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Media Molecule reveals LittleBigPlanet 2's more-than-just-music sequencer

Kyle Orland

The demo of LittleBigPlanet 2 that was shown at Cologne's Gamescom this week was similar to the build shown off to great effect at E3 a few months ago. But there was one significant level-editing feature that was being demonstrated for the first time here: a music sequencer that's also quite a bit more.

LittleBigPlanet 2 Technical Director Alex Evans demonstrated the sequencer, which lets you arrange notes on a four-measure grid with the beat at the bottom and multiple octaves of notes running vertically. You choose from a selection of instrument samples including a honky tonk piano, acoustic guitar, drum kit, beatbox, and roughly 30 more that were shown in the demo (more are expected for the final game, Evans said). Notes can be built into samples, which can then be repeated and mixed further via a larger timeline object in the level creation screen.

But this new timeline feature can do a lot more than just music. Elements from a level can be linked to it as well, allowing creators to sync in-game events much more easily than they could in the original LittleBigPlanet. Evans showed a simple example where a block burst into flames just as the bass drum beat came in on the background music.

Level creators have already figured out some incredibly robust uses for this new feature. Evans showed off the innards of an entire top-down racing game, where each section of track was actually actually tied to a timeline scrolling down the screen. This innovative use of the timeline feature was actually discovered by a prolific LittleBigPlanet level creator that the team brought in to design story levels for the sequel.

Evans said he's always gratified when the community "takes building blocks that we have and then uses them in ways we hadn't thought of at all." The LittleBigPlanet team is also reaping the rewards of this new feature; Evans said his designers have complained that, if they had this feature more recently than a month ago, then certain events would have taken "20 minutes to build instead of a day."

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