LittleBigPlanet Create Hands-On

We played LittleBigPlanet's Create mode for the first time recently, while the game's designers sat alongside to help. We grabbed a Sixaxis and let our creative juices flow.

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Between the E3 Media & Business Summit, Game Developers Conference, Consumer Electronics Show, and the exclusive preview we attended recently, we've certainly spent a lot of time with LittleBigPlanet. The game has a lot of potential, and judging by the number of times it's been shown off by its publisher, it's a big deal for Sony. Despite this heavy amount of playtime, developer Media Molecule has never actually let us create something in LittleBigPlanet--something of a large omission given the game's tagline, "explore, create, share." We've seen the developers creating things in previous encounters, but they've never unlocked the toolbox for us to build something ourselves. But with the game recently entering alpha and momentum building toward its October release, Sony invited us to a central London location for an extended creative session with the game. Pitting us against other journalists from around the world, we took the opportunity to flex our creative muscles while talking to the developers about the game.

The poppet system ties the creation toolbox to individual players to stop things getting complicated.

The guiding principle behind LittleBigPlanet's creation toolset is that it should be powerful enough to let you re-create anything that you see in the game, while remaining simple and accessible enough for people to operate with the Sixaxis or Dual Shock 3 controllers, without the need for a manual. The result is the poppet--a small bubble that can be accessed by pressing square while creating a level. This brings up all the objects that you can drop into the world--a small list to begin with, but one that grows as you unlock items through the Play part of the game.

Media Molecule's Mark Healey and Alex Evans explained that while it may take you some time to create levels as intricate as their own, they expect to be matched, if not beaten, by players in the long term. And while it's traditional for only a small number of users to create things, they hope that a higher proportion of people than normal will build and share with the community thanks to the simplicity of the tools on offer. While many will be content with building a ramp with a "LOLZ" sticker on it, there are lots of possibilities for creating levels outside of the traditional left-to-right platformer model.

By way of example, Mark and Alex showed how one of their designers built a skipping minigame. The level was set up with a simple challenge for players--to survive the accelerating rotations of the rope by jumping and remaining on the platform. As the rope moved quicker, players had to perform smaller jumps in order to return to the ground before the next rotation. It was a deceivingly simple level to build, and although some of the physics may have been difficult to work out, the Media Molecule guys explained that the hinges for the rope were arranged in a similar way to building vehicles in the game.

Shortly after our look at what the designers could create, it was time for us to start building. We got into small groups, each with a member of Media Molecule to guide us, and were unleashed with everything the creation tools had to offer. The full game will ship with video tutorials to help you learn the system. These are meant to make it as simple for you as it was for us, with one of the game's designers sat next to us. Practically every object was opened up to us from the start, too, allowing us to see all the items that were available for unlocking. With so many on offer, it was good to see that you can put certain objects in a favourites menu, and that you can also give certain items to other players for finishing one of your user-created levels.

It's easy to make objects into different shapes and sizes, while the physics system is based around real-world principles.

Dropping elements into LittleBigPlanet is a simple process of opening the poppet and choosing the object you want to use. Each level operates on three planes, so designers need to think about whether players can simply pop in and out of the foreground or background to pass by any obstacles that you place. Obviously, testing out your creations will be half of the building process, as you don't want people to get stuck with no way to get to the end of the level. To preempt this problem, Media Molecule have enforced regular respawn points into user-generated levels, so that players can always get out of a situation they become trapped in. If you ever do get stuck in LittleBigPlanet, then the game has one of the funniest suicide animations we've ever seen, with your character holding its breath until it explodes.

Through playing around with the game and speaking to Media Molecule, we were able to learn a lot of new facts about what we can expect from the finished product. One of the coolest new features was being able to use the PlayStation Eye camera to create custom stickers to place on objects, using photos of faces, words, or any other designs that can be held before a camera. For many people on our press day, the first inclination was to take a picture of their face and slap it onto one of the walls, but there are other more creative ways of using the feature. Grabbing a pen and paper, we were able to write "Hello mum," and get it into the game. Using the same technique, you'll be able to place tips, secrets, or even narratives into your levels.

One of the big new features is being able to use the PlayStation Eye camera to stick pictures of yourself to objects in the game.

Once saved, your creations are stored on the PlayStation hard drive and represented in-game by the LittleBigMoon, a satellite of the main planet itself, where pictures of your creations are shown in the craters. The only limitation is the 70 slots available for saving, although with the large size of the level templates, we imagine that this number will last people a relatively long time. Your levels can be shared online freely, or just amongst those on your friends list. You can even create a locked level and then send out keys to people as presents--fans of your Web site or MySpace page, for example. Your public levels will be open to the community to play, tag, and recommend, making it easy for everyone to play only the best levels out there, or just those themed around Christmas, for example. Your online profile will also mark out the sort of player that you are, with three distinct categories--player, creator, or sharer.

