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Improvisation #1

To illustrate the entire creation process, I have chosen to demonstrate my first LittleBigPlanet level; Improvisation #1. To play the level search for the title under the username: Berg443 location: Antarctica.

1) Range and Limitations

  • My detailed analysis of LBP's core design can be found in my four part Review & Repair

2) Influence

  • Everything in a LBP level aside from the very boundaries of the stage must be created. This means that what's safe, dangerous, or otherwise influential to any possible type of gameplay that the LBP core design can sustain must be created. Therefore, any created element can be used to influence the player is a vast variety of ways depending on how the level is designed. 
  • Despite this fact, LBP is a platformer at its core and many of the same influences we've internalized from games like Super Mario Brothers carry over to LBP including how we tackle enemies and go after coins/points. Understanding how the form of one's LBP level relates to other games is key to tapping into the network of associations a given player will probably have.

3) The Game Idea

  • I had originally come up with the ideas for Improvisation #1 before I ever got my hands on LittleBigPlanet.
  • From my large list of ideas, one of the ideas was a Kandinsky level based on some of my favorite abstract paintings from one of my favorite artists. I figured platforming around on the simple shapes and bold colors would be interesting enough for a level. 

  • I looked to paintings like the one above for inspiration. I also looked at Kandinsky's paintings from his "Improvisation" series.
  • Another idea from the list is for a level that uses musical sounds to create a harmonizing melody. As the player moves closer to the end of the level and as the player platforms more boldly, the generated music would sound more cohesive while matching with the player's platforming tempo and prowess. 
  • I decided to combine these two ideas harmonizing around the concept of improvisation. The abstract, non structured, freedom of the Kandinsky paintings (form) will influence a similar freewheeling, intersecting style of platforming. And the musical, positional sound design will blend with these two ideas to create a circular, playful flow throughout the level that moves the player in any and all directions. For examples of my piano improvisation look here.
  • By harmonizing the form, gameplay, and sound design in this way, depending on the execution, this game idea falls somewhere in quadrant I. or IV. (inside the red box. see below)

4) Play and Push

  • To push the form of the Kandinsky painting and how it relates to the basic platforming gameplay...

  1. Arrange the elements/shapes so the player can jump from one to the next.
  2. Increase the spacing between some elements and add jump pads to move around giving the platforming some variety
  3. Pop the 2D painting into 3D by layering shapes and using the 3 lanes and 4 wafer thin layers.
  4. Make some of the elements move.
  • To push the musical sound design...
  1. Position sound objects to play notes when the player moves past them
  2. Limit the sound range to one instrument.
  3. Have a variety of switch activated sounds.
  4. Organize the base notes against the higher melody line according to the surrounding level elements so that a multi part song is created based on the natural ups and downs of platforming.
  •  To push the platforming design....
  1. Make each shape a unique platforming opportunity whether moving to, on, or from the shape. 
  2. Implement grabable objects so the player can maintain control.
  3. Utilize the momentum based jump to allow the player to platform far beyond Sackboy's core standard jump height. 
  4. Allow multiple paths so players aren't forced to go from the beginning of the level to the end in a linear fashion.

5) Development

  • I've worked for about a week on this level.
  • Experienced saving issues. Good thing I saved several backups copies.
  • Painting shapes is more difficult than I thought it would be. A wide range of colors aren't provided. Being forced to used stickers is troublesome.

6) Polish

I haven't completed all the polish passes on the level at this point. I want to let things settle and get a lot of feedback from other players before I finish things off. So before I talk about polish, I'll discus a few topics that pertain to Improvisation #1 this week.

Topic #1: Shapes & Space

Topic #2: Alternate Paths

Topic #3: Points and (P)Layered Level Design

Topic #4: Counterpoint: Suspension

Topic #5: (P)layered Elements

Watch a video here.

Stay tuned.

update: This article is continued here.

« LBP Workshop: Shapes & Space | Main | Storytelling Through Function pt.1 »

Reader Comments (1)

Thank you for post.

November 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArtist Paintings

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