Sony Keynote by Phil Harrison (UPDATE)

At the Game Developers Conference in San Jose today, Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios president Phil Harrison delivered a keynote address focusing around Sony's hardware and video game strategy for the coming year. Fitting in with the keynote's title, "PlayStation 3: Beyond the Box," the main topic at hand was Sony's upcoming next-gen console. Harrison reconfirmed several details announced at Sony's Japanese PS3 event last week, announced some new details, and invited a variety of developers to the stage to show off tech demos of their work in progress.

UPDATE: Sony just concluded a brief press Q&A followup to the keynote. The following issues were addressed:
- Sony does not expect the Xbox 360's first to market advantage to affect its strategy. "Throughout our history, we have never been the first platform to market in terms of a generational shift," Harrison stated.
- Sony will be ensuring that any user-created content or purchasable content falls within the standards of ratings organizations worldwide, but there will be no other restrictions. For example, there is the possibility of full-budget games being distributed online in markets with wide broadband penetration.
- There is no reason PS3 will be limited to game content; other downloadable content (music, movies, etc.) will be supported by its online service.
- Harrison acknowledged that PS2 was "difficult to program" due to proprietary design, but PS3 SPUs are general purpose and targeted towards high-level languages such as C++, allowing developers to easily understand the dev environment.
- Software will be region free by default. Publishers can choose to restrict their own software to specific display standards.
- The Immersion force feedback lawsuit has had "no bearing" on Sony's failure to show a finalized controller design. It will be shown at E3.

I'll get a fuller summary up later, but for now, here are the major points:

PS3:
- The system will have a full worldwide launch in all major territories: Japan, North America, Europe, Australia. It will roll out in early November.
- To facilitate the launch, the PS3 will have the highest production capacity of any Sony product yet brought to market, including its past consoles.
- PS3 will support every display standard, including regional standard defitition settings including PAL and NTSC as well as all high-def standards up to 1080p Full HD
- Integrated ethernet and wireless networking
- Hard drive included, though Harrison skipped past mentioning the hard drive other than with a bullet point
- Middleware providers such as Epic (Unreal Engine 3), AGEIA (PhysX 2.4), and HAVOK (HAVOK Complete XS 3.3) will tune their products to take full advantage of the Cell's SPU and GPU
- Final development environments will ship to developers in June. Partially complete tools will be available in April for E3.
- Sony is launching the SCE Worldwide Studios e-Distribution intitiative, intended to attract developers with innovative ideas, who will then be contacated by Sony regional offices. Games created through this initiative will be distributed online.
- The system will have full backwards compatibility with PS1 and PS2. Every PS1 and PS2 game that properly observed its system's TRC

Online service: PlayStation Network Platform
- Name is an internal codename, and not the final consumer label.
- Four Cs: Content, Communication, Community, Commerce
- Basic service free of charge, includes all gameplay features: matchmaking, online video and voice chat, email integration, community features; all of these are processed by the PS3's operating system and accessible at the API level
- Games can be downloaded and run from hard drive; Sony envisions episodic gaming and digital distribution taking off on PS3
- "Open internet" business philosophy allowing developers to add their own servers for MMOs or other network-intensive games
- Next week, initial server/client SDKs will be sent to developers. By July, the service will be in testing, and by September it will be complete, in time for launch.

Tech demos:
- "Sequel" to last year's duck tech demo. The new demo was an underwater scene showing thousands of fish of different species, each with unique behavior and patterns.
- Two demos from Insomniac: futuristic first person shooter (Resistance: Fall of Man), and new Ratchet & Clank game. The R&C demo was set in a futuristic city with bright colors, and hundreds of flying cars.
- Singstar video showing the possibility of buying new songs for the game through Sony's Connect service
- MotorStorm from Evolution studios, showed dune buggy causing geometric deformation in mud as it drives. Mud particles being sprayed mapped persistently onto nearby geometry.
- Warhawk from SCE Incognito, showed dogfighting in the vicinity of huge capital ships, tons of firepower across the screen, ocean modeled with realtime wave simulator
- Realtime render of city streets in the UK, with ambient sound, car noises, high-def textures, etc.
- Ragdoll demo with about 1000 fully modeled and skinned soldiers, exploding in realtime with ragdoll and physics