Learning Game Design

with Arcade Berg

Posts Tagged ‘littlebigplanet

Bunker – Aced

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Yes! I finally aced the Bunker level in LittleBigPlanet. Probably took me 3-4 hours and one play-through of the level is no more than 10 minutes… All I got was a crappy helmet.

Written by Arcade

November 18, 2008 at 10:34 pm

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SmallLargeCelestialBody

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[Disclaimer: I’m sorry. After writing this I realise that it’s a lot of words… It’s just that I got so much to say. I even left some parts out. I’ll try and keep it shorter in the future.]

Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet is my new drug. The sensation will most likely wear off but heck, right now, I can’t stop thinking about it.

First of all, let’s get this out of the way; the game isn’t perfect. I wanted it to be, but it really isn’t.

The gameplay is focused with a great scope. The controls are really user friendly making this very close to being a pick-up and play title. The plattforming gameplay only requires one analogue stick and two buttons to be used, the rest of the buttons are used for emotes and placing stickers to unlock some secrets.

The friendly approach towards the player is, if you ask me, a wise decision but it can however turn many experienced players off. In an earlier post I described the physics as being part of a moon landing and I’ll stick by that claim. It’s all very… floaty. The plattforming isn’t like Mario, Sonic, Crash Bandicoot, Ratchet & Clank, Mega Man or any other plattformer you think feels good. LittleBigPlanet is just… slow. The controls can be quite unresponsive because of this and some precision jumping can get you killed because of what you as the player might feel isn’t your fault.

However, the more you play it the more you get used to it and starts adjusting your timing accordingly automatically. It’s more often not a problem for me nowadays.

Because everything is physics driven you’ll probably encounter what I think is the gameplay experience’s  biggest flaw. Sometimes your (adorable!) sackboy will have a hard time keeping his feet on the surface beneath him. The problem with this is that when you’re trying to jump you just… might not. This is because if the sackboy isn’t actually standing on something, of course he can’t push away from anything to jump. A great example in the game of this is an early level in which you stand on a (mechanical) bull’s back and you have to jump off at the end to reach a plattform. Because the bull’s back keeps moving, aswell as his neck, I most often needs several tries because actually making what would in any other plattforming game be a very easy jump.

There are, as I see it three parts of the game; the Story Mode created by Media Molecule themself, the community aspects and the creation of new content.

I’ve finished the Story Mode playing by myself and I’ve replayed quite a few of them with friends and with randoms on the Internet. The story is about as deep as a puddle of water but that’s okay. Actually, it’s more than okay, it’s great. This is the kind of game that shouldn’t take itself too seriously when it comes to narrative and epic story-telling.

The Story Mode is really fun and all but the reason I keep playing is because there are hidden treasures all over each level, giving you more stuff to use in Creation Mode and the fact that Media Molecule’s own levels are truly great examples on what you yourself can create. It serves as inspiration like no other if you don’t already have many hours spent on the Creation Mode. Let me tell you this; the guys that made this game are quite clever fellows!

Now, playing alone is jolly good fun but playing with friends, local or online, now that’s where the fun really takes off! It’s hard to make a game boring if it includes co-op, but it’s even harder to make a game this much more fun when played with buddies!

When I feel that I want something else than the bundled levels, I can go online and try out all the user-generated content and that’s where the second part of the game takes place. There are hundreds, maybe thousands (I don’t know) of levels created by other players out there. Let me be honest with you guys… You can keep a secret, right? Most of the community levels sucks… Big time! But hey, that’s to be expected and while there are some worse than any episode of Days of our lives, there are also some simply amazing ones. Some levels beat Media Molecules levels in in ingenuity, some in art and some in pure fun to play!

I really recommend trying out the levels World of Color and Super Tank (both videos avaliable 15/11-08).

One thing I think is really cool with the community levels is that the creator can choose to share things he or she builds as prizes on the level. Either by having them as a pick-up in the level or as a reward for finishing the level with a pre-requirement fullfilled. Thereby community levels are just as much worth playing as an official level.

The game’s Trophies are even encouraging playing both the Story Mode aswell as the community levels. Thumbs up Media Molecule! 

The third and final part of the game is to create your own levels for others to play.

Let me just get this off my chest:

Include Keyboard and Mouse-support! Create a patch now and give me some decent controls! I want hotkeys, Ctrl-Click, Mouse-based camera control, Ctrl-Z (Oh god… How I want Ctrl-Z…)! Give me! Gief! I want it! I crave it! I’ll even pay for it on PSN! Just… Do it!

