Develop 08: Media Molecule on LittleBig challenges

Indie studio head Alex Evans reveals some of the hurdles to developing the PS3's LittleBigPlanet.

by

BRIGHTON--Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet is due to come out exclusively on the PlayStation 3 in October. The game, which company cofounder Alex Evans describes as the combination of "games and pop culture into an online community-based game," has piqued the interest of many in the industry. It is being developed by a team founded by former members of Bullfrog and Lionhead Studios, including Mark Healey, Dave Smith, Kareem Ettouney, and Evans himself.

At Develop 2008, Evans presented a session that he described to the audience as "half postmortem, half me waving my arms around hoping one of you will come up with a better idea." During the hour-long session, he reflected on the development of LittleBigPlanet to date, as well as his previous experiences at Lionhead Studios and Bullfrog, and offered some advice to other developers in the room.

Evans was quite candid about the game's development process. He said, "We're making all the mistakes that Bullfrog and Lionhead did," and he highlighted some of the common pitfalls. "A huge amount of effort in games development is wasted in what I would call the wrong place." This is what he referred to as glue in between two bits of code--the enjoyment for a gamer might be something completely different from what a programmer is working on, but Evans said that some are busy building the glue without actually knowing what they're joining together.

If you choose the right constraints, stripping back a game (for example to 2D) is acceptable, Evans said, although he doesn't always practice what he preaches. "I know this and yet daily I try and add features. I want the game to be 3D." Despite this, Evan said "you can make great levels in 2D that look next-gen," and in the end the team compromised on what he called "deep 2D levels."

"Especially for programmers, don't let yourself expend any effort when at the back of your mind you don't know what you're doing." It's something he said he's learnt the hard way: "At least for me, it has been the most incredibly, incredibly hard process."

The team at Media Molecule consists of a mere nine coders in total (including Evans, who doesn't code much from day to day). It's not by chance that the team's resources are limited. "We're not very good managers," Evans confessed, and he said the size is an arbitrary constraint they've placed on the company.

The studio head was asked by an audience member how he might cope with a lack of constraints, following the release of his first game. "What I'm looking forward to is keeping some of those constraints quite arbitrary, like, for example, keeping our company size 30 people," Evans responded. "If I do change, I want to change slowly. If we grow to 100 people, I want it to be an incremental process."

Despite the pitfalls and perils, Evans also talked about his passion for developing games. "Why is my experience of making games with friends the same as it was 10 years ago?" He said one of the reasons is that the people making games with him haven't changed. "We're still a room of boys and girls at 2:00 in the morning with a dev kit. We're still making the same things as we did 10 years ago. We just have the opportunity to get it out to a wider audience."

Discussion

78 comments
Razzi65
Razzi65

im-a-roustabout ::::: hey dear.. its like an action,adventure game but main theme is that u can CREAT then SHARE & PLAY it.. even sony has announced abt selling ur level...

shamba22
shamba22

lol ive already pre-ordered this

MC_Raptor
MC_Raptor

Just look at my avatar! LBP will be awsome!

Incubus420
Incubus420

"Learnt the hard way huh?" Sounds like Evan is a Straight "G"

preplook
preplook

im a 360 guy... mostly because it came out before ps3... but im happy with it... it does suck having to worry about it messing up... but it hasnt for 3 years so i think im good... i love all the games for it.... always sumthing to look forward to... BUT... i would buy a ps3 just for this game (if i had the money)... i love building things... i spend more time on forge when i play halo than i do the game... i love the original idea... i hope we'll be seeing alot more games with new ideas like this...

