Here are some changes to the PlayStation Vita I would love to see

By on 03-12-2012 in Everything else, Tech and Games

PlayStation Vita

After spending some time with my shiny new PlayStation Vita, I can say that I absolutely love it. Or at the very least, I love the potential of the device. When it comes to the games and their visual fidelity, I’m sold.
It’s the Vita’s OS that I’m having some problems with. There are things that, in my opinion, mess with the user experience. Here’s a short list for Sony and I hope they’ll take notes:

Notifications

Notifications do not work very well (yet), and it seems it will only keep you signed in into PSN when you’re either in a game or in an active party. If you do something else, you will see the ‘Signing in’ pop-up when you try to go back to your Friends List.

What I expected it to do (especially with the 3G version, which I have), is keep you signed in all the time (using push notifications and a proxy, much like apps like eBuddy/WhatsApp etc) and constantly inform you of Near activity, notify you about invites/messages when the Vita is in standby.

Suggestion:

  • Use push-notifications and a proxy to keep users signed in into the PSN even while idle (and standby), or at least include it as an option so you can choose if you want this just on Wifi or both Wifi and 3G. I understand that this was designed to save your battery, but when I’m at home – using my Wifi and with my charger stand by, I just want the option to be online all the time like on my PS3.

The main thing here, is that it’s annoying to get game invites or messages 15 minutes later than they were sent.

  • Currently, if a user ‘likes’ / ‘thumbs up’ or comments on something that happened in the Near / game-specific activity feeds, no one receives any notification of that event. There’s no reason to comment on a status-update if no one knows about it…

Online Gaming

  • Right now, you can’t quickly invite someone to your party or check the time when you’re waiting in a game lobby, because when you press the PS Button, the game instantly disconnects you! Please change this.

The Quick Settings menu (accessed by long-pressing the PS Button) would be a great place to include some useful functionalities such as Party, Messages, Friends etc. To prevent it from getting cluttered, I think tabs should be used at the top (and display notification bubbles on them to indicate if something happened within those tabs).

Like this:

Quicksettings with tabs

  • Some games seem to FORCE your connection to be in an ‘offline’ state. Is this because those games were in development long before the Vita’s hardware / OS were finalized, or is there another reason? Because I strongly advice to NOT do this for future games, as the (long awaited) cross-game Party Chat-app has no use if games keep forcing you to sign off the PlayStation Network and go offline.

User Interface

  • Enable an option to skip the ‘Live Area’ screen of the social apps, so you don’t have to keep touching ‘Start’ after selecting Party, Friends or Group Messages. I understand things like ‘documentation’ and a quick ‘link’ to ‘compose message’ and such are on those screens, but they can also be accessed within the ‘app’ by pressing the PS-button afterwards). Forcing users to press a button twice to get to where they want will get them annoyed. And right now, the Vita’s UI becomes cumbersome to use after some time.
  • When you get notifications, you can’t touch the bubble. You have to press the PS-button and then touch the upper right corner, touch the notification again etc. Basically, this sucks. It should just go to the notification list when I touch the notification bubble, or at least open the list when I press the PS-button while the notification is still active.
  • Add a 3G/Wifi switch to the quick settings screen (accessed by holding the PS button – the screen where you also adjust the brightness).
Quicksetting-screen with Wifi/3G switches

Quicksetting-screen with Wifi/3G switches (click for full size)

  • Add / Enable PORTRAIT VIEW when I tilt my screen in the browser.
  • Finally, there’s the IN YOUR FACE pop-ups that keep informing me about things I don’t care about. They only make the UI feel slow. I’m talking about the ‘Please wait…’ and ‘Signing into the PlayStation Network’ or ‘Sending message – 22% of 100%’ pop-ups. Come on! Just show me the cached version of the latest state the app was in, and refresh/reconnect in the background. Same goes for Trophies, or Sending messages…}
  • When I send a message, just let me continue with what I was doing and send it in the background. Then, when it’s sent, notify me with the more subtle notifications that are also being used for Trophies/Online Friends/Messages received and such.

Additionally, I have some ideas to enhance / enrich the social experience:

Activity Stream

Right now, we have this lovely stream of all the stuff your friends are doing (you can see the entire stream in ‘Near’, but you can also filter it by scrolling down a game’s Live Area-screen), which is great, but very messy.

