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 They Came In Peace – And With Chips: An Interview With Locust_Star

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Jersquall
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PostSubject: They Came In Peace – And With Chips: An Interview With Locust_Star    Thu Aug 25, 2011 6:00 am

They Came In Peace – And With Chips: An Interview With Locust_Star About Ooblag’s Alien Casino


By Jersquall, HSM Podcast Editor




Games. Games, games, games.

It seems like such an obvious point, right? Home is a virtual reality built into a game console. Home is populated by gamers. Thus, it stands to reason that Home should offer as many different gaming experiences as possible in order to attract those console gamers and get them to stick around.


And the real magic is when you can offer games and social interactivity hand-in-hand. Home’s architecture doesn’t yet allow for pure gaming experiences that can rival top-notch gaming titles – but those same gaming titles can’t really offer the same sort of social connectivity (and the revenue generation potential inherent therein) that Home offers.

Home has already proven itself successful when it can offer a blend of the two. Hudson and Electronic Arts, among others, have successfully done so in Home. Yet neither of them have ever offered anything quite like this:



Ooblag’s Alien Casino.


To get a better understanding of this new space and all it has to offer, I sat down with Home Community Manager Locust_Star to get the inside story on Ooblag, Raaksu, and why gaming is the universal language.


Jersquall HSM: Locust_Star, What IS Ooblag's Alien Casino

Locust_Star: Ooblag’s Alien Casino is a game space developed exclusively for SCEA PlayStation Home. Set in deep space, OAC is a highly-immersive extraterrestrial environment that includes a host of highly-stylized multiplayer games of craps, overseen by Raaksu, Ooblag’s ruthless pit boss.





How did the Alien Casino come to be? Who's idea was it?





The concept of OAC was collaboration between the SCEA PlayStation Home Community team and a creative agency, which has worked on a variety of Home projects that you all have come to know and love. Once we hammered out the concept, GlassWalls and I began to work with a developer to design the game and develop the space, assuming the roles of Executive Producers. Throughout the process we also worked with Hatchback to create marketing materials (videos, images, etc) that matched the game and took into account any/all changes that were made throughout the development process. The entire project, end-to-end, was managed by the Community team with the goal being to provide our users with a fun experience, which I think we have delivered (and then some).





Was this a pet project of yours?





In a way – yes. While Community Management, historically, has not been responsible for game development, over the course of the last year or so my team has gotten even more hands-on in the content creation process – we produced the virtual E3 booth, for example, and were responsible for bringing Winter Wonderland to SCEA last year. So, in that sense, we were just doing our jobs. That said, we spent a lot of time tweaking the game and the space so it oftentimes felt as if it were a pet project.





This is 100% free to play, correct? Nothing to buy?





The game is 100% free-to-play. Beyond that, the game space includes an active item reward which is an exact replica of the OAC craps game that all players can place in the personal space(s) of their choosing. This, too, is completely free and available for the entire community to enjoy.





Why is this a free to play game? Does the Home team love us that much?





That’s pretty much it: we really do love you all that much!





What kind of game is featured in the Casino?





The game is a highly-stylized multiplayer game of craps, a popular real-world casino game that has never before been ported to Home (or PSN for that matter).





Is this a space that will be around a long time?





The plan is to keep the space live for the foreseeable future. That said, Home is constantly evolving and changing and sometimes content will be time-limited for a variety of reasons, so I always urge players to take immediate advantage of our games, events, items, and other content offerings.





The free game that we get for private use. Is it the same as the public game?





Yes – the active item game is exactly the same as the public game, save for the alien characters (NPCs), which are only present in the game space itself.





What is in the public space that we have not seen before?





Here’s something you may not be aware of: situated in the center of the space -- right in front of Raaksu (OAC’s notorious pit boss) -- is a “high rollers table” that is only accessible by players that have unlocked the alien costume rewards associated with the Ooblag game.





Ooblag looks very mean or grumpy. Is he?





The pit boss’ name is actually Raaksu. And he’s not a very cuddly character – especially if you lose a round.





How many NPCs are there?





