Last Semester, I was browsing Facebook when I came across an art competition that John Ardussi from Game Mechanics was hosting. Basically, he challenged us to create a mural for a new, upcoming personal space and three submissions would be chosen for it. While working in between classes, midterms and final projects, I asked him for the dimensions of the mural and if there was a specific theme he wanted me to work on. After taking the number in pixels and translating it into inches, I scaled the dimensions down to fit on two 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets of paper. Then I taped the two together, measured out my border, and started to create. It was a crossover theme, taking a movie based on a real event and fusing it with a fantasy fairytale. After some research and about a week of work in between classes and assignments, Laurence in Wonderland was born. I finished the piece after working well into the night, then into the morning, uploading it around 7AM.
Early in the summer, I got an e-mail from Game Mechanics. They congratulated me and told me that my art was accepted. At a loss for words, I thanked John for accepting my piece. For myself, this was a very humbling experience, and to a certain extent, a dream partially fulfilled. I am thankful for being involved with this project. This year, I have been officially gaming on this planet for thirty years now. Nothing could make me happier than having any kind of involvement in the development of a Personal Space, even if it was just a single piece of art that would be in it.
For all of the years I have been on Home, I have never seen such an efficiently coded space. There is so much going on in the background and foreground, yet it loads up at a fast pace. Boats and Yachts ride through the ocean. Hot Air Balloons float through the sky. Your personal helicopter fly off into the distance, as if it were going to pick up the next string of guests coming over to Fantasy Island. All of this hustle and bustle and still, there is a whole space to explore. A four level space to be exact.
The view from the Seaclyff is accompanied by a twelve person hot tub that can be tuned on or off via the control panel on the first floor. This panel also controls the music, which can also be on or off in separate sections of the space, giving us full control over its sound direction. Also, you can select one of four murals (Three from other PlayStation Home Community Members and one from Game Mechanics). All of this functionality and this is only the first of many control panels that can be found within the space.
Walk inside the space and the doors will instantly open for you. You can then open up the refrigerator, turn on the kitchen sink, and open up the microwave. Interacting with various items in the space will reward you with some cool items like a clock, a lifeguard’s chair, Home Theater seating, a Bowling Pin and even an interactive Soccer Ball complete with Goal Posts. Also, in the basement, if anyone plays the built in Solitaire game and wins, everyone in the space gets it from use in their own Personal Space.
Speaking of which, the basement (AKA The Man Cave) is the perfect place to set up an interactive arcade or a home theater. It was just the right amount of space for me to cram in every playable arcade machine I own as well four picture frames, a vending machine and a pool table. I was amazed that there was still a decent, but not an overbearing amount of space to move around in. The Man Cave also has its own control panel that has access to the music player and lets you play a codebreaker mini game.
Heading up to the second floor brings you to a control panel that allows you to change the wallpaper in every major room on the second floor. These rooms include the study, the bathroom with a working sink, shower and toilet bowl that makes bowel sounds when you sit and flushes when you stand up and the bedroom with a beautiful, oceanfront view. You can also control the fans from here as well.
Outside of the bedroom is a switch which will open the secret staircase that gets you into the observatory deck which also has a roof that is a planetarium. Outside on the third floor balcony is a control panel that can control if the helicopter stays on the pad or if it leaves the space, the toilet sounds and the music. This is also a good lookout point for checking out some of the developers Easter Eggs laying out in the distance.
I also want to mention how much I appreciate the level of detail that went into the modeling of this space. John and Mike did an excellent job with (Warning!!! Incoming Techie Talk) the bi-rails on the stairs, the reflection and specularity coming from the lights and mirrors, the texturing and bump mapping on the walls and the overall subtle details in the water effects, grass, wildlife and outdoor lighting. Believe me when I say this, lighting is a very challenging subject and John and Mike have shown true mastery of their craft. They are true masters of Ray Tracing and Depth Map shadowing. You can tell by that subtle glint of light that hits the bottom of the mirror in the dining room as you are staring at the murals and everything else in its reflection. Also, the way the slight blueish tints come off of the windows and doors that lead you to the hot tub are incredibly convincing considering the small amount of memory that they have to work with.
Basically, we have all of this functionality and the capability to display up to fifteen picture frames in the space. I used this space to create a hybrid known as the Art-Cade. Its the perfect place for general get togethers because overall, the Seaclyff Retreat has a little something for everyone. Music, Hot Tub, Art, Automatic Doors, functioning appliances, Solitaire, decent rewards and an incredible view make this the best party place in Home. It has enough realism to make sense, yet it has enough toys to give it variety. And exactly why is it varied? Because Game Mechanics actually listens to its users. What we have here is a space developed in a year by two guys that have a real passion for Home. While the space may cost $20, you are basically all of the functionality of the mansions plus more in one space instead of four for fifteen dollars cheaper. Also, if you decide to purchase the bundle, for $25 you get the personal space and clubhouse plus a music player that can be used in any personal space. Give that the personal space is $20, the clubhouse is $15 and the music player is $3, you save $13 for purchasing the bundle.
Overall, The Seaclyff Retreat is a memory efficient, highly versatile space that is worth much more than the sum of its parts. If you have been looking for a new place to party, Game Mechanics’ first Personal Space showcases what decades of experience can get you.
Still curious about the space? When I’m not at class or busy with assignments, send me a message at Lord_Rinja and I’ll gladly give you a tour of the space