I fell in love with the original LittleBigPlanet, just something about it astounded me. Of course, this was back before it was even released, I was one of the hot guys on the Beta scene, churning out levels and working out the kinks. It looked like video-games 2.0, as if we had come full circle. Designer made games were now becoming only designer made tools, for the player to express himself with, the power of emergent gameplay was lying on my feet. Clearly, however, there is something wrong in this equation. People don’t like to build worlds, a few of them do (who luckily have hundreds upon hundreds of mounds of patience) but people like to destroy things. It’s one of the charms of SimCity to level up your city and eventually just decimate it with one click.
There’s the magic word, click, this is why I think people struggle to make comprehensive levels with the tools that LittleBigPlanet provides. They’re vast in number with Stephen Fry narration and physics on the kazoo! With a little love and care into the controls, then everything would be alright. I have sketches upon sketches of unfinished levels and stories I want to tell, yet the only thing stopping LittleBigPlanet is the irony behind it. Bringing accessible level creation from PC modding tools into the heart of console game was always going to be a struggle, and the dualshock just cannot cope with the level of precision and intricacy that is needed to operate and make a basic level.
I think bringing the likes of Hammer and other PC modding tools to consoles will ultimately but futile, as using a controller to make a level or game or whatever takes an obscene amount of time and effort. The philosophy behind LittleBigPlanet is revolutionary, to finally put the game in our hands, but I’d rather just see it on PC. Why can’t I just make them on PC and then port them over to my PS3 to experience the full array of console comforts such as friend lists and such. Adding motion control functionality in the game makes the tools perhaps even more accessible, but less… accessible. We had to deal with little jerky movements when dealing with Dualshock interfaces, but now with Playstation Move we have to deal with massive jerky movements.
I love Media Molecule, I love how they make their games just breathe British and I am more than looking forward to LittleBigPlanet 2. I just think that the interface behind it would be better suited to a PC, as it takes mounds of patience to even create a basic level with a Dualshock controller. I know from my experience with the LittleBigPlanet 2 Beta that I won’t be spending much time in creation mode. I know I’ll use it to just mess about but to create any of the level sketches I have would require weeks of work and I don’t simply have that amount of time. I’m even a student still in secondary education, and when I can’t find the time to make a giant blissful level with a controller, who can?
At the end of the day, who cares, because some people are so determined and amazing and magic that they pump out amazing levels. The ‘LittleDeadSpace’ in the original game community was amazing, as was many other creations. Giant tanks, a chicken with wheels and so on and so forth. The game succeeded in putting the tools to create in people’s hands, but not many people. It’s very frustrating even attempting to make an intricate level, as the littlest movement cripples it completely or wrecks a giant part. A bug that haunted me for a while was every part of a level becoming unstuck and spending the next twenty minutes literally putting the level back together again.
So I love playing LittleBigPlanet and I look forward to the sequel, but only because it is so much fun to play. Some people create wondrous, dexterous things things with what they create. In the Beta, there are some co-op levels which use the new ‘-inators’ to a full extent. There’s a creatinator, which creates objects when you hold it. There’s a grabinator, which can carry big objects. Mix these two together and you’ve got a damn good co-operative experience. I usually play the game with friends anyway and giving people the ability to bridge that gap between players, using mechanics, is damn clever stuff.
So, my critique of LittleBigPlanet 2 is that I’m not clever enough and the game is damn too clever to squeeze itself into a dualshock controller. I love it to bits, honestly, the game series will probably serve as a hint towards the future of user generate content. The bridge across the player/experience gap is about to just be completely filled in. Telling our own stories for other people to hear is probably the greatest proposal of all time. In fact, Sleep is Death recently pushed this into the storytelling extremes and I recommend that to absolutely anyone.