Interview with Tom O’Connor
Game Little big Planet vita
Platform PS Vita
Release Date Autumn 2012 tbc
Sackboy is a Sony Posterboy these days and no new console would be complete without a Little Big Planet of its own. Recently we got the chance to chat to Tom O’Connor of Sony’s Xdev studio who is working on the latest LBP Vita title.
BI : I guess the first question is just to ask about Little Big Planet on the vita perhaps you can give us a quick over view.
TOC : Sure well the first thing we are making people aware of is that it is a full LBP experience it is not a watered down version, it’s all new content that has been created and if anything it probably brings more to the game with the additional features. We have seen a hand held version on the PSP before but perhaps the technology wasn’t as powerful as the Vita so what we can bring to the table is something much more advanced and more inline with the PS3.
BI : The Story mode has always been one of my favorite parts of the LBP games but it still felt like it was just bringing the different parts together rather than a compelling story has that changed?
TOC: We have a new story planet and we released that trailer at E3 and we did that because the stories have always been there, but perhaps they have been a bit whimsical, but the tools are so advanced now that we can develop a compelling experience even just on the “play” side of things and have it be comparable to a game that only has a story mode.
BI : The touch controls of course with the Vita are essential and they seem a great fit with the LBP mentality of Play, Create and Share, can you tell us a bit about how the touch controls have added to the game?
TOC: What we wanted to do was design a game that was instantly recognizable to anyone who has previously played LBP, so you can pick it up and start playing, creating and sharing straight away. Then we can add in the touch controls to enhance the game play.
Tom then gives us a quick demo of the touch controls which are very easy to use, it was one of the early levels so it was just a basic introduction to the touch controls but it had simple yet effective ideas like pulling down on spring boards to shoot Sackboy into the air, he does promise that they get more complex later on but while still remaining effective and not just a gimmick that has been crow-barred into the game.
BI: The community is obviously incredibly creative and inventive how will that be implemented into LBP Vita
TOC: The community is really what keeps the game alive long after release and what has been great is this time around is that we have been able to actually employ some of the really great community guys and get them to work on the game.
The game has been developed by Tarsier along with double Eleven and Tarsier have been involved since day one making the costumes and content for the main game so they really get the game.
BI : The user generated games in create mode have always impressed so are you expecting good things from them again?
TOC: What we have been able to do is to use the touch controls to allow people more freedom in the game so you can create with the normal controls but then you can also use the touch controls to do more complex things like being able to trace a pattern with your finger, with the camera people have been able to sketch up an idea take a pic put it in the game and then design the level on top of that plan using the sketch as a blue print.
Tom then gives another quick look at the level creator and straight away can draw a simple hump back bridge in seconds, takes a pic of the screen behind us and drop it in to the game as a sticker. this allows a lot of freedom for creating new materials and textures in the game.
BI: In previous LBP titles people have created games that aren’t essentially a “platform” style level have you been able to expand on that this time around?
TOC: What we made sure we did with this version is to allow players create games that don’t look like LBP, they used to use work-arounds but this time we said lets just let them do it and let the players create games that that aren’t essentially LBP levels.
Tom shows a quick simple game of Copter which is a side scrolling flying puzzle game and a second one called Ants in your Pants which has a top down view of a picnic table where you use the front and rear touch controls to squish ants trying to get to a food in the middle of the picnic rug. They are simple, quick and inventive games that are nothing like LBP.
BI: In terms of cross over to the PS3 will there be any sharing of content?
TOC: So when we started out we decided to create a whole new separate game, because if you allowed PS3 levels to transfer over you couldn’t use the touch controls and that was something we wanted to avoid. What you can do is that any costumes you buy you can move them over.
BI: That’s great it is looking really good, it seems to have lost some of it rag doll look and the graphics are much smoother.
TOC: That was the charm of the first game it was very much a make and do style but the tools are that far advanced now that we can make things look much better and take textures directly from real life.
BI : So when is it going to be out is it this year? Octoberish for the Christmas rush?
TOC: Around then maybe a bit earlier hopefully, we haven’t set a date yet but for Christmas anyway.
BI: One last one just on the Vita as a machine, what has it been like to develop on?
TOC: It’s great and the good thing is this game uses every feature, the front and rear touch, the tilt, the microphone its got Near support so if you play a level and like it you can drop it in the location and someone nearby can pick it up and play it which promotes content and you can track the levels you like.
LBP on the Vita should hit stores in the coming months and is shaping up to be a console seller.
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