acsam12304
acsam12304

condemned100 said:You can always count on Sony with they're PS3 because it will never break down on you. Microsoft i'm not so sure with they're Xbox 360. Red ring of death anyone.? I got the red ring of death for the third time after turning on my Xbox 360 in Months. I have a broken Xbox 360 that won't turn on anymore a Launch bulky PS2. And I want a PS3. for Heavy Rain, Metal gear solid 4, Little Big Planet, and Resistance 1 and 2. What good is all those great Exclusives from Microsoft for Xbox 360 if the Hardware is not Cooperating and breaks down on you constantly?. With PS3 you don't have to worry about your PS3 breaking down on you ever. The only thing is you have to wait for more great exclusive games for the PS3. And thats ok because Sony delivers all the time and they are Trustworthy with they're Hardware I take waiting for more PS3 Exclusives over Xbox 360 messing up or breaking down on you Anytime. Long story short the Xbox 360 has more weaknesses then the PS3 And the Xbox 360 was released in 2005 and the PS3 in 2006 (I know people know that i'm just saying an example). PS3 works fine and came out a year later after Xbox 360. While your Xbox 360 breaks down on you and came out a year earlier then PS3. Amazing. Just Unbelievable. I say. Your so right it never brakes down on you i love my PS3. only thing tho it heats up so much lol it make my room so hot lol.. does anyone know a cooler for the PS3? send me a message on here dont post it up on here it will be way off topic and dont want to mess it up

acsam12304
acsam12304

Well a lot of people saying this game is over hyped. Tell you the truth it might be but guess what it is well worth it. it a diffrent game and a new kinda of game that we haven't seen in a while If you want to talk about over hyped games lets talk about Halo being the #1 over hyped game ever in gaming history.

robbieboyd11078
robbieboyd11078

who else is on a countdown to october then? wonder how many 360 fnboys will say its crap, in jelousy of something original

men-o-war
men-o-war

Original ideas are hard to come by these days. At last something that isn't another damned FPS!!!!! I'm one proud PS3 owner.

foggy08
foggy08

october baby can't wait

burstlimit514
burstlimit514

for a team that is struggling just a bit they are doing pretty well. say something negative about this game say something!

rukus5
rukus5

"with all the hype this game is generating, it is considered by many people to be PS3's second killer app along with MGS4." exactly, SECOND, that's it. at least when it's finally worth it to own a PS3 with they have as many killer exclusives as the 360, it'll probably be a lot cheaper.

K-Grogg
K-Grogg

This game is going to make me finally be REALLY proud PS3 owner, it just looks so awesome, I have so many insane ideas to put to the test already. :D

leimeisei
leimeisei

with all the hype this game is generating, it is considered by many people to be PS3's second killer app along with MGS4. The reason I state this is because he mentions Media Molecule hardly has any people working for them. It obviously isn't a problem for them. if they needed a hundred more people, sony would pump whatever cash it took because its such a highly anticipated title.

stormer454
stormer454

Hey if it takes time its fine i cant wait for this game to come out but if i have to wait for it to be even better then i can do that cuz it will pay off

StanBlocker
StanBlocker

"half postmortem" Any postmortem would mean is finished. So entering the marketing phase then is it. Not that it really needs it due to it being sold at GDC way back in 07. Hope there is a special creators edition with plush Sackboy and 'how to build a ...' cards.

devilscry
devilscry

you guys just take whatever time you need to make this game great. one of my Most Anticipated games of 08 right here.

condemned100
condemned100

You can always count on Sony with they're PS3 because it will never break down on you. Microsoft i'm not so sure with they're Xbox 360. Red ring of death anyone.? I got the red ring of death for the third time after turning on my Xbox 360 in Months. I have a broken Xbox 360 that won't turn on anymore a Launch bulky PS2. And I want a PS3. :) for Heavy Rain, Metal gear solid 4, Little Big Planet, and Resistance 1 and 2. What good is all those great Exclusives from Microsoft for Xbox 360 if the Hardware is not Cooperating and breaks down on you constantly?. With PS3 you don't have to worry about your PS3 breaking down on you ever. The only thing is you have to wait for more great exclusive games for the PS3. And thats ok because Sony delivers all the time and they are Trustworthy with they're Hardware I take waiting for more PS3 Exclusives over Xbox 360 messing up or breaking down on you Anytime. Long story short the Xbox 360 has more weaknesses then the PS3 And the Xbox 360 was released in 2005 and the PS3 in 2006 (I know people know that i'm just saying an example). PS3 works fine and came out a year later after Xbox 360. While your Xbox 360 breaks down on you and came out a year earlier then PS3. Amazing. Just Unbelievable.

micmill
micmill

CANNOT WAIT TILL THIS GAME COMES OUT!!!

atrimus
atrimus

i think it would behoove Sony to make Media Molecule an in-house studio. can't wait for the game!

