E3 2008: Little Big Planet Updated Impressions

We check out the many possibilities of playing, creating, and sharing in Media Molecule's upcoming game.

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Last year we kicked off our E3 preview of Little Big Planet with the simple phrase, "Little Big Planet is awesome." Here we are a year later and, after a killer appearance of the game at yesterday's Sony E3 2008 press conference, we're quite happy to report that, yes, the Media Molecule-developed Sony exclusive is still knocking our socks off. In addition to having the game on our live stage show, we got a chance to check out an extended preview session of the game hosted by Media Molecule's Alex Evans, in which we got a deeper look at this highly anticipated game.

Little Big Planet's subtitle "play, create, share" describes the three main tent posts on which the game is built. What's interesting is that the game pays attention to exactly how you play and will reward you for participating in its various aspects. Some players might want to focus on the play aspect of the game, making their way through the various levels that will come shipped with the game at release. Others might want to forgo the playing altogether, and instead choose to experiment with the game's extended creation tools. Finally, sharing your creations with the rest of the world will earn you rewards, too, either as in-game trophies, or as recognition from other LBP players who choose to download and play your levels.

Evans took us through several levels of the game, demonstrating a huge breadth of creativity from the developers at Media Molecule. First up was a traditional platforming level, one with a wintery theme that featured icy ramps that you could slide down, a mechanized dogsled that was powered by a rocket engine, and falling icicles that you had to dodge and then use as ledges to access higher areas of the level.

The platforming levels are likely to be tons of fun for fans, but what really fires us up are the more creative levels that use some of the new tools introduced today. For example, Evans introduced the audio tool, which will let you attach prerecorded audio samples to objects and then choose from a variety of criteria to determine when that sound is triggered and how it sounds when it plays. As an example, you might have a simple box to which you can attach the sound of a ninja yelling. In addition to being able to tweak the sound of the ninja's scream (slowing it down or speeding it up, for example), you can set when that sound is emitted, such as when your Sackboy character comes near, or when another object comes into contact with it.

Although this is a simple example, it can be taken to extremes. Evans showed off a Media Molecule demo level that featured a huge stack of boxes with attached audio samples, arranged to play in a very specific order as the player's Sackboy drove by in a cart. The result was a fascinating, sequenced musical piece that included full percussion and accompaniment. It was just another example of the kind of flexibility in the game's toolsets, the kind of creativity that seems to be limited only by the imagination (and the available free time) of the creator.

Some LBP players might want to focus mostly on playing the game, whereas others will want to spend their time creating things. Media Molecule recognizes these two very different approaches and is designing a path through each play style that will allow both kinds of players to be rewarded. For creators, there will be a series of levels that will consist of more than 60 focused tutorials, which end up at about two hours total of gameplay. This path will unlock the entirety of the tools you'll need to create anything you want in the game. However, if you're the "player" type and you make your way through the game's created levels, you'll not only unlock the same tools, but also a lot of prefabbed items that you can plop into your created worlds right away. Add to those tools things like the ability to create stickers from scratch by using the PlayStation Eye camera, and the results seem to be virtually unlimited.

Collaborative creation will let multiple players join in on the fun of creating levels and objects together. When creating with a friend, there will be a hover mode that will let you float through various parts of the screen to easily access things that you might have to climb to get to otherwise. For more complex objects, you'll see exactly how they are put together, including any behind-the-scenes wiring that makes an object work but isn't viewable when encountering the object in the played version of the level. In addition, players will be able to "copyright" their created objects, which will let them share it with other players but will also lock it so that those players won't be able to break down how the object works.

Once a level is created, you'll be able to tag it with a number of preset tags to better describe your level in preparation for uploading to the world. All of the content that is published online will be easily moderated by the community using some simple in-game tools. If you find something that bothers you, the first step will be to take a photo of the objectionable content, then explain why you find the content offensive with some handy preset tags, and then upload the photo, at which point the LBP community will check into it.