…Phew.

When I was to create my first stuff in the Creation Mode I made one big mistake. I got in way over my ears! “How hard can it be? Let’s build’s some mechanical robot-thingy.” … Well, let me tell you; I failed. Oh man, the first night I was fiddleing with the editor, I got furious. Nothing worked, things kept falling apart, my levers and switches didn’t do what I wanted. I got to bed irritated that night…

The entire next day at work I pondered on each tools functionality, I read up on some forums (avaliable 15/11-08) (during breaks, of course) and once I got home, I sat down and started creating some simpler stuff, one step at a time and suddenly I felt enlightened. It all worked. Godrays lit on me from heaven, I had been chosen, I was now one of the creators.

God said: Arcade, damn you’re cool!
I answered: Thanks dude, you’re not so bad yourself, creating the earth and everything.
God: A mighty fine world I might add.
Me: Yeah, but sorry to dissapoint you. I’m gonna surpass you now. I’m gonna create a world in which everyone is happy. And once I’m done, I won’t take a day off to relax.
God: Impudent child! I’ll stop you!
Me: You try and do that. Watch me!

It’s on! So let’s see who’s gonna win. Me or God? 

Creating, now there’s my drive. It’s what I love to do and it’s what I’m usually good at. I find the tools in LittleBigPlanet to be very limiting and they offer a very slow working environment which at times make me a less than super happy boy with stunning looks. 

Yet, I love working with it. Right now, I’m longing for it! I’ve been away this weekend, and during the time on the trains, I’ve been sketching ideas for one of my two level projects. At work, I sketch. It’s like a drug!

I’m such a LittleBigPlanet sucker that I’ve bought all their extra in-game clothing available on the PSN-store. One measly T-shirt, only for sale during the first week cost 45 Swedish crowns (4.5 euro or 5.7 US dollars)! Luckily it as the only thing ridiculously expensive.

The game has overall been getting some really great reviews. During the first few hours with the game I thought maybe they were a little too positive but now I see that they were right. This game deserves all the great reviews it gets!

So, I’ll see you in LittleBigPlanet?

PS. God, prepare for humiliation!

 

Say hello to my LittleFriend!

Say hello to my LittleFriend!

Written by Arcade

November 16, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Reason of absence

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So uhm… I haven’t posted anything in a while and I’m not sure my excuse is adequate. For the last week and a half, pretty much all I’ve been doing except from work is gaming.

Usually, I don’t game that much because of lack of time. But really, this fall is too good to pass up. I figured there is a part of the 24h-cycle I haven’t fully made use of; the night. So listen to my symphony of the night! I’ve stocked up on energy drinks and when I get tired I’ll drink some. Of course, this isn’t a valid method for long but right now I have both Fallout 3 and LittleBigPlanet so drastic measures are needed.

Though, let it be heard that I haven’t forgot about the blog! I’ve secretly been writing on a couple of posts (one on graphics and one on the “magic circle”) and shortly I’ll post my thoughts (not reviews!) on Fallout 3 as well as the happiest game in a long time; LittleBigPlanet.

Oh, one more thing! I just gotta share this with you guys because I laughed out loud at the office while watching this. (Not that I watch YouTube at work! … I saw it on Gametrailers…)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpzAAgtZ7V4 (avalible 14/11-08)

Written by Arcade

November 14, 2008 at 6:09 pm

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LittleBigPlanet – First Impression

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LittleBigPlanet, the game with a following resembling a religious cult in which I’ve been a member since the early days.

The game finally had its european release today but I was fortunate enough to have it waiting for me with the rest of my snail-mail when I got home from work.

I played for about 4 hours yesterday before going to bed. Unfortunately the servers were all down for maintanance so I didn’t get a chance to try out any of the online features or any kind of multiplayer.

Of course, after all the hype and all my intense daydreaming the first 20 minutes or so wasn’t “all that”. It felt great, for sure, but it wasn’t the naïve religious-like extatic super wow-feeling I somehow had come to expect. But it grew on me, in less than an hour I was completely sold.

The moon-landing physics when moving around felt a bit weird at first but once I got used to it, it worked like a charm.

I still haven’t tried and built anything so I can’t comment on it except to say that it fear that it’ll feel a bit tedious to use the pop-it menu.

I’ll be gone for the weekend so I won’t have the chance to play it more untill next week or maybe sunday night, but once I’ve tried out the level building tools, the community and of course the local and online multiplayer I’ll let y’all know what I think.

