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A whole new world?

  • Darren Waters
  • 7 Mar 07, 09:37 PM

The great things about video games is that it is perhaps the only creative art form that continues to push the boundaries that define it.

At the Sony press conference today the firm unveiled a title being developed by a new company called Media Molecule.

little203.jpg

Its first proper title LittleBigPlanet is perhaps one of the most dazzling demos I've seen in the last 10 years.

The concept is simple - build your own levels/worlds with a very simple tool set and with extremely cute characters and then play in that world and share it with others online.

It has been done before but never with such panache, never with such charisma and such ingenuity.

The game has a visceral feel - thanks to a great physics engine - and it also has an abundance of character.

Sony has a huge hit on its hands here although frustratingly it won't be available until the Autumn - and then only in demo form on the PlayStation network.

I'm guessing that Sony wanted to get something of the game into the hands of users as soon as possible.

The response to the game in the conference hall was ecstatic - this is an industry that has "seen it all before" but many left with the sense that LittleBigPlanet was something special.

The community aspect of the game is also interesting - users can comment, favourite and play other gamers' levels.

It taps into the vision Sony has of community experiences through gaming - a service they are calling Home.

sports203.jpg


Essentially it is Second Life meets video games - but more importantly it differentiates Sony's online offering from Microsoft's.

It is three dimensional, interactive and incorporates social networking functionality.

After seeing a demo of Home, I have to say that Xbox Live now looks a little last generation.

Has Sony pulled a rabbit out of its hat?

Possibly. Now if only they could make the machine more affordable.


Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 10:49 AM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Joeymx wrote:

I'm not quite sure what to make of this, or what you're describing?

Is this a more or less adult version of Viva Pinata or what?

Can't help but feel a bit confused here, the image you've provided looks to show quite a simple and therefore in my eyes "childish" environment, is this going to appeal to hardcore gamers?

Would like a follow up on this.

  • 2.
  • At 10:53 AM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Kev Ruane wrote:

Sony has a habit of attempting to copy other people's ideas....and failing miserably. Take a look at "Star Wars Galaxies"; an underfunded advertising campaign ensured that the initial takeup was never really big, but it was generally well designed. Then "World of Warcraft" came along, and Sony decided to try and copy some elements of the game in Galaxies. It failed miserably and players left the game in droves of thousands.

Emulation can rarely achieve the same effects as a truly novel and innovative product. Sony realised this with PS1 and PS2 consoles. The PS3 could do the same, but not until Sony learn to stop copying existing successes and invest in creating their own.

  • 3.
  • At 11:36 AM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Sony=!Sony Sony Online Entertainment has nothing to do what is in the minds of Sony Computer Entertainment

  • 4.
  • At 12:02 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Richard Browning wrote:

Lol. It's incredibly interesting to hear people's naivete on the BBC forums: the kind of pro-M$oft fanboyism rampant normally through the Beeb's own favouritism.

The last article by Darren, continuing the Sony scepticism, was leapt upon by Sony haters and the comments overflowed with "I told you so's" "Sony's lost it big time," etc etc.

Now, as the PS3 starts - only starts, mined ewe - to show its true capabilities, the Sony denigration begins.

You can have your last gen 360s and last-last-gen Wiis. My PS3 arrives soon and, by crikey, I can't wait.

  • 5.
  • At 12:02 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Richard Read wrote:

I think Sony may have grasped the Web 2.0 methodology and applied it to a videogame. Sure there are other MMORPG's which people will be able to draw comparison, but allowing users to design their own worlds using a simplistic toolset is certainly a step closer to a more open interactive gaming experience.

Microsoft is achieving this with the release of their XBNA framework, meaning mods and adaptions to games can be created by a wider variety of people, rather than techies with knowledge of C++. However if Sony provided a toolset with enough design options and functionality, then gamers will create worlds without ever looking at a line of code.

