I love it when a plan comes together. So I’ve been working with the guys at Tarsier Studios, one of the developers behind “build your own level” platformer Little Big Planet, for the past few weeks and together we’ve built a ‘T3’s Tech Factory of Fun’ level which you’ll be able to play when the PS Vita game comes out this Friday.
Now, I’m a huge fan of Little Big Planet and always loved the idea of making a T3 themed world for our readers, but the release of the PS Vita version fell within weeks of the T3 Gadget Awards, which was the record-breaking event last year that kicked off our best ever 12 months, so the idea of a celebratory timeline level seemed like a good plan.
After all, at E3 2008, Sony revealed all its annual financial figures through the medium of Little Big Planet rather than a dull Powerpoint presentation and that had always stuck in my mind as a great way to make stats fun. However, if it was down to me it would just be full of pictures of my cat, so I thought it best to get the professionals in.
PlayStation put us in contact with Mark Hall, one of their kings of the level-building community. The fact he was seconded to Tarsier Studios, one of the developers behind the game, at the time certainly didn’t hurt either. This is what we came up with…
Tarsier Studios are based in Malmö in Sweden, so there were a lot of emails and Dropbox links back and forth over the course of a fortnight, with storyboards, screen shots and rough videos. It was fascinating how it evolved – we’ve grown used to doubling up as developers with T3: iPad Edition, but this was something else.
I was clear that I wanted it to be fun to play as well as telling the story of T3’s year; sure, it needs to work on a promotional level, but gamers have to want to download it and only a few of them will be happy to sit there admiring our two PPA Awards.
So we tried to make the most use of the many PS Vita inputs to keep players amused and interacting. The factory setting was Mark’s idea, as was Issue 1 coming off the printing press – he took a snap of the cover on Google Images and it was suddenly in the game.
Really, it’s a testament to Little Big Planet’s level-building engine that you can get such great results in such a short time – even if you haven’t got your own professional level-builder on speed dial.
While I was concerned initially that the ‘Our Big Fat Great Year’ theme could grate, but I think the game’s aesthetic lightness of touch mixed with the self-deprecating tone of the magazine – ‘Museum of Self Back-Slappery’ etc – makes it work.
Now, I just can’t wait to play it. Until this week it’s only resided on Tarsier’s servers, so the above final playthrough video is as ‘hands on’ as I’ve got. Roll on Friday, when I’ll not only be uploading my review, I’ll be downloading our level…
For full story visit T3.com
EDIT: Not only has the level gone live on the LBP Community, it’s top of the trending charts…
Check out the level’s own community page here