CVG visited Sony earlier this week to get an early hands-on look at WipEout Pulse, the second game of the series on PSP, and you can read out preview of that here.
Pleased with what we saw, we sat down with SCEE game director Tony Buckley to discuss the impressive online features in Pulse, the future of the WipEout series, and all things PlayStation.
Buckley had plenty of interesting stuff to say about Sony's online plan going into the future, and what needs to be done to give the PSP the boost it may need in light of it not selling as well as had been expected in recent months.
WipEout looks and play very well, but it seems the focus with this sequel is in online integration. Is that how you envisaged the project?
Tony Buckley: I'm glad that's come across. Some feel you should always look to re-invent a game, and we're dead against that. We feel like we've got a winning formula and as long as we can invigorate it we can please the solid install base of WipEout fans. We've got to cater to them first. We want people to share their experiences, so we've given them the tools to do that.
You can log on find out everything about other player's performance, so players will able to log in a see what the most popular ship in the world is, see how good they are compared to others.
Does this represent increased focus in online gaming within Sony games, particularly on PSP?
Buckley: Yes. There's been no public announcement of trying to get a more global focus on the PlayStation family but it's obvious that that;s what they want to do. I don't want to give too much away but whether players have a PS3, PSP or PS2 we need them to be able to access all the cool things via one format. The PSN has proved to be a nice opening gambit in terms of an online experience but we don't want to restrict that experience to people with PS3s.
Comparisons are obviously drawn between the PSN and Xbox Live, the latter of which has come along loads in its years. The PSN is new but how do you see that developing in coming years? Do you see it expanding beyond what it is now?
Buckley: From a personal view, it [expansion] is a must. The internet is a global phenomenon. We need to allow people to do a lot more things online now. Broadband internet makes streaming and sharing content so easy, and we've got to make use of that. But we've got to approach it in a way so that if you want to do something online through a PlayStation, it's got to be a common thing across all platforms. That's what we're striving for and the PSN is just the start of it.
The relative success of it early doors shows that people are finding it highly usable, and the content and functionality will grow.
So how would you like to exploit PSN in the future?
Buckley: I see PSN as a different name for online and community. We want to create a place where people can go to download and learn anything and everything about WipEout and PSN is the perfect place for that.
We're launching with WipEout Pulse in September, and we have to make our own online functionality. Our website is PC-based initially, but we will intergrate all the online things we do with PSN when the functionality comes so it's going to be really important to us, not just for online play but also for creating a buzz about WipEout in general, and keeping any title that's released in people's focus.