  • 6.
  • At 12:10 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Tim Dace wrote:

Sony's new online 'Home' environment has the potential to be the killer of all killer apps. I say ‘potential’ because before this happens Sony will need to answer many questions and issues which surround their new world. In a nutshell ‘Home’ looks to be “The Sims” and “Myspace” all rolled into one with gaming as the glue. As most people know The Sims and Myspace are extremely popular worldwide with many people whom don’t normally associate themselves with these things. Little Big Planet looks great! It’s fresh, simple, vibrant world just oozes character. Special note should also be made to the music and sound in this game. It fits the idea and content perfectly. Well done to Sony for turning things around and getting back to what matters most... Having fun!

  • 7.
  • At 12:29 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Lee wrote:

This isn't a great description of the game and a google of littlebigplanet brings back now result of relevance.

My little brother is the typical gamer that Sony should be aiming at. He already has an Xbox 360 with loads of great games on it. If I were to ask him to sit down and play what looks like a bubbly kids game where the main focus is to "interact" with other people he'd sneer and walk away.

He plays world of warcraft because theres some goal to that. Long story short, how many kids are going to want this on their christmas list and how many hardcore gamers are really that bothered by another game where the soul goal is to interact with other people?

  • 8.
  • At 12:38 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Luke wrote:

Joeymx:

If you see the trailer in action you understand what the hype is about. Put it this way - I am a hardcore gamer, but I dont play many online games and I NEVER play platformers.

But I am going to buy LittleBigPlanet. The graphics are brilliant, the physics are brilliant, and the puzzles are simple but require teamwork.

If you find the trailer online (there are various sites that have posted it) I advise you to watch it, then you'll understand what the fuss is about.

Home looks brilliant as well. Seamless transition into mini games and the extent to which rooms/avatars are customisable is brillinat, and the cinema section is inspired. Good work Sony, its about time we had a NICE surprise!

  • 9.
  • At 12:53 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Yixian wrote:

I don't... know... how they managed it, but in one conference, Sony turned the PS3 into the least exciting platform of the next generation, to the most exciting one.

The late release dates for Home and Little Big Planet are perhaps more of a problem than people are admitting right now, but all the same, these products are the very definition of "killer apps".

If Sony can reproduce these kind of radical and ingenious revelations, the troubled eearly months of the PS3s life will quickly disintegrate in front of the most exciting campaign in recent video game history.

  • 10.
  • At 01:15 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

I hardly see a "childish environment" - this is without doubt one of the best in game demos ive seen it really does look like a Pixar movie. It flows along beautifully and with creating environments on the go its defintely one for the creative gamer.

I really like the idea of "Home" i think it ads an awful lot to the PS3 brand and the hall of fame idea for viewing milestones (achievements) its a definite bonus as a lot of users were complaining about this post launch.

I think its creating something different to XBox Live as opens up a customised world full of your own pictures, movies etc and its got great chat and interactivity features.

  • 11.
  • At 01:21 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Prae wrote:

Its worthy of note that the Xbox took 3 years to produce its most effective games in Halo 2 etc. Playstation 2 has only just done it with Final Fantasy XII.. the Xbox 360 isnt there yet, though latest confirmed rumours show that new games due shortly already surpasse the beauty of games such as Oblivion and Gears of War.. Games such as Mass Effect

Knowing how Sony market products, it will take me an awfully large amount of convincing before I would consider writing off Xbox Live. Or spending £425...

Prae UK

  • 12.
  • At 01:57 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Geoffrey Roberts wrote:

Game demos tend to not match the reality. Besides which it won't tempt people to spend £425 on a console to play a game that's probably a year away.

  • 13.
  • At 02:09 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • TomBo wrote:

Yixian: I don't know how you can think that a very small feature of the PS3 such as this can turn it from 'the least exciting console'. That would imply you're rating the console on the basis of its software. Whereas the true definition of the console is what the hardware inside of it is capable of doing, it is up to the software devs to put it to good use. And since the PS3 is the most powerful of the next-gen consoles (on paper, at least), I hardly think you can say that it isn't very exciting.
At least Sony isn't basing its entire campaign on gimmicks and franchises like Nintendo...

  • 14.
  • At 02:10 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • James wrote:

Yay - Yet another way to be sociable without leaving your house.

