A Whole Planet Of Creativity

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LBP scheme
LBP scheme
With the advent of always-connected broadband consoles and digitally distributed games, the way games are created—and by whom—has changed. Sony has opened up its PlayStation Network to all developers and U.K. developer Media Molecule has delivered the first game that will introduce user-generated content (a long-time staple of PC games) to PlayStation 3 gamers.

"With Little Big Planet, our focus was on combining, in a pretty unique way, a console 'game' experience with simple tools that anyone could use," says Alex Evans, technical director, Media Molecule. "At the same time, we're not trying to cater directly to those uber-programmers out there who want to actually code, at least not initially. Instead, we wanted to find a way to empower the broadest range of people to both create, and then share their creations online."

The game, which features custom characters that players can create from a wide selection of buttons, cloth and other pieces, has been designed to make creativity as simple as stamping parts together—and imagination is the only limit when it comes to this part of the process.

Sack Boy
Sack Boy
"The really powerful thing is, you can build yourself ever more complex creations from little initial pieces, then combine those larger pieces, and so on, until you just have this great complex level or beast or whatever, all in a few clicks of the X button and some analog stick twiddling," explains Evans. "Anyone with hands and a PS3 can do it. Also, you can leave rewards for people who complete your level, such as a vehicle, or character costume, or anything else, which others can then win, and use in their own creations. So the more you play the game, the more cool stuff you'll have to make new things."

With these virtual toys at their fingertips, early testers of the game (which looks gorgeous in high definition) have really brought their own personalities to their character and level creations. Players can create fast-paced action levels that will keep gamers glued to the screen or more methodical, puzzle challenges that require thinking before jumping to the next rung.

A scene from LBP
A scene from LBP
"We knew it had to be online, so we just let our creative brains go wild with what sort of features we'd like in the game," says Evans.

The game, set to launch September 2, will allow players to upload their own creations for the world to play and to download others. In addition, Media Molecule will be providing new toys to download over time to make this game experience fresh for years to come. "We think of ourselves as users of the game, just like the gamers who buy it," says Evans. "So, just as it's easy for anyone out there to add to this game world and expand it over time, so can we."

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