E3 '07: LittleBigPlanet Updated Hands-On -- Building Your World

We get a closer look at the flexible creation tools in this amazing game from Media Molecule.

Please allow us a moment of editorializing before we get to the meat of this preview: LittleBigPlanet is awesome. There--now that we've got that out of our system, we can move on and try to describe what developer Media Molecule was showing off of their fascinating adventure/creation game here at E3 2007. The demo presented at the Sony media HQ showed off a number of different aspects of LBP that look to comprise a game that is both big on charm and fully dedicated to making each player's experience unique.

Let's start with the main characters, affectionately dubbed as "Sackboy" (or "Sackgirl") by Media Molecule developers; they're tiny little creatures that are able to run around the world's horizontally scrolling levels of the game, overcoming obstacles as they go. Using the Sixaxis controller, you're able to move your Sackboy around through the levels, jump by pressing the X button, or grab onto items (or other Sackfolks) by pressing the R1 trigger. Holding down either the R2 or L2 trigger and moving the analog sticks will let you articulate Sackboy's limbs (or throw a slap at one of the other players in the level with you), and you can even change Sackboy's facial expression by pressing in different directions on the D pad. Simple controls combine with cute design to make Sackboys adorable right from the get-go.

Click to enlarge!

By default, Sackboy is made out of a drab, brown burlap material, but you'll have tons of ways to customize your personal Sackboy on the fly. By pressing the square button you bring up a menu where you can choose from different heads, body materials, and accessories. With just a few clicks of the X button, we were able to outfit our Sackboy with a fancy top hat, a superhero cape, a dandy Wyatt Earp moustache, and a pirate's hook hand. Anyone playing the game with you--and the game will support up to four players either online or offline at any given time--will be able to customize their Sackfolk with similar ease and variety.

But this is quite literally just scratching the surface of the amount of depth found in LBP's customization. The next level comes with stickers and a host of different shapes and colors, which are available also by pressing the square button and going to a menu. Stickers can be stamped on any existing object in the world, and it's as easy as moving the template sticker where you like and pressing the X button. You can place as many as you like in the world, and the game is smart enough to have stickers wrap around 3D objects in an intelligent manner.

In addition to slapping stickers wherever you like, you'll also be able to create objects from thin air in LBP, using a simple tool that the developer has been refining since it debuted the game at the 2007 Game Developers Conference. Now, summoning an object from nowhere is as simple as, once again, going to the build menu by pressing the square button, selecting the item you want, and stamping it into the world. You can stamp an item as many times as you like and, once you press the square button again, your summoned items will appear--if you've created them in thin air, they will fall to the ground, demonstrating the game's intensive physics engine. The E3 demo of the game featured a good number of items to create including spongelike squares, woven bowls, and chili peppers as well as a huge host of simple objects made of metal, wood, and various cloth materials. Developers are promising many more shapes and objects to build with in the final build of the game, as well as downloadable content in the future.

These simple objects can easily turn into quite complex ones with the help of some simple helper parts and tools that greatly expand the depth of creation in the game. For instance, creating an object on the outside edge of another will cause them to merge when you finish their summoning, resulting in a shape that is the combined result of the two basic forms. As an example, the two Media Molecule developers quickly created a wooden snowman-like construct using only resized circles--you can resize and twist shapes in the world before you summon them by manipulating the right stick.

Other tools in the game include a simple bolt that will help you mechanically attach one object to another, glue splats you can place in order to stick two parts together, and cogs which add movement to your object. To demonstrate, the developers created a working wooden tank from several precut wooden shapes and what looked to be yarn spools. After gluing the main part of the tank's body together, the developers attached bolts to the yarn spools and then stuck those on the tank body to create a working tread. It's important to note that multiple players can work on the same object (or create separately) at the same time in LBP--indeed, both developers were busy constructing their own individual parts of the vehicle. The whole process took maybe two minutes and, after it was done, the two Sackboys were able to ride on the rolling tank; they even added some decorative stickers for added flair.

