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Three Developers Explain LittleBigPlanet Level Design to a 7-Year-Old

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Click to view My son has become completely enamored with LittleBigPlanet. Which isn't that surprising. But what is surprising is what about the game that's enthralling. It's not the play that has him begging to boot up the Playstation 3 every night, but the creation. Tristan has become a indie developer and he doesn't even realize it. He spends hours sitting in front of the television adding to his level, figuring out ways to torture gamers, defending his creation. Last week he called me to the television for a play through. At one point I decided to break from the obvious path and drop down to the floor of his level, far from the beaten path. Once there I realized I couldn't get back up. I'm stuck, I said. Oh, I'm going to add scorpions there dad. Watching his interest in game development grow, I suggested that he write up a letter asking for advice in game design, which I would then email off to a few developers I know. Hit the jump to read what David Jaffe, Matrk Pacini and Cliff Blezinski had to tell himTristan's Letter

Hi my name is Tristan. I am 7. I am making a level for LittleBigPlanet. I have already started my level and it has flames. It has a giraffe with a tree. It has crabs. It's really fun. When I'm finished I want it to have flames everywhere and some ghosts in it. I want it to be really scary. I was thinking of making the whole level underground. I also want people to have to jump a whole bunch. I think I will call it The Tristan Level. Do you have advice for me about building it? Thanks, Tristan

Cliff "Dude Huge" Bleszinski - Epic Games Design Director: Gears of War

Sure. When in doubt, add zombies and exploding barrels. Your review score is guaranteed to go up by at least 3 points across the board.


David Jaffe - founder EatSleepPlay: God of War

Tristan, hey! Well, it sounds like you are off to a great start with your level. Very eager to give it a play. I love to jump! As for advice, I would say the following: a- make sure you give the player lots of rewards for trying cool things...little treasures and rewards for exploring your map, battling all the ghosts, helping the giraffe reach some fruit on the tree, whatever. Just make sure the player feels like you have gone in before he/she got there and set up lots of cool surprises for him. The player is looking to YOU to make sure they have a good time. Don't let them down. b- at the same time, if you are not having fun, then change your level. You should do creative work mainly for you. So make sure you enjoy your level first and foremost, otherwise, what is the point? c- Tell your dad to make commenting on his website easier. It really is a right pain in the fucking ass. I hope he will not show you those bad words. d- put in more jumping. Man, I love to jump! Good luck on The Tristan Level, man! That is so cool that your are enjoying the game! Looking forward to your creation! David


Mark Pacini., Game Director Armature Studio - Metroid Prime

Hey Tristan! I heard you are building a level for LBP and so far it sounds really cool! (who wouldn't like fire and giraffes) If you are looking for an easy way to make your level as fun as possible, I wrote up a little level design tidbit that was often used when we were building the environments for the Metroid Prime series. I hope you find it useful! Try to not show the answer before the player knows the question – If you have a simple puzzle in your level, do not show the player the solution before they know what they are trying to solve. Here is a simple example: You have fire in your level, right? Well, imagine you had a pit of fire that the player could not cross. (It is too long to jump safely across) The only way to cross it is to shut it off by pressing a button. Well, where do you put that button? If you put the button right in front of the fire pit, (See ‘A' below) the player will probably push the button and shut off the flames before knowing that's what he needed to do. One place you may want to put the button is above the fire pit, on a platform that the player can reach. (See ‘B' below) That way, the player is more likely to run into the pit and realize he cannot get across. When he finds the button above the pit, he will probably feel more rewarded because he figured it out on his own. This is the basic principle behind building good, rewarding puzzles.