Problem is… I still haven’t finished Fallout 3 either. So little time…

Oh, by the way! Right now my Sackboy looks totally rad in his giant sombrero and long manly moustache!

Written by Arcade

November 7, 2008 at 5:50 pm

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LittleBigProblem

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It’s just silly… But I respect it.

This is the weekend I was supposed to be playing LittleBigPlanet. I pre-ordered my copy a while ago along with a LittleBigPlanet T-shirt.

As many of you already know; the game was delayed due to that in one song from one level in the game, two lines of the lyrics may be offensive to some…

We learnt yesterday that there is a lyric in one of the licensed tracks which some people may find offensive, and which slipped through the usual screening processes. Obviously MM and Sony together took this very seriously. LBP should be enjoyable by all. So within 12 hours of hearing about this issue involving a lyric (in Somalian, I believe!), Media Molecule had prepared an automatic day 0 patch and had a new disk image ready; however a decision was made within Sony that the right thing to do for quality and support of people with no on-line was to replace existing disks. They assure us that they are doing everything in their power to get things straightened out as fast as possible, and will announce dates soon.

Media Molecule Blog (17/10-2008)
http://www.mediamolecule.com/2008/10/17/and-in-other-news/ 

I understand and I respect the decision as they do put up some valid arguments. But for me, the unoffended guy in Sweden, it sucks!

Penny Arcade recently published a great comic about it all:

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2008/10/22/broken-clock/ (25/10-2008)

Gabriel: I don’t really get the LittleBigPlanet recall. Some of the stupid songs is the least of their problems.
During the beta, I played a level where you fly a plane into the Twin Towers.
That shit is going on the evening news.

Tycho: It’s user-generated content, though.

Gabriel: You think your mom cares about that? Nobody knows what that even means.
Chris Hansen is going to come on, and show a level where Sackboy bombs his school.
When that happens, we are all well and truly fucked.

Not only will I now have to wait untill early November to get a chance to play LittleBigPlanet but it will also greatly collide with me playing Bethesda’s Fallout 3 (please god, let it be great!).

I’ve been a huge fan of LittleBigPlanet since the first video was released a couple of years ago and my interrest has grown over time. However it’s not just the content creation elements that I like. Sure, they might be great but I’m deeply in love with the art-style as well. A technical impressive plattformer is also a selling point for me. Plattformers are among the most fun game genre (btw, I don’t like to use “genre” when it comes to games, but more about that some other time) to play if it’s just simplistic fun you’re looking for.

I’d buy the game even if it was released without the creation tools.

“The game is soooo Games 2.0!”… That’s what a lot of people are saying and I hope they’re right. I want it to be all it can be but I see it more like a step in a good direction. Obviously, not all the players will create levels and only a very small amount of the ones who will, will continue doing so for a long time to come. But I believe the game will sell quite good and if even  only 1% of those people will keep creating levels, there will be more than enough content to play.

My hope is that all the reviews out there are right; that the game without the creation part alone is great!

I talked to a collegue yesterday who’s had the change to play it (bastard!).

It was the first time I really felt I wanted a Playstation 3. That game alone is worth the money for both the game and console.

And to that I say: Thank you! That’s exactly what I wanted to hear!

I like what I’ve seen of the editor so far. It seems easy enough to use and let’s you create some inzanely crazy stuff! There’s a guy who’ve created a calculator that can add and subract, god damn it! I know I will spend many, many, many hours creating content, both myself and along with friends. I’ll do some artsy levels, some experimental, some totally random, some… Well, pretty much all I can think of. However, I’m afraid the lifetime of this thing won’t be nearly the same as with the “real editors” used in the modding communities. There’s nothing strange about that though. Unfortunately I don’t think the PS3 controller is the optimal input device for creating. The PS3 can handle both a mouse and keyboard, why not let us use that if we want? (Or do they? If they do, just ignore me.) Although I don’t have a doubt in my mind that the tools are greatly adopted for the controller at hand, so don’t get me wrong.

As a level designer, I know how to use several editors, including Valve’s Hammer, Epic’s UnrealEd and Grin’s internal editor and quite frankly;  I wouldn’t want to use any of them with a 360 or a PS3 controller.

Well, I guess all I can do now is wait and try it out once it arrives.

I hope you’ll try out my levels!

Written by Arcade

October 25, 2008 at 12:45 pm