[/sarcasm]

  • 15.
  • At 02:17 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • TomBo wrote:

Yixian: I don't know how you can think that a very small feature of the PS3 such as this can turn it from 'the least exciting console'. That would imply you're rating the console on the basis of its software. Whereas the true definition of the console is what the hardware inside of it is capable of doing, it is up to the software devs to put it to good use. And since the PS3 is the most powerful of the next-gen consoles (on paper, at least), I hardly think you can say that it isn't very exciting.
At least Sony isn't basing its entire campaign on gimmicks and franchises like Nintendo...

  • 16.
  • At 02:57 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Kev Ruane wrote:

To Richard Browning: I am a massive fan of the PS1, PS2 and PSP and will probably be a massive fan of the PS3 (if "she" let's me get one!) as Sony's gaming hardware has been consistantly great since 1994. What I am aware of though is their inability to capitalise on this innovation in terms of the online and software markets; markets that both these new "games" plan to capitalise on.

Take a look at some of their recent projects in these areas; Star Wars Galaxies, Everquest II, Planetside, PSP online gaming etc. None of them ever set the world alive with the gusto that PS2 has. Long term users of online environments, which I consider myself, know that flashy graphics and copying other people's ideas will rarely make a hit product. Sure, Home and LBP do look great but I doubt that they will do much to attract the exisiting online userbase of other communities such as Second Life, WOW and Counterstrike.

  • 17.
  • At 02:58 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Ranithy Ben wrote:

It seems round 1 and 2 have gone to xbox and nintendo respectively... and I would venture to say that this next holiday season will be another bitter battle between the three giants of the video game industry.

Although, for sony, I'm not sure even these pleasant suprises of "home" and "littlebigplanet" can compete with Halo 3 and Super Mario Galaxy/ Metroid this next holiday season, not to mention a probable price point drop for the 360 and the release of the new hdmi 360 with larger hard drive.

Until sony can lower it's price point, they still might be a distant third.

It's amazing how some people think that just because they claim the Playstation platform is a failure it becomes true. Its best to focus on the facts.

Sony did something amazing with the Playstation 1, they matured video games into a mainstream leisure industry that young adults could enjoy. It is now a multi-billion pound industry. The PS2 is still the world's best selling console

Now the next-generation of gaming involves the internet and social networking. Many people have a home PC, but for leisure use its more convenient to use a games console under the TV.
The PS3 is built for this connected generation. It is expensive, but with time the price will fall. However the Playstation Home service is wonderful because it makes social networking easily accessible via the t.v. Sony have created a wonderful Trojan Horse that will allow anyone to create their own personalised space on the internet. They have taken a big gamble, however it is exciting and shows great vision. I think this could be a raging success across countries and cultures.

"Mined ewe"? Brilliant. You're not from Wales, perchance, are you Richard Browning?

  • 20.
  • At 03:23 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Troc Ster wrote:

Lol does anybody remember planetside ? At $10 per month to keep developing it, and to keep the content fresh, they said. All planteside users swallowed that marketing.

They took the money and the community communit community went NOWHERE. The only people who want more sony products are the ones who have no cognitive autonomy.

  • 21.
  • At 05:24 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Nintendo basing their whole campaign on franchises and gimmicks? Well first how is it bad that they are focusing on the GAMES and as for gimmicks, Sony's offerings have it in spades. I predict all of this will become very old, very quickly.

  • 22.
  • At 05:59 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • GWXworld wrote:

You want to play a game. You put console on put a disc in and play.
Simple as that!

You want to go online console to console!

You have friends online you setup a system to contact them somehow. A simple system you connect and you go play!

If you stream vide oonline I would suppose a simple menu icon would say VIDEO..or somthing and you "click" that and you go to the VIDEOS section and you see the latest trailers or w/e there.
Why do you need to put things in a virtual space like that and do all that complicated shit.