While our LittleBigPlanet level was fully functioning and practically bug free, it unfortunately didn't come close to what some of the other groups managed to come up with. Our idea was to start the level with a gallery of our faces built using the PlayStation Eye, and then throw in some seesaw based puzzles and fire-and-ice obstacles. Thanks to a decent level of experimentation, our creation eventually came third in the overall challenge, beaten by a level that told a joke in pictorial form, and the winning entry which told a narrative about relationships. All three levels showed a completely different approach--some of them trying to replicate the traditional levels created by Media Molecule, others just using the engine to set up an elaborate pun. Either way, expect similarly varied results once these tools make it into the public domain.

While the story mode wasn't on show during our preview day, there was inevitably some discussion around it. There is a narrative, although Media Molecule wouldn't reveal anything about it, and it will be a branching story with some levels that are designed to be played in multiplayer. The entire story mode will be playable by up to four characters locally or online, with players able to communicate via built-in voice chat if they're opting for the latter. The one feature that was hinted at but never confirmed was a video recording feature. When questioned by us, Mark and Alex looked sheepish before saying that it "could be in the game," but that it's not something they're confirming at this time.

LittleBigPlanet's Create mode is as easy to use as the developers originally promised, and while making some of the physics-based elements work can be tricky, there is a huge amount of scope when it comes to what can be created. The creation tools are yet another enticing part of a package we've already fallen in love with, and the recently postponed release date of October 2008 is only making the wait for this game all the more agonizing. But with Sony's track record of showing the game off as often as it can, we're sure to see more of LittleBigPlanet in the coming months.

Discussion

136 comments
megamage6
megamage6

ya of course you can its better if u do

Hellwilder
Hellwilder

Yay! Looks like a perfect game! I can't wait to play it!

fullmetalhollow
fullmetalhollow

Wow another great exclusive for ps3. Theres just so much coming out this season. This is at the top of my list, next to it are tekken 6, and naruto UNS.

Staryoshi87
Staryoshi87

If it weren't for LBP, I'd consider trading in my PS3 to get another 360... but since it does exist, my hands are tied.. even though my PS3 is dying :D

stan105
stan105

makes me want 2 get a ps3 but too bad i got a 360 -_- ....well il just get the PSP version

IIHitandRunII
IIHitandRunII

I think this game will be fun for a little while like 1 to 2 months, but still looking forward to it :)

Crusader-Z
Crusader-Z

true..360 shooters are unbelievable...but this game(even though isn't a shooter) will rock our socks off!

one_of_panda
one_of_panda

Even though this game looks beyond amazing, I still think I am going to hold off on getting a PS3 just yet. Maybe when FFXIII comes out and the next PS3 model comes out. But LBP simply looks amazing!!!!

one_of_panda
one_of_panda

Even though this game looks beyond amazing, I still think I am going to hold off on getting a PS3 just yet. Maybe when FFXIII comes out and the next PS3 model comes out. But LBP simply looks amazing!!!!

BringinDaRain
BringinDaRain

im buying a PS3 for this game but ps3 can never compete with 360's shooters BUT THIS LOOKS AWESOME

TheOddQuantum
TheOddQuantum

Intrueging, however I won't keep my expectations up. I don't want to be let down by another ps3 game.

division_9
division_9

Finally the only game that looks like its good that doesnt have anything to do with violence,racing or horror.

fisherprice92
fisherprice92

Really looking forward to this. ive always enjoyed innovative games that bring new ideas to the table. just hope this isn't such a letdown as HAZE.

KOSMOSEngineer
KOSMOSEngineer

This is game is going to be freaking incredible! And what the hell is with people saying "all you do is walk through it?" Only inasmuch as Mario just "walks" through his levels. Idiots.

spikedwraith
spikedwraith

Aww man i was hoping this would be a sequel to little big adventure :(

keyser27
keyser27

Can't wait, all the video previews are mindblowing.

Akitahkomachi
Akitahkomachi

You don't just walk through the level. The levels are supposed to be made so they're somewhat like a puzzle and your character can also die. There's fire and ice stuff you can put on objects so if a sackboy hits them he'll die and you have to start over. The levels are supposed to be platform like in gameplay and the game will come with pre-made levels. You can create different obstacles that will require the player to think to get past them. It's all about creativity and what you can think up, so if you aren't creative and don't like to think then you probably won't like this game.

PharaohManXe54
PharaohManXe54

What the hell is the point of this game? You just create levels? And walk through them? The whole creation idea is nice and all, but I think some more purpose would be a nice addition. But honestly, who's gonna shell out money for a game that is pretty much work and all you have to do in the end is walk through it?

chickyroger
chickyroger

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

DoomBlast
DoomBlast

This is one of the reasons for what I'm buying a PS3.