Another cool tool at your disposal is a "cut" tool that will let you remove sections of any object in the game. The cut tool comes in several shapes--square, circle, and triangle--and just like a "real" object, you can manipulate the size of a cut shape in order to remove exactly what you want. An easy example of the cut tool was a huge wooden block, which the developers sliced sections from in order to create a makeshift staircase the Sackboys could then climb to progress through the level. In our experimentation, we noticed that when cutting a hole in the middle of a fabric object, the game will intelligently "stitch" the remaining fabric around the new hole.

So what do you use all of this customization for? The easy answer is just to mess around and have a good time. The more compelling answer is to create objects you can share with your friends. Any object you create can be sent to a friend, who can then add on or subtract from it, and send it on to someone else, essentially creating an endless cycle of creativity as the object moves around from player to player. Developers showed off a couple of examples of objects created by Media Molecule staff simply using the shapes and tools found in the demo build--standout examples included a huge lumbering, mechanical dinosaur, and an absolutely mind-blowing binary adding machine made out of wood.

Click to enlarge!

Beyond exercising your creative juices on objects, the larger goal for the create tools in LBP are to create entirely new levels that will complement the game's already premade levels. By stacking levels with created objects--levers, pulleys, obstacles to transverse, even a makeshift skateboard like the one shown in the GDC demo--you can create entirely new levels in the game and share them with others. LBP players worldwide will be able to rate your levels or objects, so the more skill you show with your creations, the more recognition you can earn from your adoring public. In addition to all of the different objects, you'll be able to swap new backgrounds in the game, The demo showed off a tranquil Japanese garden, a spooky cemetery, and a dusty desert setting complete with the dried skull of a bull in the background. According to producers, levels will come in different sizes depending on the size of the background. In addition, there will be some limitations to the amount of objects that can be present in the level at any given moment as well as the size of the object. In the latter case, however, the restrictions don't seem to be that bad--the developers showed off an absolutely massive tower built of metal squares that loomed over the tiny Sackboys.

With a game as open-ended as this, it's scary to think where LittleBigPlanet will be in roughly a year, which is the tentative release window. With that much time to pack content, shapes, tools, and new levels into the game, LittleBigPlanet looks well on its way to being one of the standout games on the PlayStation 3. It's a long wait until next year, but we'll be keeping you up to date on all the latest on the game in the coming months, so stay tuned.

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Discussion

227 comments
Ky0z
Ky0z

Man this game just keeps getting better and better... can't wait to see what they'll show in E3 2008

Weapon_XE
Weapon_XE

this game looks great! even more reason to buy ps3 and leave the other 2 systems to collect dust on my shelve.

Mr_KMG
Mr_KMG

sony isn't making the game their publishing it and also I don't see animal crossing with this much freedom

wiirdawgs
wiirdawgs

looks like a rip off of animal crossing typical sony stealing ideas from other companies

sony_chick
sony_chick

this awesome game wont port on the 360 because the disc size on ps3 is 50 gb and they are trying to fill it right up.....the 360 dosent have 50 gb only blu ray can handle this sick game!!!!

mccloskey-14
mccloskey-14

I hope the beta will include alot of detail and will hit the network before christmas

god13g
god13g

im happy that i own a ps3 :D

neithermanc1
neithermanc1

Looks awesome... possibly awesome enough to finally get me to buy a PS3.

shariq7
shariq7

wow i saw this the 1st time at GDC and it looked COOL!!!!!!!!! now i look at it an it looks............AAAAAWWWWSSSSSSSOOOOMMMM I CANT WAIT TO GET IT

maxxehdood
maxxehdood

I hate how cute looking things have to be for little ones..katamari is one of my favorite games, with so much humour and generally great ideas/details that make it for any age group. But it's the most 'cute-looking' game I've played. That just adds to the fun feel! This is not just a kids game by any means! Its for having fun! If you have played media molecule's ragdoll kungfu, you will see the kind of humour and style the team work with! I'm betting there will be loads of things adults and teenagers will appreciate, while kids won't. Although I hope even younger ages can pick it up and show off that damn creativity I lost years ago! ^_^ Inuosha, Halo is the most over-rated game I have ever played. If you like shooters, play one on a PC. I just don't understand the hype :D

cifru
cifru

Wow it looks funny, and i would enjoy playing it. It's good to see a great game even for the little ones.