How are people gonig to do all that with Sony's fudgy Dual Shock controllers and D-pad? That looks complicated.(only those accustomed to Sony's WAY aer going understand it. Its mesy and complicated. Twisting thumbsticks around and hittingg d-pads and putting in memory sticks and looking for files on memory sticks and all kinds of complicated yim yam!

A Wii-mote is so seemless an super intuative. Just point and click and your done! Siaxis cannot follow that!
And as for tilting the sicaxis to do head movements. It doesn't even deserve a comment.

Why do you as a sane human being ad as a gamer need to go into a virtual world to see a trailer of an upcoming game when you can just have a link in the menu with a simple webpage listing the latest trailers there instead? You click what trailer you want to see there and wala...No need to make some virtual trip into some room and put 100 tvs in it all showing trailers of some game or somthing. Viewign the vide oin a tinier view of its former true self? Wow Sony amazing!
It doesnt make any sense!!!

Why doesnt anyone else see the OVERLOAD?

Hmm?
The OVERLAOD!!!

Madness! Madness!
By the way that onlinegame Second Life that sony is copying here obviously, it sucks!

You want community you wwant to be mr or mrs popular. Go out and meat real people real friends. If you don't want to. fine. But please don't think you need to do it in some game.

You like games you love games you lay games(even more than yo should sometimes0 THEN yo lock the console off or w/e.

This is simply HYPE to the UBER level from Sony.

One customer definelty not buying it is moi.

I need a Wii.

  • 23.
  • At 06:25 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

"Home" takes the concept of an online marketplace, like XBL, and extends it with elements of the SIMs, Second Life, and MySpace. LittelBigPlanet and SingStar show, excitingly, how the concepts of user-generated content can be applied to console-based gaming. Add to that with inclusion of Blu-Ray, and the PS3 is more of a high-definition media centre and gateway than just a games console. As for price, the PS3 is cheaper than a similarly equiped XBOX 360(with hard drive, wireless LAN, HD-DVD drive, and rechargable controllers), while online play is free and games are cheaper. People should focus on value, and total cost of ownership, not just initial purchase price.
The comment about XBL looking "last generation" is bang on.... Sony has just shown us what the difference is between "last generation" and "game 3.0" and it's not just hi-def. XBOX 360 is looking very last generation now!

  • 24.
  • At 06:32 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Ieuan wrote:

"Can't help but feel a bit confused here, the image you've provided looks to show quite a simple and therefore in my eyes "childish" environment, is this going to appeal to hardcore gamers?"


That's the point, it's not meant to.

Hardcore Gamers (probably 5% of the potential market) already have 99% of the gaming industry pandering to them. This is aimed at the huge untapped market who are NOT hardcore gamers.

This will appeal to the creative types who will make the levels and the casual person who will enjoy a more simplistic challenge (ala 1980's games) that the hardcore gang. It will also offer a real community instead of just a collection of geeks like most gaming communities are now (I am a member of some myself).

It's all about growing the market.

  • 25.
  • At 06:44 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Slacky wrote:

Too much FUD from some people, as usual.

How is it this Home and Little Big Planet has received almost unanimous praise from every major game site when prior to this Sony has received a fair amount of negativity? Because it works and it's good. Before people judge it they should understand it. It isn't neccessary to go to this Home to invite friends to play games. An update is coming to give the PS3 this function (and remember Home doesn't officially start'til Autumn). Games can be launched from Home itself. Friends can watch the same trailer at the same time and listen to the same music at the same time. I don't mind criticism but I can not stand ignorance. Read up on it before cutting it down.

And there will always be those console manufacturer specific fans that will never accept that their "enemy" has done something good. Arguing with them is like arguing with a broken record.

This is good stuff from Sony. Accept it and move on.

  • 26.
  • At 08:58 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • William Ogle wrote:

"This is aimed at the huge untapped market who are NOT hardcore gamers."

I'm sorry, but you're wrong.

Being a hardcore gamer, and speaking with many other hardcore gamers, many have agreed that this game is something that we'd ALL love to play. I think the assumption that harcore gamers wont find this appealing is stereotyping.

And funnily, I'm glad I posted links for this and "Home" in the previous blogs' comments. I feel ahead...

