it is possible to make a PS4 client. But you have to figure where Sony expects to get the money for that. I'm worried because Sony's support of Home as is has been very sparse on funding new core developements. I don't see a huge amount of money spent on hiring mods or paying for large bandwidths to relieve our lag. And I don't see much money spend on improvements.  

 

Please keep in mind, I'm not trying to argue against your idea. But I do have worries (much like everyone here).

 

BTW, if I were Sony, my idea would be pretty radical. I figure as long as I'm spending money on a new client for a entirely new system then HELL, why not make it multiplatform? That way each item sold sells across multiple platforms. You pay once to create a table, and clone it on multiple platforms at little cost but you multiply your profits.  The Xboxone is basically the same hardware as the PS4. Wouldn't cost that much to make Home run on that too. XB1 hardware is almost identical to PS4, much closer  than a PS3. And why stop there? Make it run on PC too! That's where alot of online communities are. We would be a great alternative in a cyberworld full of facebook and twitter.  Because what Sony wants is MONEY! LOL. And once they develop a multiplatform client, each outfit created would sell on PS4, and and then clone the data and sell on Xbox1 and on PC and Mac. And maybe tablets too when they become fast enough. You would only have to create a avatar costume once and you can sell it on multiple Homes on multiple systems.

 

That's where some real money is. 

 

Smiley Happy

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Fender Bender
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Re: Suggested approach for PS4 transition

Jun 26, 2013
if home is going to stay the way it is on the ps3 when its ported, then i see no point in bring it over. the hole thing needs a complete overhaul. there's way to many issues going now that probably can't be fixed without this overhaul. lets just hope this is the case. Smiley Frustrated
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