  • You can comment on stuff and like it, but as far as I know, no one will get notified about comments/likes, so why even bother?
  • Everything is being pushed into the stream unbundled. If High Score-updates would merge and only show the highest score, and Trophy-updates would be combined (so that you can expand the update to see all collected trophies), the feature would be much better in my opinion.
Bundled feed updates

Bundled feed updates (click for full size)

Tabbed feed

Tabbed feed (click for full size)

But that’s not all. Because the stream is a great addition, but it has so much more potential as a whole:

 

General Leaderboards

Currently, there’s no way to filter the stream for ‘highest score’, so that you can easily see what your friends best scores are. Yes, some games support it internally, but not all games.

The best example here, is Welcome Park: The app has some fun games, which are great to get some competition going among friends. But there’s no way to keep up to date with the latest scores, unless you go digging in the (very long and ever growing) stream…

If the Vita would have General Leaderboards for ALL games (which need to be supported by all developers), we could all just check out Friends and Universal High Scores within the Vita’s OS!
Wouldn’t that be something?

This would also allow for even more competitive fun, such as:

 

Integrated Challenges

In addition to the General Leaderboards, I think a ‘Challenge’-system within games could prove to be very fun. Example:You just scored an amazing high score and think: I bet my friends can never beat that! Well… what if the game would ask you to send you score as a challenge to one or more friends?

Right now, you can do this in MotorStorm RC, but what I mean is an ‘Universal’ feature that works the same for every game, so users will eventually recognize it and use it with ease.

Here’s how it could work:

  • Tap or Select the ‘Send Challenge’ button
  • Select the Friend(s) you would like to challenge
  • Press Send

 

That’s it!
Now, in order for this to work, your Friends need to be notified about their incoming Challenges… So I suggest an integration with the current Notifications:

 

High Score Notifications

Imagine you’re playing a game or doing whatever on your PS Vita and I just sent you a Challenge…

PING!
“Caemgen has challenged you to beat his High Score of 223.442 in Super Stardust Delta’s Arcade Mode (Medium difficulty)” – Accept Challenge?

You press ‘Accept’ and the Vita asks if you would like to start the game right away, or save the challenge for later. You decide to go for it straight away and press ‘Accept’.

PING!
I get notified about you accepting my challenge.

PING!
I get notified about you beating my high score and you send me a new challenge right away.

The above scenario is one of the things that could be done with this functionality. Something else that would a great addition to this mechanic, is an option to enable notifications for whenever a friend beats on of your high scores in ANY game.

 

‘Filtering’ notifications

Additionally, it would be nice to filter out some of these notifications (or disable them all together, if you’re not into competitive gaming at all, or have no friends to play games with).

  • Disable notifications for a specific game
  • Limit ‘Challenge’ notifications to bundled alerts hourly
  • Disable all notifications for ‘Challenges’(you could still be able to check the Global Leaderboards and select the ‘Challenges’ tab to see whatever Challenges and notifications are currently open).

 

Filtering general notifications

Speaking of filtering notifications; It would be nice to be able to select what kind of alerts you will see when playing a game. I, for one, don’t care that ‘Friend X’ is online when I’m enjoying an epic singleplayer-game and especially not when the notification is obscuring my view when I’m in the heat of battle or about to win a race.


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8 Comments

  1. Wow! On the spot Kevin!

    So recognizable and Sony really has to work on the UI.

    Also another annoying notification is when a friend is coming online. The bubble is to big and takes up to much space. And at the moment on the Vita I don’t care if a friend is coming on PSN. Different story on PS3.

    Great article and is it okay if I use it as a source for a video for PSFocus?

    • Hi Roel, thanks for your comment.

      About the notification bubbles: They changed the time for it to disappear to 3 seconds (instead of 5) in the latest firmware-update, so that’s much better already. I do agree on its size though… and also, like I suggested, I think it would just be best if we could choose what kind of notifications we get.

      I would like to get notifications for messages, Near gifts, Trophies and Party invites for example… but not for online friends.

      Also: What kind of video?

  2. precisely! on a separate topic, could you release the ps vita wallpaper packs as pics? i’m trying to directly download them from my vita

  3. Please! Send this to SONY!!!!!

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