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InFamous 2 preview: User-generated chaos


Before presenting the latest milestone in the development of InFamous 2 at GDC today, Sucker Punch Productions development director Chris Zimmerman told his captive audience, "What we saw as the biggest problem with InFamous was that, at some point, it ended." That won't be an issue in this sequel, thanks to user-generated content.

Zimmerman says that the developer has planned to integrate user-created missions from the outset, keeping the feature secret for two years. "That's hard to do," he said with laugh.

Players will have access to "All of the good guys, all of the bad guys, all of the props that we built for the game -- vehicles, weapons and other stuff -- and then a whole bunch of special stuff we built just for making user-generated content," he confirmed. " We figured we'd throw that all out there and let people create, because we think there are lots of people out there that dream of being a game designer, and this is our opportunity to give them the opportunity to share what they can do. To take all of this content we've built over the past two years and putting it together to make something we never thought possible."

Gallery: Infamous 2 (GDC 2011) | 9 Photos

Karl Deckard, one of the designers responsible for Metroid Prime, is heading up the user-generated content side of InFamous 2. "One of the things we're focusing on is letting people build the kinds of missions that aren't in the games already," he said, with Zimmerman adding, "We think players are going to be able to do missions that are every bit as good as what we can do."

For making the missions, Sucker Punch has created what it says is an accessible yet powerful editor. To demo it, the developer brought in two of its QA testers, who quickly slapped together quick missions after the presentation concluded. Like players will be able to, they were placing enemies, objects and -- exclusive to user-generated content -- race rings, aka checkpoints.

These missions, like those made for the final game, could be tagged (similar to LittleBigPlanet stages) and will appear alongside the main story's mission markers. Before you start envisioning a game world filled with markers -- like I did! -- there's going to be a system in place for filtering them all. The best user-rated missions -- the "Famous" -- will be categorized by their type and, every so often, the best of those will be singled out as "Sucker Punch Selections" and appear for anyone who has user-made mission markers turned on.

"We think players are going to be able to do missions that are every bit as good as what we can do."- Chris Zimmerman

I got the chance to play four short (less than one minute) levels that were made using the mission editor. The first was a simple race along power lines; next, a "shooting gallery" with waves of enemies to mow down; after that, I got to throw propane tanks at dancing bad guys on floating platforms; finally, in the most "story mode"-like mission, I fought through the streets of New Marais alongside AI companions, rushing to reach and disarm a bomb before time ran out.

I'm already running through about a dozen mission ideas of my own right now. Everyone will have an opportunity to try our their own designs during the open user-generated content beta launching in April. Details on how to gain entry to it are forthcoming on March 14. Although most of the missions generated during the beta will be wiped once the game launches, the best will actually appear as Sucker Punch Selections when players finally pop the Blu-ray disc into their PS3s on June 7.

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