REBEL2100x
REBEL2100x

@ Flackstone lmao, I remember saying crap like this back when I had the Xblows. But after 3 xblows exchanged (thanks to RROD) I deccided to get the MGS4 bundle PS3. Ive been happy ever since.

SaintAjora
SaintAjora

Go Sackboy, it's your birthday! ;D

lamprey263
lamprey263

I can't wait for this game, I've been excited for it since I first downloaded the gameplay video off PSN many many many months ago. I can't wait to build/share my own levels.

condemned100
condemned100

Sackboy looks fluffy and small and adorable. :)

glitch2424
glitch2424

I love and admire how Evans is making LBP because he loves doing it: he programs and works jst as he used to do b4 working for a big company like Sony. LBP is made by only 30 ppl, yet it's one of the best games around; that's amazing.

LOGGER13
LOGGER13

The concept of this game could really take off. Developing a game where users can develop their own levels quickly and easily whilst sharing them with others. I wouldn't be surprised if all of the employees of this small company become millionaires overnight after its release.

hawaiiinsomniac
hawaiiinsomniac

Whooo hooo! I will buy this along with the new 80GB PS3 for $399! :)

REBEL2100x
REBEL2100x

@ Sykalob Dont post here you RROD fanboy.

playmemike01
playmemike01

This game looks amazing and it will be the next big thing. Im very intrigued to know hoe it works though and when I'm gonna get my hands on it.

sykalob
sykalob

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

sykalob
sykalob

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

im-a-roustabout
im-a-roustabout

I just don't know what the heck this game is supposed to be.....like what is littlebigplanet? A rpg? etc.... i don't quite understand what your supposed to do in this game.

Blue_Heeler
Blue_Heeler

I already have a couple levels planned out in my head...this game is going to destroy my MMO playing....which is probably a good thing.

SyrusKahn
SyrusKahn

if i didn't already spend my income on every ps3 title that came out... i'd probably get this.. who knows though, i might put in some OT just to get this game...

artson1966
artson1966

This is a game that will really push Home if it ever comes out to retail. Think of it as a gate way to showcase your user made levels. and invite people to take a spin in your work. This is such a creative genre that will offer something for every member of the family. Too top it off it's a PS3 exsclusive. I see many consoles being sold ust for this game alone. who said thier wasnt a santa cluas?

bigmouthkid
bigmouthkid

I can't wait to get this game. It's a must buy for all PS3 owners.

Viral-venom13
Viral-venom13

Hmmm, its cool to see others play what you've spent countless hours of the year crafting but based on what Evans said i guess game development really does have its many cons to it that can really bring on some serious fatigue and stress levels!!

Blazius2
Blazius2

So, what's the average amount of people in a company size?

PhazonBlazer
PhazonBlazer

this will be one of the 1st games I get when I get a PS3

aDhAmMe13
aDhAmMe13

man i can't wait for this game...the chances of what you can create are practically infinite.

mikewalsh69
mikewalsh69

i'm so excited about this game. i love the ability to create levels. and the first thing i'm gonna build: a 10000foot ramp and have the sackmen go down it on a skateboard and see where the land.

Holdwick
Holdwick

I think this cool but come on, PS3 is so much better than this. MGS 4 blows this outta the water. I don't understand the hype I mean it's cool but there are a lot of other cooler games, I expect a lot of people to be disappointed by this.

Dante9916
Dante9916

We shall see.I think this is the game that brings ps3 to peoples..