  • 27.
  • At 11:45 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • D wrote:

Buying furniture? What?

It's a games console, what do you want virtual furniture for? How about a games console for games, and a real life for real life?

Using the medium of a phone, and the word "game?" everyone logs on and thats about as complicated as it needs to be.

End of the day, Sony and Microsoft fans can slap each other about online for about 8 more months (or less) Then it's Halo 3...

Microsoft = Winner

See you in the lobby.

  • 28.
  • At 08:46 AM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Lewis wrote:

I used to be a loyal customer of Sony until they decided that European gamers weren't worth the effort. I now own an XBox 360 and couldn't be happier.

The only thing that has made me keep my PS2 is God Of War 2, but i have no desire to spend £500 quid on a machine that won't do anything different. They now have very few 'Exclusive' games and the Online part of XBox is second to none.

Sony need to shape up and start appreciating its buyers and reward them accordingly. They could learn a thing or two from Microsoft (there's a statement i never thought i'd say!)

  • 29.
  • At 09:16 AM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Stephen Sweeney wrote:

Sorry, Prae UK, but I'm going to have to correct your post,

"Its worth noting that the Xbox took 3 years to produce its only effective game in Halo 2. MS shortly there after killed off the console after just 4 years. Playstation 2 has been alive and well for over 7 years and been producing great games for years with Singstar, Buzz, Kingdom Hearts, FFX, FFX-2, FF12, God of War, etc. The Xbox 360 isnt there yet and with beautiful but ultimately shallow games such as Mass Effect (do we really need ANOTHER shooter on Xbox?!) it will still be quite some time."

There, now it's fixed.

  • 30.
  • At 09:51 AM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

Erm, isn't this just Nintendo's Animal Crossing Wild World with flashy graphics? 0/10 for originality if you ask me, sounds like a straight copy of a concept that already exists.

  • 31.
  • At 10:38 AM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Prae wrote:

Dear Stephen Sweeney,

Sorry, I dont rise to people who correct others - feel free to berate me on www.sargvsprae.co.uk In its prime, the xbox had many fine titles.. As did the PS2 etc (of which I owned both). The 360 does have a large amount of FPS, but having played the majority, there all quite different games..

The real joys of the 360 though is the online experience and the Xbox Live Market place. My original point soley was that for a late machine with a price aimed at Hardcore gamers only, but with a launch line up aimed at the middle of the road market... I will need extra convincing.. Or at least I will wait a year, before the decent games come out, and the price drops.

each to there own eh?

  • 32.
  • At 11:04 AM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

Video games a "creative art form", Mr Waters? Er, no, they're just video games.

  • 33.
  • At 11:04 AM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Matthew wrote:

@Stephen Sweeney

It is common for all consoles that the best titles come along a few years into the life-cycle, PS2 is old by console standards and for the last few years we have been getting many fantastic games (recently Okami and God of War II). Xbox had a relatively short lifespan but managed to bring games like Forza Motorsport, Halo 1&2, and Ninja Gaiden. As someone who likes both consoles (PS2 was the first one I got)I advise against underrating the Xbox 360.

Right now FPS games are the norm because those are realtively simple and tend to be launch titles but give it a few years and we may see some true quality appearing. Same for PS3, we can get excited about technical specs but I'm not buying till I see some effective use of that power on a shelf.

This Home concept seems new and revolutionary but until its actually here I'll rely on a PC, which has been doing creative networking and sharing for far longer than either console.