goinpsycoagain
goinpsycoagain

SOOOOOOOOOOOO STOKED!!!! hahah i agree with maxxehdood, i miss my inner-child creativity. This game will bring it back in all of us. :-)

Floms
Floms

Looks like a very funny game

Inuosha
Inuosha

It sounds like a fun game, but I don't think I'll put out $500 for a ps3 just to buy the game... I will just buy an xbox 360 and play halo

Wilby7
Wilby7

@ KnGGnK Both. They'll start with a psn version probably late this year, and when the full release comes next year, it will be on bluray.

Esteban011487
Esteban011487

This is a great game!. Nice work Sony!!!. Finally you got your selft something nice and cute!.

KnGGnK
KnGGnK

i wonder if its going to be a bluray or downloadable on the network but still this game sounds amazing

kairoyurei
kairoyurei

Cool! Finally, a real interactive game that has a great new environment that actually makes me think and use my imagination...or be limited only by it...Guess, I might just be buying a ps3 after all....:P

godhatch
godhatch

maxxehdood i couldn't agree with you more, it's sad when people complain about actually having to make something and actually use the power of the brain. i showed this to a mate of mine the other day and he was amazed, we sat through a couple of trailers for this and were constantly throwing different ideas on what we could make and build and how amazing it's going to be when we can actually run around the level we have made from scratch. basically i can't wait for this game.

maxxehdood
maxxehdood

Apparently I'm not allowed to use paragraphs..

maxxehdood
maxxehdood

What the ****!? What's wrong with some of you? 'Oh god I have to make things myself? devs dont do it all for me? there's no shooting with a story? damn this sucks!' You remeber lego? toy cars? action figures? I remember when I was younger using my imagination to play with these things, build my own little world where anything I wanted happened. This game is all about imagination..Build anything you want and play with it! Share it with your friends, and have 8 of you running around your own world. No its not garrys mod..You cant import your own stupid amount of user made pictures in that, you can't create things out of blocks to form anything you can imagine..You just use pre made barriers to place in the most awkward way possible to build porn sets for hl2 characters! 'lol look alyx is gettin it from two combine!! haha!' Guys..if you dont understand why people are giving you an awesome sandbox game that is made to fuel your imagination like this, I dont know what the hell your doing with your lives..Are you just office drones? Or manual labour chavs? ..Jesus.. Learn to think a little. Myself, I can't wait for this game, and I'll be spending hours on it with my mates having a hell of a laugh.. They've stated that they're not going to stop making content until the bluray is full..how many devs say that? It's looking great and It looks like it plays great too.. Much more worth my money and time than 90% of the half assed stuff publishers are pushing out to the brainless gun-and-explosion driven masses to porting on every system possible.

themidgethotel
themidgethotel

So it's basically Garry's Mod for PS3? Pfft... I'd rather spend ten bucks :|

Lorde_Whorlea
Lorde_Whorlea

This is the one reason I'm getting a PS3... Although my 360 is awesome it doesn't have this...unfortunately...

junk56
junk56

ive seen a lot of games and services try to reenact the success of facebook, youtube, myspace and those things but i believe THIS is the game that will bring gamers together like never before im afraid to say this but it looks like i will have a lot more fun playing this than super smash bros.

WinterSlodier
WinterSlodier

it sounds like a really fun arcade game not a 60$ ps3 mega-hit but maybe theres something I don't get.

penuin3
penuin3

This could be the killer app that appeals to the wide audience that the PS3 needs. While I need to hear more, I think this will be a fun game.

LordLeckie
LordLeckie

righttttt and the point of the game is? the goal? objective? anything? think ill avoid this one till i know what the hell the point is.

