Media Molecule talk to Critical Gamer (part two)

Left to right its (still) John Johnee Beech, Danny Leaver, and Martin Lynagh.

Left to right it's (still) John 'Johnee' Beech, Danny Leaver, and Martin Lynagh.

If you missed part one of the interview, how can you forgive yourself? Go read it now! Okay, everybody ready? Here comes part two:

Ross asks Martin what I really should have thought of; will we be seeing more interactive music DLC?

“There definitely will be more interactive music. Whether that’s standalone in a music only pack… I don’t know yet. We’ll see how the first music pack does first. We’d love to do that; as with everything we do we’ll listen to the community, and see how it goes.” But how come the only level pack we’ve seen so far is the Metal Gear Solid one?

“We may be level designers, but most of our time is actually spent testing other features that come into the game.” explains Danny. “These things only ever get announced when they’re nearly complete; most of our time is spent prototyping these things. Our studio is quite small, about thirty five people; we simply don’t have a distinction between designers and level designers. So most of our time isn’t spent making levels, which is a bit of a shame.”

“But we hope to do more packs of that nature in the future.” Martin assures us.

How about more physics based additions such as the water beta, I ask him? Such as zero gravity?

“There are quite a few. Is that something that you’d particularly like to see in the game?”

I babble on, and it’s when I say that zero gravity seems like the natural progression of physics based packs, that I realise they’ve started to interview us.

“It’s certainly something to bear in mind.”

“There’s so much we want to do, we forget things like that.” says Danny. “And it’s always nice to hear -”

Danny is rudely interrupted by Ross saying ‘goo, goo’. Momentarily thinking that perhaps Ross has reverted to a childlike state, I then remember that this is a pet idea of his for an LBP addition.

“Goo?” asks Martin, intrigued.

Danny asks “What does the Goo do?”

It’s a viscous substance, I confidently declare. Ross however – the fool – thinks that he understands his idea better than I do.

“You can bounce off it.” He explains, which is met with a general ‘aaaah’ of understanding from the Media Molecule guys. So when the zero gravity goo pack comes along, you know where they got that idea from.

I move on to the now infamous fifty layer glitch, which was present in a community level I’d played just a few days before. So presumably it’s been left in intentionally?

Danny explains: “Well, anything you find like that… with a million people, I guess it’s always going to happen. Unless it’s damaging to the game, we’re going to leave it. It’s part of the creative process. The fifty layer bug doesn’t sit very well with me on a personal level, because it can make levels very hard to read, as in where you can go and what you can do. Some people have done it very well and made it very clearly defined.”

“I think it’s a testament to people’s creativity that things that are unintentional get used in such innovative ways.” says Martin, before Johnee gives us the fascinating revelation:

“My levels that got me the job had numerous glitches and bugs which I’d found in there, which I utilised to make the level look better.”

The fifty layer glitch allows players to, unofficially, create their own backgrounds. Are there any plans for an official pack to allow the community to create their own backgrounds?

“We’ve actually never heard that as a suggestion.” Martin tells me; though the highly intelligent Danny says “It’s a good idea.” But user created backgrounds probably won’t happen because, as Martin says, “They’re quite involved assets, the backgrounds. That could be problematic.”

Despite it being such a unique and incredibly innovative game – given huge backing by Sony – LBP met relatively disappointing sales on release. How did that make them feel, I ask him? Were they disappointed?

“I don’t think we are disappointed.”

“I was overwhelmed!” says Danny, and it’s clear he means it. “One thing that’s important to remember is that a lot of games, especially new games, don’t make a profit. But because our team was so small and we were quite good with our time, and produced well; the game cost a relatively small amount; we were profitable from week one.”

“We did very well for a fresh IP.” Martin points out. “It’s all relative. That is something that people have said, but to be honest we’re very happy.”

“It’s a game that if you buy now, you’ll still get as much out of it as if you’d bought it on release day.” Johnee adds. “Most games if you buy a long time after release you’ve missed the hype, you’ve missed the buzz; everybody knows all about it now, it’s all been seen before. Thanks to the community levels, I could go back and play LittleBigPlanet now, and see hundreds of things I haven’t seen before.”

And what level of input did the guys have in Cambridge Studio’s PSP game?

“We haven’t been terribly hands on, but there’s been frequent viewpoints. We’re delighted with the product.” says Martin. “Those guys are brilliant. They really ‘got’ what LittleBigPlanet’s about. They obviously don’t have the horsepower of the PS3 behind them, so they’ve made very smart decisions about what to do.”

Danny agrees. “We probably would’ve been more hands on if we weren’t happy with it. It’s a testament to the game that we literally got builds and said ‘that’s really fun!’ and that was it.”

Can we expect to see LBP in Home?

“Like a space?” Danny asked me, turning the developer – journalist relationship on its head again. These guys go against the grain without even thinking about it! So off I went again, burbling something about costumes and something viral that could pass from player to player.

“It’s a great idea.” said Martin, my new favourite. “There’s nothing I’m aware of regarding Home though.”

How will LittleBigPlanet grow in the future? It’s previously been said that the plan is to ‘expand the game without partitioning the experience’. Does that mean more DLC in the vein of what we’ve already seen, or something else? Does that mean there’ll never be an LBP2, I ask?

“It’s a good question.” It’s official: Martin is man of the match. “I think what you’ve seen so far from LittleBigPlanet, that’s the way it’s going to continue. We’re evolving the community, listening to them, carrying them with us. That’s something you’re going to see a lot more of.”

“We’d never fragment the community.” asserts Danny. So that means we’ll never see another LittleBigPlanet disc, because that would create two sets of LBP players who couldn’t share with one another? “We’d never want to do that. That’d be the most counterproductive thing you could do I think.”

Get involved! Throw yourself into the LittleBigPlanet community by visiting www.mediamolecule.com. On a regular basis.

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Written by Luke K

He plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. He doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

One comment

  1. sourmoebot /

    MM should really let us add our own music, there also should be a pack where you can add a realistic looking sun and clouds, rain, like a weather pack.

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