Thanks to some handy (and undoubtedly complex) behind-the-scenes code, the in-game community aspect of LBP seems to be rich and robust. In addition to the aforementioned tagging of levels, the game will let you keep track of your favorite levels and players in the game. You'll be able to tag your levels with a "heart" system that will let you tag levels as favorite and, over time, the game will present you with user content that is more attuned to your personal preferences. In addition, Evans said that the team hoped to have a Web version of the favorites system that would let you keep track of your favorite players and levels, and even check out who's been playing through the content that you've created.

Each time we see Little Big Planet, our smile seems to grow a bit wider. As we said in the beginning, the game is looking awesome, and there's better news ahead: A beta is in the works, which we hope to be playing in the near future. The final version of the game is due for release this October. We'll be bringing you much more coverage of the game in the near future, so stay tuned.

Discussion

100 comments
w0rmy
w0rmy

If this game doesn't win game of the year, I'll eat my hat. P.S. I picked up my PS3 today. Found one sealed in the box on Craigslist for $275! =)

JMAN320
JMAN320

I hope our ps3 community grows from this and home.I already have 3 ideas for levels.

kittykiller897
kittykiller897

Azianryda wishes he/she could afford a ps3. I hope someday you can escape the register at k-mart. ------------------------------------------------------- Anyway, now that hd-dvd is obsolete, i've been considering a ps3 but if this is the game everyone is so excited about... Hell, i'll just go log back on COD4 on my 360. Oh, on my Sony Bravia by the way.

CaptainLunchbox
CaptainLunchbox

This is why I'm getting a PS3. I just pre-ordered this game and I don't even have the console. I have never done that before.

howardorr
howardorr

The idea of creating a level and sharing it with people is great. Looking forward to this one.

azianryda
azianryda

Also to add to rant - a rebuttal to "this is not worth me getting a PS3 for": If you have money buy a PS3. If you have a career job and have money to deck out your dream condo with a dream home theartre, to match your dream luxury car, buy a PS3. It does many things that a regular HTPC can, and is not as clunky in your home theatre stand. You can justify the uses to your wife (if you are already at that stage in life) by saying "honey, I can stream you favorite movies/tv shows in HD!" OR "you can see Brad Pitt's rockin' bod in FULL HD from the Troy Blu-ray!" HOWEVER, If one is still working retail, has not finished school and has no idea how it feels to make 6 digits, and money is a consideration (thus leading them to believe the BRAVIA LCD tv is an overpriced piece of crap), I believe Microsoft's XBOX360 is a extremely viable option at $299 for the Pro system. And of course there are many games to choose from, of which there are many highly rated classics in the bargain bin. It is definitely a steal. *sigh* I hope one day this will settle the PS3 vs 360 debate/debacle. They are honestly both very good systems that serve different purposes and target different people in very different stages in their lives. *sigh squared* yes there are gamers over the age of 25 who do not exact the same amount of excitement from getting a headshot (as opposed to the pimply testorone overdriven tweens). These gamers are the kids who grew up with the original warcraft (yes warcraft before wow) and playing games on nintendo or a commodore64. These gamers now are making crap loads of money as ibankers, IT developers, engineers, lawyers, doctors etc, and have fallen in love with tech, all things google, iphones, and of course the PS3. However they do need games to stimulate their brain ever-so-slightly as they do want to retain some of their intellect, ingenuity and creativity to at least perform for the 6 digits that they are getting paid. After all it is those 6 digits that allowed them to justify (to their wives/girlfriends) spending 800 bucks at launch to get their beloved PS3s. LBP please come as soon as you can :)

azianryda
azianryda

I think this game is gonna be awesome! However there are those who might not get their head around it. Those who feel this game is gonna be a let down, are probably biased by the "typical" genres of games. They are the ones who feel MGS4, GTA4, COD4 (omg there are a lot of 4s), are "be all, end all" games. Don't get me wrong, these games all hold their own and bring something innovative and defining to their genre. However, IMHO, they are not games that are totally fresh as a whole. For those who are old enough to remember when Sid Meier first introduced Civilization on the scene, NOW THAT IS FRESH!!! I think LBP will do the same. Just like how I hope Spore will be as well (and pray it comes to PS3). The PS3 needs fresh games that will break the "that was totally sweet college frat boy I need a gun" genre. We need something to stimulate our minds and our imaginations. Give us original gamers that feeling again :) Let us feel like we are somewhat in control.