I can’t recount the exact number off the top of my head (I’m actually writing these answers while travelling internationally and do not have my PS3 on-hand at the moment to reference the space), but there are over 10 NPCs in OAC (perhaps even 15). We were careful to include as many NPCs as possible so as to create a sense of immersion for players.





Is there a leaderboard for the game?





There is no leaderboard for the game, though of course there is a points system in the game itself. The design decision was made to elevate high performing players in the eyes of the community first by rewarding them with the alien costumes and, secondly, by allowing the best of the best to access a special “high rollers” version of the Ooblag craps table.





Are there rewards for the public or private game or are they all together?





The rewards are in the public space and include male and female full-body alien costumes as well as the Ooblag active item game reward.





Who made up Ooblag’s name, and does it have any meaning besides his name?





The name(s) used in the game were created by a creative agency that we have worked very closely with on designing some of our past community events and who generate some of the promotional videos and posters you see in-world, advertising games, events, and virtual items. There is no particular back story to the name – we just thought it sounded appropriately “alien” and cool.



I think Home users really will enjoy the Casino. Do you see it as a social gathering public space or a Casino gaming area?



It’s designed to serve both functions. While I think the community will find the Ooblag game itself to be very compelling, the rich and unique environment will I believe inspire players to utilize the space as a social hub as well. In fact, I predict at least one club or group will be created based around the alien costume rewards and that emergent community gameplay will develop in the form of user-generated events.



Tell us something we wouldn't ever ask or know about the Casino.




It was originally developed as a community event for Central Plaza, a la Turkey Chase and Winter Wonderland. However, our Business team brought in so many partners and developers that wanted to create cool content hosted in Central Plaza (such as the Ford Showroom, Scribble Shooter, and Dead Island TGI) that we had to create a separate, discrete game space just for the Alien Casino – that’s how busy the Central Plaza is these days! Having more content lined up than you can fit at any one time is a good problem to have, I must say, and I think the Home community would agree!



There are two key insights from this which I found most interesting: that the Alien Casino is absolutely free, and that GlassWalls and Locust_Star themselves are the executive producers.

Consider that for a moment. Home Community Management could have developed anything they wanted to; yet they specifically chose to develop a gaming space with community elements that was absolutely free to play. As far as I know, that’s about as universally appealing as it gets in Home.



Many thanks to Locust_Star and SCEA for consenting to this interview; all of us here at HomeStation Magazine hope that the community enjoys Ooblag’s Alien Casino for a long time to come.



~ Jersquall





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PostSubject: They Came In Peace – And With Chips: An Interview With Locust_Star   Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:19 am

After playing around with the Casio for a bit I think a may have a gambling addiction
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PostSubject: Re: They Came In Peace – And With Chips: An Interview With Locust_Star    Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:23 am

Thanks for sharing this interview with us Jers! Previously I had thought that the space was going to offer different casino games and thus might be lacking in that regard. But, reading that this space was originally intended to be an event in CP, and then needed to be made into a separate public space gives a new perspective. I did also take for granted that the space is completely free and did not know that it was exclusively produced by Locust_Star and Glasswalls. Even though they don't have other games that I thought would have been cool like Black Jack and slot machines, they did do a good job on the space based on the original intent and with the redesign of PS Home coming soon, I am looking forward to what they come up with for the new platform. Very Happy


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PostSubject: Re: They Came In Peace – And With Chips: An Interview With Locust_Star    Sat Aug 27, 2011 11:56 pm

Awesome Interview Razz Congrats Jer wooot
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PostSubject: Re: They Came In Peace – And With Chips: An Interview With Locust_Star    Sun Aug 28, 2011 12:02 am

Lolz at crackdown I belive we all get bite by that grambling bug tehe


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PostSubject: Re: They Came In Peace – And With Chips: An Interview With Locust_Star    Sun Aug 28, 2011 1:17 am

I got 27,000 items I think I need to go to Ooblag and get this free costume O.o
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PostSubject: Re: They Came In Peace – And With Chips: An Interview With Locust_Star    Mon Aug 29, 2011 11:26 pm

yeah great interview
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PostSubject: Re: They Came In Peace – And With Chips: An Interview With Locust_Star    Mon Aug 29, 2011 11:59 pm

Yes indeed Congrats woot Loved it :p
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