Hiramatsu: PLAYSTATION®3 also features a much more refined graphical user interface (GUI). Take the home menu screen, for example. Rather than a design to show off impressive graphics performance, it's more subdued than ever. Imagine a movie scene—that's the mood it creates. A character enters a control room and taps a touchpanel. Gently, the system surges to life ... That's what we envisioned.
To be exact, there's a constantly changing image at the back of the home menu screen that flows like a wave. It symbolizes the network world on the other side of the screen. The network world is always moving, always dynamic. PLAYSTATION®3 is your interface to that world. Reach out for it, and you can access it anytime. We wanted to express this sense of excitement. A sense that many things are possible. After a game starts up, you hear a sound like tinkling bells as the PLAYSTATION®3 logo is displayed. Here, we wanted to convey the feeling that you're crossing over into the world of entertainment, passing through a gate.
The startup sound is an orchestra tuning up. An oboe plays a reference note and is joined by all sorts of instruments changing pitch as they match that note. To capture the soundscape and tuning sequence, as chaotic pitches resolve gracefully, we localized the sounds to match corresponding positions of instruments in an orchestra. The process of creating this sound was very complex, and it was hard work to create something that sounds so simple.
Hiramatsu: For the GUI, we chose the XMB™ (XrossMediaBar). Press a button and the response is immediate. The screen changes immediately. Here, we wanted a speedy response to make the interface easier to understand. Some design ideas were inspired by the PlayStation®2 DVD menu screen. Rows of transparent icons hover on the screen. They can be used to control the system while you're enjoying the content. The icon layout was devised with the HD aspect ratio of 16:9 in mind.
In designing the icons themselves, we tried not to be trapped into any rigid preconceptions that Japanese might be susceptible to. In the PSX™ digital recorder that was sold in Japan, for example, we wanted to use an icon for an easy settings mode that depicts a hatching chick. It was meant as a reference guide for users new to the PSX™, who are like newborn chicks in a way. But we were surprised when American staff members said it seemed too puzzling. The egg reminded them of Humpty Dumpty, which is associated with wonder and fantasy. There's a sense of mystery about what might come out, they said. That's why we developed the current design while working closely with members overseas.
As for the actual development process, it mainly involved creating movies as presentations to illustrate the operation. We had a select team of six people this time. I was happy that programmers were readily available, because the moment we had an idea, we could try it out immediately. And because Sony Computer Entertainment emphasizes the user interface as much as the technology involved, I was able to participate at a relatively early stage. This much freedom to incorporate our ideas into the specifications excited us during development, and we were committed to setting a new standard in interface design.
Hiramatsu: PlayStation® is released worldwide. The pressure never to compromise is tremendous.
As we refine our ideas, we imagine what the XMB™ will be like 20 years from now. Of course, the system will probably still be enjoyed in our living rooms. But who knows? Maybe people will be navigating the XMB™ on something other than a TV screen. We'll be selecting icons floating in the air, perhaps. Or we wonder, if the XMB™ appeared in some movie scene, how would the characters operate it? We will always look to the next stage in user interface and strive to bring it to users.
To get a PLAYSTATION®3 is to acquire that futuristic user interface yourself. That's because you'll keep up with evolving specifications through updates over the network. This GUI is just the start. You can look forward to some great developments in times to come.