Felaipes
Felaipes

this game sure looks great, but i still don't get it ...just create things?? nothing else besides that?? can u use that tank or is it just for show...?? well..time will tell 8/

TTDog
TTDog

@goinpsycoagain.... you mean like Motorstorm, that came out with only half the game modes, and a tiny little range of tracks, compared to any decent racer? Its not as if they're breaking any new ground here with graphics or physics, 2 years down the line and a simple little thing like this is still a year away from release... and people wonder why others are sick of Sony's "Just you wait...." game strategy. You certainly can't accuse Sony of rushing games out, or even getting games out, this time round... much more interested in forcing unwanted disk players on consumers to worry about getting games out.

goinpsycoagain
goinpsycoagain

I am going to waste SOOOO much time one this game. And the point is to mess around with some sweet physics. Its like a cooperative creative sandbox of fun and goodness! P.S. TTDog. If great games like this were rushed they'd end up like.... well..... Xbox games. :-P

daelakk
daelakk

@xElite_GameRx : From what ive read, the PS3 is easier to make games for than the 360, atleast for EA... they said that it was easier for them to port games from the ps3 to the 360, so either its easier to make games on the ps3 or just easier to port, im not sure, but i think that both systems are a bit of a challenge because of the advanced hardware. but what the heck do i know, im not a game developer. so dont even bother listening to me :P

FluffyMuffinMan
FluffyMuffinMan

I really don't see what's the whole hype about this game, it seems like a nice party game or something.. a toyish thing to play on when bored, but I can't see myself playing this for too long. It just seems pointless, but oh well. At least the rest of the games that we had updates about so far in this E3 are kickass.

Groovay_Dude
Groovay_Dude

I know what Garrys mod is-_- I think most people who own HL do: P

xElite_GameRx
xElite_GameRx

your right it is very similar to garry's mod, but nobody here would know what garry's mod is because they mostly play terrible games (zelda). It's more difficult to make a good quality game on PS3 then the competition. It takes more time because the PS3 is so advanced and its a complicated process for developers, but this game is confirmed for later this year and should hold off gamers for a long time or at least until metal gear solid.

TTDog
TTDog

@wjmarszal: Don't know about you but when I buy a games console I want to play games on it, not have it sitting collecting dust why I'm shown a bunch of games and trailers for stuff thats still a year away, I want to see what's coming in the next 6 months. If they want to show off whats coming in 2008/9 there are plenty of other events they can do that at, E3 this year was much more of showing whats coming in the next few months, except for Sony who continued to hype up titles that are still a good 6-9 months away. LBP was announced ages ago, its been on every Sony fans wish list since the November launch and its still a year away, surely the Cell can't be that hard to develop for?

Tuchaka
Tuchaka

i dont get it, wats the point of the game, like what are you supposed to do, just make things?

wjmarszal
wjmarszal

well TTdog, if video companies rushed themsleves just so they could release a game now, the game would probobly not be that great. Are you saying you would rather not hear about these cool upcoming games and just hear about games that are coming out next month?

daleaf111
daleaf111

This is the game that will make the PS3!! Its a game for all ages and will be like nothing we have ever played before Bring it on!!

TTDog
TTDog

This is one of the annoying things about the PS3 and Sony, they show all these titles that grab your attention and then say that its a year away from release... People don't want to wait a year, they want games now.

PenalJester
PenalJester

Its like Garry's Mod But 2-D and little sack people.

taylorfam
taylorfam

i am going to buy a ps3 because of this game. it is worth 560 bucks. not reaaly, but it is the reason im gonna go actually get a ps3

taylorfam
taylorfam

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

goinpsycoagain
goinpsycoagain

I have been waiting for this game to come out since it first poked its head out with the first clip and a few pictures. I was IN LOVE, i have watched EVERY video religiously and can not wait but I have a question for the developers or even anyone that may know. I was hoping it would be answered in one of the gamespot interviews at E3 but sadly it did not come up. Will there be anything that the Sack People will need to try to avoid? ie. Holes, Baddies, or even a Huge fall? Anything that may knock out my sack guy for a few seconds or leave him incapacitated?

foxbait95
foxbait95

inovation at its best , along with eye of judgment i'd say.

ps3ruler
ps3ruler

This game looks unbelievable. Creative. Spunky design. A must have for sure. The Wii's little wannabe sims ain't got nothing on this.