Andrew_D28
Andrew_D28

Its spelled taste. Also you may not like the game or even the genre, but it in no way looks like garbage.

wheater
wheater

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

LaniReaper
LaniReaper

Wow, there are a lot of comments about "What is this meant to be?" "This doesn't look like it'll be fun, but it's interesting." and etc. LittleBigPlanet is a platformer with a few big twists. You make your own little puppet character, and lead him through levels. You can either stick to story mode and do the pre-set levels, or download levels other people have made and play them for - wait for it - the pure FUN of it. Between being (I hope) a solid platformer, and the ability to make your own levels? I am VERY much looking forward to this. =)

bigc072005
bigc072005

*sigh* this is why gaming should have an age limit...we have whiney little kids with high expectations, but as soon as a good game comes out they switch on the fanboy mode...if people had brains and understood what they did with LBP to make it look like it does and attract such a variety of people they would be more appreciative....not only did these developers go on a limb and get super creative with this but they made it look so damn fun....its a brilliant looking game and if you simply cant appreciate it or wait to form your negative opinion when its released then you simply have no taste....this game will be up there with a lot of nintendo classics.

bigc072005
bigc072005

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

popping4it
popping4it

im going out on a limb but this game may be impressive in demos but the actual gameplay will be as fun as poking a pile of poo with a stick.

nf1994
nf1994

This has so much potential to be great

SpareJesus
SpareJesus

Gravidtron hit the nail on the head here; this definitely seems more like the kind of title a Wii-owner (like myself) would enjoy; this would be my reason to get a PS3, kind of like the seller of the PSP for me was Lumines. Edit: Or Loco-Roco for that matter.

shockster4life
shockster4life

wow sony...wow. effing dolls u want us to play with dolls. does anyone else see something slightly uninteresting about playin with dolls we can create??

lextexrex
lextexrex

Does anyone else have that craving of sending the puppets down a giant mountain with ridiculous speed on skateboard into a pit of lava?

Delta_sniper064
Delta_sniper064

people are not looking at the bigger picture here this game offers a crazy in game engine think about that in a fps come on it would be COOL AS ****

Jebbers
Jebbers

looks kind of fun in a tony hawk/excite bike NES create a level way, hehe. i dont think it will do well outside of japan (those japanese are wierd i say) ;)

lostn
lostn

"I don't understand the point of this game. From what I can gather, I get to create my own virtual fuzzy puppet and then fight against someone else's puppet. Then I can create my own level so my puppet has a place to walk. I don't get it." It's a platform game. Think SMB1 on NES but with more objects to interact with. You move from beginning to end of the level to pass it. You can make your own levels and share them. The tools are robust so your imagination is the limit.

PotatoSandWitch
PotatoSandWitch

I don't think this looks very fun to play, although I do believe it to be a step in a good direction.

dolfan928
dolfan928

This looks like another one of the "why the heck would I buy that?" games from Sony, like LocoRoco, Patapon, and echochrome. However, I'm sure once we get a chance to play it, we'll all love it, just like those games. I don't understand much about LittleBigPlanet either, but I've learned never to judge a book by it's cover(unless the cover says Microsoft lol) and this looks like a lot of fun.

jazilla
jazilla

This game is for people that want to be creative rather than just playing what someone else designed. If you are into playing games, not making them, then this probably isn't for you. Not every game has to be what you personally expect it to be.

Gravidtron
Gravidtron

Judging by the comments, they are really aiming for the wrong demographic here. PS3 owners are yawning, while I, a Wii owner, am SALIVATING over this game. Considering how the great but underappreciated PS2 games are getting a second chance at success on the Wii, I can only assume that this game will eventually set records when it's released on the Wii Lite SP or whatever the upgrade system is called.

dkell2
dkell2

I don't understand the point of this game. From what I can gather, I get to create my own virtual fuzzy puppet and then fight against someone else's puppet. Then I can create my own level so my puppet has a place to walk. I don't get it. A jump rope mini game? wtf?

corn999
corn999

to quote Skullcandy "zzzzzzzzzz"

xitwenty20ix
xitwenty20ix

If I had money I would buy a PS3 just for this game.

bourne2live
bourne2live

This game is gonna bring out the deepest part of our imagination

robram9
robram9

After all the hype and the utter disappoinment GTA 4 turned out to be, I'm not believing anything I read about any game until I actually play the game myself, this game has recieved a lot of hype ever since it was first announced, I hope it turns out to be at least as half as good as everyone in the gaming media is making us think it is.

dboobis
dboobis

Sorry, I still don't get it. Yet another preview and a still I fail to see why exactly this game is so innovative or amazing. Sure it streamlines the whole "create and share" process into something a 5 year old can understand, but in terms of what it "does" can someone please clue me in to what is so awesome about LBP?

LittleBigGamer1
LittleBigGamer1

ax23000 i don't like did you even read the article!!???you have you read anything about LittleBigPlanet?? if u did you wouldn't of made that stupid annoying comment. thats doesn't make sense........ANYWAY.......