by NorseGamer, HSM Editor-in-Chief
Ah, the rush to create new locomotion items for PlayStation Home.
I love a new market segment. Home’s been pulling doves out of its hat for five years, bending and stretching like Dhalsim performing the Lambada, performing tricks that no one thought was within its ability to achieve. And just when you think Home’s reached its technological limit, a new core update arrives. With Home 1.7, developers can do more than pull doves out of a hat — they can pull out alligators.
The ability to purchase downloadable dance moves is something that’s been requested since roughly the Punic Wars. As is the ability to move at a faster rate of speed, or in a different fashion than the standard jogging-underwater trudge that avatars come prepackaged with. Home 1.7 made both possible, and developers have wasted no time taking advantage of them.
Let’s look at locomotion as a new market segment. The obvious restriction is that you can’t alter your altitude in a public space, and for obvious reason: those public spaces aren’t engineered to handle that, and there are places where you’d be able to see off the end of the map. What, you thought they straightjacketed you on Pier Park’s Ferris Wheel just for kicks?
Speed, as well, is a secondary selling point. Home 1.7 allows locomotion items to boost an avatar’s speed up to 50% above what is normally permitted. Except that it doesn’t work in mini-games and there’s no reason to create a locomotion that goes slower than 150%. So what you’re actually buying is simply a new method of looking cool.
(This, by the way, is why I agree with James May that automakers need to cut it out with the horsepower wars in a mad rush for top speed. The Bugatti Veyron makes such a pursuit meaningless. Focus instead on cars that can accelerate quickly within the velocity range where it’s most needed.)
On this front, a few developers are off to a great start. nDreams capitalized quickly with their first set of locomotion items — and I’ll admit it’s rather fun to zoom around Home like a Vedic flyer — and Hellfire’s own Speedwings were very smart in capitalizing on the wings fashion trend in Home. Because, after all, nothing shouts emo like wings, and people will spend a lot of money to look that way.
Juggernaut’s hoverdiscs are a clever way of entering the field. I mean, who doesn’t want a hoverboard? Unless there is something legitimately wrong with you, you will recognize the phrase, “McFly hoverboard” and instantly understand why Juggernaut’s latest commodity is awesome. Now, granted, this is a hoverdisc and not a hoverboard, but hey, discs are in right now. Cue the Daft Punk soundrack.
Here’s where it gets snarky, though: if you buy the whole bundle, you get a special “Nyan” disc. Oh, somebody’s having some tongue-in-cheek fun. And I think it’s Jason Copeland. Between this and the recent Essence of the Seven Winds “flying” mo-cap, somebody needs to chain that guy to his desk.
For the two people on the planet who don’t understand why a disc shooting rainbows out the back is so funny, please Google “Nyan Cat” at this time. Go ahead. We’ll wait. While we’re waiting, how about a soothing, cerebral Star Trek interlude?
Right, now that you’ve done some research on Nyan Cat, we can proceed.
What makes this move so clever is that it’s memorable. Home really has gotten to the point where there’s so much stuff in it that you really have to do something different in order to stand out. And something as simple as a Nyan-bomb or some other such non-sequitur can go a long way towards achieving this goal.
The downside, of course, is that no one else can see you shooting rainbows as you streak around Home, nor is there the music to go with it. Home still has plenty of limitations, after all. But that’s not the point. The point is that developers are thinking about how to make their products well and truly stand out now — something which Juggernaut has a good track record with already — and also how to deliver various flourishes that get people talking. Further, owning these hoverdiscs unlocks a little somethin-somethin’ in MiniBots, whose Training Facility game also received a minor update.
Here’s the question that’s emerging, and it’s only going to intensify: what’s the coolest way to get around in Home? Sprinting? Flying? Hoverboarding? Something else? This is a brand-new market segment, and the competition’s only going to get stronger.
Juggernaut’s off to a good start, though.