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LittleBigPlanet dev chats about story mode, adult content, and Sackboy plushies


For the latest episode of the PS Nation podcast, we chatted with Media Molecule founder, Mark Healey. He previously worked on Rag Doll Kung Fu, before moving onto the hotly anticipated PS3 exclusive, LittleBigPlanet. In our 40 minute chat, we covered a number of topics. For example, did you know LittleBigPlanet will have a story mode? Did you know that you'll be able to share "risque" levels privately amongst your friends? Finally, we have confirmation that Sackboy plushies are being made. Yes! Read on.

LittleBigPlanet has been evolving at every show. For example, enemies were introduced in the most recent build. How is Media Molecule staggering these features? What's the schedule and why are certain things only being shown at certain times?
To be honest, because we showed the game at GDC originally, so early on in the development process. Really, we've been showing things as they go into the game. People have been seeing the game evolve. Quite often, people show the game much nearer the end and are very careful about what they show and what they don't show. It's literally as we're designing the game that we're showing things. There wasn't one big master plan. At some point, we decided "we need enemies," so we put enemies. And then it was shown to people.

YouTube video uploading has been discussed for games like PixelJunk Eden and an educational title in Japan. Is it something that's being considered for the game?
We haven't made any plans to do that yet. But, like we've always said. We really want to listen to the community. Really, whatever they're most hungry for, we'll make every effort to feed them with what they're hungry for. Like the fluid, with YouTube -- I'm taking a guess, but those are going to be high up on that list. I don't really know what the logistics are, who you have to talk to at YouTube. If there's a huge desire for it, and it's possible, then I'm sure we'll have a go at doing it.

How were the Killzone Sackboys introduced into LittleBigPlanet?
Alex, one of our technical directors, he happened to know one of the people at Guerilla. That particular thing came about over a couple of beers. It's a really small world, the games industry, really. We're definitely interested in getting first party game elements into the LittleBigPlanet universe. I don't want to say too much about it, really. As things unfold, we'll definitely make them known. And, I have to be careful ... Brandon (SCEA PR) might snap some legs if I go any further.

What's the breadth of content we can find in the final game, considering it's been taking so long?

"There's a whole game there you can play through ... strung together in the form of a story."

First of all, out of the box, there's going to be a whole heap of example levels. Last time I counted, there were fifty plus. We put a lot of time and effort into those. We wanted to kill a few birds with one stone. A, we wanted to show what's possible with the tools. B, for people that don't want to be creative, there's a whole game there that you can play through, basically. They are strung together in the form of a story. A very loose story, but incredibly funny at certain points. There's elements in those levels that will satisfy a lot of different type of gamers. So yeah, there's definitely going to be enough content to just play.

We've seen levels that scroll from the left to the right. Will levels be able to go from the right to the left?
When you create a level (or scene, as I like to call it), you can place an entrance anywhere you'd like. You've got a huge area you can build your level in ... so yes is the answer to that.

Some people will want to build more risque content for the title. How are filters being implemented and can people get away with putting more ... adult content on the service?
First of all, I can tell you that you can make private levels. You can publish a level and make it locked and give away keys to friends. But, I personally wouldn't put risky content in there. We have a post-grievance system. The way that works is ... pretty much at any point in the game, you can press a button and effectively take a screenshot. That screenshot knows lots of information of where that screenshot came from, what players were there, etc. You can send that screenshot to the powers that be ... If you want to make a private level, give keys to people you trust. You can do that, I suppose.

"Maybe in the future, we'd like to explore other areas outside of games."

Why the name Media Molecule?
I remember we had lots of arguments at the time about what we should call ourselves. I think we settled on that on in the end. Well, all of us here are interested in various forms of media. Music, video, computer games ... and we clustered together to form a molecule. It sort of makes sense in a way. I remember one of the things we talked about is that we didn't want to have the word "Games" in our company name. Maybe in the future, we'd like to explore other areas outside of games. Who knows? It's a name we'd like to go forward with our global empire.

So "LittleBigPlanet: the Movie" confirmed.
Absolutely. Via YouTube, of course. [Ed's note: this is a joke. We think.]

Can we use the Playstation Eye to customize our characters?
Absolutely ... For example, you can wear a cardboard box and put a sticker of yourself there. And presto, you have a little creepy version of yourself walking around in the game. So yes, you can absolutely do that.

Can we expect more quirky music (featured in the trailers) in the game?
Absolutely. We've got some real gems in there. I won't name them now and spoil the surprise. But we've got ... well, I forget the number. We've got several really cool tunes in there from bands that aren't necessarily very well known. In addition to that, we've got a whole set of interactive pieces of music. So, things like the Go Team track are effectively licensed track that you can place into a level if you like and they just play. But we've got some other pieces of music where you can actually tinker with a virtual mixer, so you can alter what they sound like. You can alter the drums, or the bass, or change the vocal parts. You can sequence that and have different mixers throughout the game. Hours of fun just messing with that. I'm not going to say more about that ... but that's very cool. There's some exciting things related to that in store. It's something that's never been done before, I don't think.

They're coming.

Are there any plans to sell Sackboy plushies?
I hope so. I want one. And everyone I know wants one. I think it'd be silly not to really. I don't know what plans have been made to start the process, but I think it's a no-brainer, really. I need one to give one to my newborn child, to start. [Ed's note: check the podcast for more details on that!] So that's got to happen. Do you know anything about that Brandon?
Brandon: It's on the way. Details will be emerging shortly.

Did companies other than Sony try to get LittleBigPlanet?

"It was pitched exclusively to Sony. They said the right things."

Well actually, Sony were the first people we showed it to. They just got it straight away. They loved it, really. They said all the right things, and they really went out of their way to establish us as a new studio. We didn't even feel the need to go to show it to anyone else, really. It was pitched exclusively to Sony. They said the right things, so good Sony!

Mark goes into great detail about the inspiration behind LittleBigPlanet in our full interview. Stay tuned to PS3 Fanboy and listen to the upcoming episode of the PS Nation podcast to listen to the entire conversation. Thanks to Mark and Brandon from Sony for helping us arrange everything.


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