Revealing a secret they say they held for two years, the game developers at Sucker Punch said today that Infamous 2, their open world electrified super-hero game, will let people create their own levels for the game.
The goals for the June 7 PlayStation 3 exclusive, as described here in San Francisco at the Game Developers Conference, is to let players feel like game designers and to make Infamous 2 never end.
"We think this is an opportunity for people to become famous," Sucker Punch's Chris Zimmerman said, "and for them to become famous for the cool levels they put in the game."
Players will be able to make platforming levels, search and destroy adventures, combat missions, escort missions, shooting galleries and even puzzle missions, skeet shooting and lots of other types players can dream up. They'll be able to lay out objects and obstacles, set up enemy movements, decide player goals, offer rewards and so on. The obvious influence is the PlayStation 3's mod-heavy LittleBigPlanet, though now set in a more Grand-Theft-Auto-style open world of a huge open city full of bad guys to shoot (with electricity from the protagonist's super-powered hands).
A trailer for the user-created missions showed the game's hero Cole jumping across suspended rows of debris, of battling hordes of enemies and doing the things that Infamous 2's designers are letting players do in their own missions. Zimmerman told me that players will be able to write dialogue for their missions, cast the main game's supporting characters in their own adventures and, hey, even create the kind of point-farming missions that cheaters and exploiters like to do in any game that supports user-generated content (two checks on that: you won't be able to earn karma points from the missions you create; you won't be able to earn points from others' missions more than once.)
At the showcase event for the new feature, Sucker Punch let me try a quartet of what would be user-made levels. There was a rooftop race through glowing rings, a shooting gallery challenge that pitted Cole on a bridge firing at rushing hordes of enemies, a puzzle mission that challenged the player to knock down all of the enemies standing on floating platforms that surrounded a tall tower and an adventure mission that let Cole and some computer-controlled allies rush an enemy encampment in an attempt to disarm a bomb. All the missions were timed.
The game's user-made missions won't be hard to find. Glowing green circles representing player-made missions will be shown throughout the game's open world. An Infamous 2 player can set filters, requesting that the game shows nodes in the world that represent, say, only the best user-made shooter missions or the newest platforming missions. The default setting for people playing the game will be to show nodes designated as Sucker Punch Featured Content. Those missions will be the highest-rated and most-played, one notch above "famous" ranking. All of the missions can be user-rated, are credited to the creator and can be remixed by other players.
The new level-creation tools will get a public test run in April when the game's beta kicks off. Details of the beta will be revealed on March 14 and the best of the levels created during the beta trial will be accessible to Infamous 2 players when the game comes out on the PlayStation 3 in June.
This kind of feature doesn't just draw on the ideas of LittleBigPlanet but appears like the kind of feature designed to make people feel like keeping their copy of a video game. If there are new missions all the time, surely the game's creators are hoping you'd not feel the need to trade this one in.