If, like us, you're tired of sinking weeks into your LittleBigPlanet 2 levels only to finally, gloriously publish them and then... no-one plays them - read on. We've spoken to Alex Evans from Media Molecule about how to get noticed, what the team look for when selecting MM Picks, and how you can make your levels much, much better.
PSM3: So, 3.6 million user levels - congratulations. When you started making LBP, did you have any idea the community would embrace it like they have?
AE: Not exactly! We had hoped, but you can't really guess. Over the course of 3 years (for the original LBP) you have ups and downs. When the private friends & family only beta ran, the best level was, I think, a couple of cardboard boxes and a crap version of the millennium falcon. I was overjoyed that ANYTHING had been uploaded. But when the public beta trial ran, within 24h, there were levels to rival the best that we'd made up to that date. It was really inspiring, and led directly to the choices we made in extending create for LittleBigPlanet 2.
PSM3: For you, what separates the good community levels from the great ones?
AE: I think the same thing that separates great games from good ones: a good idea, often a simple one, brilliantly executed. The execution of a game has to include visuals, sound, and 'feel' - and some levels really do nail that. It's hard though, and takes a lot of talent. Tools like LBP give you everything you need, but just like a musical instrument or a sport, a certain amount of time, practice, and skill really pays off.
PSM3: Are there any specific things you look for when you're choosing levels from MM Picks? That's where every serious creator dreams of being.
AE: There aren't particular criterion. Mark Healey (creative director) has a copy of LBP2 on his desk and pretty much all day he just dips in and out. I just asked him what he looked for and he said 'stuff that's entertaining'...
PSM3: We know you hired John Beech after seeing his exceptional levels made in the last LBP - any chance you'd consider expanding your team from the community again?
PSM3: What's the most creative level you've seen produced with LBP2's tools?
AE: That's a really tough one. One man's creative is another man's snore-fest. We're particularly excited by groups of people in the community coming together to make things together; I love the fact that quite often you'll go into a level and it will say stuff like 'music by ' and you know little teams are forming. The Hansel and Gretelbot series is another example; and Kareem (Art Director) just told me that 'I had to mention the level inspired by Lost'. There you go Kareem!
PSM3: Say you're a good, but not exceptional creator. What tips could you offer that person for getting their levels played by a wider audience?
AE: Ask for honest feedback and critique, and don't get disheartened. Amongst all the clamour, someone might say something that really helps you. At MM, we're constantly critiquing and playing each other's levels. It gives you perspective, even if sometimes it can touch a nerve! It's a great skill to learn: to give & take criticism, constructively.
That, and don't forget that lbp.me is a great tool to use the might of the internet, to 'get your level out there' - post lbp.me links, put up a youtube with a link, tweet and email and facebook it; if you are lucky, you might 'go viral'. Even reaching 100 people is a huge achievement: try to visualize 100 people in your front room, enjoying your game. For me, it always blows my mind, and motivates me to try and create even better stuff.
PSM3: Finally, can you tell us anything about the more substantial DLC you have planned? We've love a weather effects changer to give our cut-scenes extra depth...
AE: That's a good idea. I'm afraid I can't, although I will say that substantial Move support is on the cards.... And it's not JUST move, there are some features coming that will appeal to all types of creator - artistic, musical, gameplay-ish: we have stuff for all of you coming!