LittleBigPlanet, developed by Media Molecule, is hands down the exclusive game of the year for the PlayStation 3. This game stole the entire show for me as it was the lone title I went in excited to not only play, but to grab a closed door session with. The behind the scenes demonstration was conducted by technical director Alex Evans. I had the privilege of sitting next to N’Gai Croal for this full hour of Sackboy fun, so you could imagine how much Sony fanboyism was flooding over the room from the first row with the two of us combined.
Evans began the demonstration by jumping into user-created levels, which resulted in him explaining how the level 'world' truly operates. LBP will feature a full 360 degree world that you can traverse in order to find the level or map you’d like to play. When you find a level, you can actually see if anybody else is playing that particular level as well. A question that popped up was, “Does this mean if we play a level online with someone already in it, they’ll be there too?” To be honest, Evans never clearly answered the question, so I’m not 100% sure if you’ll be able to play a level with only your friends or if you'll be forced to peruse the world with other users that you don’t know. I imagine both will be potential possibilities.
The community universe that Evans showed us was actually very much like a YouTube subscriber’s profile. You’re able to ‘heart’ certain maps which will save them to your favorites. The system is set up so that as you begin to heart levels, the software will be able to take the specifics within the levels and create recommendations from other users that may be offering similarly styled worlds. This will make it far easier to find more maps that you’ll enjoy rather than trudging through creation after creation to find one that you'll actually be glad you stepped into. While I’m on the subject, you’ll also be given 'activity levels' for everything you do. So, if you’re a guy who plays levels that nobody else has tried yet, you may be known as an “explorer."
Within this community aspect, you’ll actually have the chance to search for levels that have yet to be explored, levels that have been hearted the most and so on. You’ll also be able to tag levels with keywords. It is through these abilities that you’ll be able to get the most out of your LBP experience. From what we were shown, it should work pretty well.
To continue on the path of community-driven content, I’d like to discuss some of the cooler aspects of actually creating your own levels. Evans mentioned to us that some genius had created a level with nothing but boxes running along the floor. Each box had a certain sound effect equipped to it that would take effect when the box was weighted down. A vehicle was placed at the beginning of the level that your Sackboy would hop in to and ride to the very end. Of course, by now you’ve figured out what makes that so cool - the boxes actually played a tune as you rode through the level. Slowing or speeding up the vehicle allowed you to change the tempo of the song. It's been said so many times but I'll say it again - the possibilities within LittleBigPlanet are endless.
After this explanation, Evans dove into the level creator and showed how easy it was to set up these boxes with triggered sound effects. He also demonstrated how easy it was to set them on fire, which in turn lit his Sackboy ablaze. Poor Sackboy. For those of you who are artistically challenged like myself, you’ll be able to use other people’s creations within your world, as long as they’re not copyrighted that is. Within the level creator pop-up menu, there is a section of user-created content where you can sift through pre-made vehicles, trees, gadgets and so on. The ones within the demo had all been uploaded by beta users who allowed other users to utilize them. Creationists will have the option to upload these for the community either with ... (continued on next page)
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