Dan2002sk8er
Dan2002sk8er

Jackyll87 - you obviously have no PS3, so you are trying to convince yourself it will be a bad game.

Jackyll87
Jackyll87

This is going to be a big letdown !

sunny_saad
sunny_saad

and why is that sharvie.........whts thr not to care..........its gona be sooo cool...man just imagine........wht cant u do with this game..........i think this will be the only game....of which we will never get bored....and for u scorch....thr is mgs4, gow3, resistance2 ....and so many other reasons for u to buy a ps3

Sharvie
Sharvie

I must be theonly person who doesn't care about this game. :?

Zoomer30
Zoomer30

I think all my creative juices will be used on Spore by then :)

scorch-62
scorch-62

Certainly sounds worth checking out, but not good enough to make me buy a PS3.

gmax
gmax

A game with a moderation mechanism... Great for those who find everything objectionable! Heh. Sounds like they're almost going for a Second Life type thing...

Little_Socrates
Little_Socrates

This is the only game this year that might be able to fight off MGS4 and GTA IV for Game of the Year...and I'm a Rock Band 2 fanboy!

lightgamet
lightgamet

Watch the recent videos in E3. They are realy awesome and show how you can create interesting (original) stuff. Like said so many times before, creativity is unlimitless here.

bill2510
bill2510

im getting this for sure it reminds me of the old super mario bros 1 and 3 days ;)

shinian
shinian

Day 1 buy for me. This will be also the reason to plug my PS3 to the web

ognen
ognen

too bad i don't own a ps3 :?

psp8976
psp8976

oh wow i am sssssssoooooooooooo getting this game ni bout about it

BZSIN
BZSIN

I fell in love with this game the moment I saw it last year, and every time I see it I love it more and more. A true gamer's game. Roll on October.

D-Camo
D-Camo

LBP is going to kick everyones socks off when it is inside the PS3 consoles worldwide. The Sony presentation created with LBP was awesome showing the the versatile and wide array of customization which are available to us. September 2008. Cant wait for it.

FlashCharge
FlashCharge

This sounds like one interesting game that allows a gamer's creativity. Thats AWESOME!

gamer4life2OO8
gamer4life2OO8

The way Sony presented Little Big Planet at their press conference was way cool!

Zee666
Zee666

with some of the other stuff sony's bringing out the ps3 seems to have found it's footing.... finally.

quirky_clayboy
quirky_clayboy

When I first heard about the game I was a bit under whelmed - not a big platform fan - but after reading about how extensive the creative tools seem... I've got to say that this is probably the game I'm most looking forward to for 2008.

whiteboyyy
whiteboyyy

I wonder what the review rating for this game would be? It should be over 9.0.

BRAWLL
BRAWLL

im most interested in the HOME capabilities of this game

Reeku
Reeku

This game sounds great! Can't wait till it ships! :D

burstlimit514
burstlimit514

my sister who only plays final fantasy is actually going to go half with me on this game! This lets u know its going to be great.

Gamerdude599
Gamerdude599

It just keeps getting better and better!

programexpert
programexpert

Might show some people that blood and guts isn't ALWAYS the solution, no matter how good it can be. LBP oozes awesomeness from its every pores! I'll be getting this game the day it ships, and would love to see a Collector's Edition.

klarfis
klarfis

Hey Darth...why don't you think before you write? ok, ok, now I KNOW why not. :)

Darth_Xehanort
Darth_Xehanort

Man, this is yet another awesome, killer exclusive for the PS3. Anyone who doesn't have one will miss out on all the greatest gaming experiences.

williamjones
williamjones

I might get this game. It looks fun and creative.

joseph_mach
joseph_mach

Instant Classic written all over it.

Macgyver40
Macgyver40

I am not sure about this game but i will keep my eye on it

foxy1990
foxy1990

this game looks amazing, cant wait for it! the creative side will be never ending .... youtube will be taken over by videos of cool levels lol

padejace
padejace

Waaouw that is really impressive ! Finally something different than the FPS ...