  • 34.
  • At 12:34 PM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

Microsoft's been putting nails into the PS3's coffin ever since they released the XBox 360, and they're looking to hammer one bloody big nail right in there with the upcoming release of Halo 3, which is not only being heralded as the Godfather of FPS games, but also one of the most highly anticipated video games of all time. It also doesn't help that in a graphical comparison between the 360 and the PS3 done by a gaming website, out of the 10 games tested both machines scored higher marks than the other on 5 of the games - a stalemate. So, maybe the PS3 isn't going to completely blow the SS.Microsoft out of the water with graphics, but surely, for the Double Whopper with large fries and a coke of a price tag they've slapped on it, it's going to have at least a couple more party tricks up it's sleeve and down it's trousers, right?
Wrong - from what I've heard, it's big selling points are it's online services and 'Blue Ray'. Sadly, most of the online services that it will provide will probably be forgotten about after the first week or so because the only reason most people even hook a games console up the the internet is so that they can shoot at a guy from California for a bit before going off to streetrace with another guy who lives in Tokyo. So why the bloody hell have Sony bothered to roll the Sims, MSN messenger and Second Life up into a big bundle and cram it into the Play Station's shell? I don't use my XBox 360 to chat to my friends - for that I use MSN and a rather old device called a phone. And before anyone says "oh, well with the PS3 you and your friends can all watch the same thing at the same time," I want you to think about it - are you really that bothered about doing that? If you want to watch a movie with your friends, go to the sodding cinema, or invite them round to your house to watch a DVD or something. I can tell you it'll be a damnsight cheaper than a PS3. And then, we have the uber hyped Blue Ray, which promises to do a multitude of things for you, not least of which is play high definition DVDs. Sadly, however, hi-def is still the novelty of footballers wive's and the cult of scientology. I mean, when was the last time you went down to asda and even saw a high definition DVD? I sure as hell haven't seen any. So it would appear that Blue Ray's primary purpose is to play DVDs which are either non-existant, or so rare that you may as well go out looking for a rhino at the end of your street - you'd probably have better look finding one of those. Of course, I'm sure that in the non to distant future you'll be able to get all of your DVDs in hi-def, and all the Play Station groupies will point their fingers at me and say "Hah - look who's laughing now," but unfortunately for them I'll be too busy watching hi-def DVDs on one of those external hi-def DVD drives that you can get for the 360 now, which, even when added to the cost of a premium package 360, costs less than the PS3's projected launch price.
So, it would appear that the PS3 is being well and truely burried alive before it's even come out. Sony had just better hope that their super machine can do that trick that Uma Therman did in Kill Bill vol. 2, because I sure as hell ain't digging it out.

  • 35.
  • At 08:39 PM on 12 Mar 2007,
  • TearsInRain wrote:

Stephen Sweeney, calling Mass Effect a shallow shooter is just plain wrong. It is actually the only game so far that makes me want a 360. And this is because it promises to be a rather deep game, unlike most typical american games (you know, the stuff the xbox usually sees). And to all bashing LBP: Did you even bother watching the demonstration? It sure looks like fun. Yes, not worth the price for the ps3, but sure one big step into the right direction for Sony. Finally one more game more to justify my plans to get myself a PS3. ;-)

I don�t want to wait till the end of Summer :( , I want it now. Who with me?
save your time and join me. ;)


  • 37.
  • At 07:06 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • DevilSnake wrote:

The amount of Xbots on here is intolerable.

Although all console formats engage in their own virtual battles the individual consoles have their own fan base that will always buy sony or nintendo or microsoft and few swap over completely. I know many gamers of varying ages that now own two consoles such as a PS3 and an Xbox and never actually really compare them. The PC players seem to have the huge Warcraft world to keep them busy online so these battles for sales and new console owners still falls down to the individual choice and word of mouth with the gamers.

  • 39.
  • At 02:57 AM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Jay wrote:

"Erm, isn't this just Nintendo's Animal Crossing Wild World with flashy graphics?"

Yes. In an alternative reality in which ACWW is a completely different game.

Jeez, some people. Just download the 14 minute video from the GDC conference, THEN post your comments.

PS Nintendo have already admitted they are gutted they haven't got this, regardless of the fact that the Wii is not actually CAPABLE of handling it.

  • 40.
  • At 11:38 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • David wrote:

@ Peter (post #34):

"I'll be too busy watching hi-def DVDs on one of those external hi-def DVD drives that you can get for the 360 now"

Okay, but as HD has lost out to Blu-Ray (and will be extinct by the end of the year), you'll only have a very limited supply of movies to watch.

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