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Elbee23
12-02-2008, 09:09 AM
So you are trying to make your first level. Or perhaps you are a seasoned veteran creator that is feeling a bit dry. Maybe you have been working on an epic masterpiece and all of a sudden you just feel like you can't keep going. Here is some advice to help you think up some fresh ideas, and continue to keep the creative juices flowing.

Don't be afraid to have a break. LBP is a game. It certainly has a fun, deep and interesting creation mode, but no one is forcing you to create levels. Well, at least I hope not... Well anyway, you can't *force* creativity, it just makes things stale and boring. Outside of LBP is, well, the real planet earth as well. Don't forget to spend time in the real world too. :)

A few other ideas to get things going...

Talk about LBP to creative friends. Invite them around and show them some ideas. You never know how they might inspire you to improve old ideas or create in fresh ways.

Play other people's levels. You might be inspired by someone else's work, or you might think something is good, but was poorly implemented. Certainly don't copy in huge detail, that's just bad, but there is no reason why you can't take failing concepts and innovate with them.

Don't be afraid to look externally for new ideas as well. Some ideas might come from the things around you. "What if sackboy were to..." You get the idea. :)

Don't work too hard on one specific project. If you focus too much on one thing, you won't see it with fresh eyes. You may overlook bugs and won't necessarily see what bits may not that good or need to be reworked, rebuilt or removed. It's not a bad thing to be working on a few different ideas at a time so that you can stay fresh in the different areas.

Finally, plan what you are doing. Break up current projects into segments. That way if you have a limited amount of time, then you can think "I'll just build this next segment" or "I'll skip the next part because I feel I can work more on prototypes for this one". Of course you should come back to the other part eventually, but having a big plan will allow you to work on the bits you feel in the mood for, which should help the creative juices flow.

As an extension of this point, be careful with timelines. Some people work really well with deadlines, some suffer because of them. A timeline can help you to keep moving "I'll have these three major segments done by the end of the week" but they can force you in a rut "I didn't get those three things done because they were a) too hard to do in that time b) bugging out and I don't know why c) real life or other things were keeping me busy". Don't stress too much about something that's suppose to be fun! :D

Hope this all helps! :idea:

One more piece of advice, as was pointed out by Gilgamesh and DaSaintFan, sometimes tinkering around with the create mode can help spark the ideas to make a level. I make levels that I call “Librams”, other people have called them Labs, I am sure different people have different names for them. The idea behind this is that it's a level where you just build anything and can test it extensively without any intension of playing that level or publishing it.

These have two purposes, one being to test extensively segments and objects you plan to place into publishable levels, but the other is a more creative one. A Libram is a blank slate. You can make anything you can think of. You aren't bound by a driven story or art design or concept or any other such thing. You just make what you like for the simple purpose of having fun experimenting with things.

After a while, your Libram might start to take on some noticable themes, or you might notice some common ideas, like experimentation with... giant mecha, for example. You might then be inspired to build a story around a few of your good creations... and all of a sudden your creative block is gone! :D

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This was originally published as a response in the “creative block :( “ topic in the ideas section of this forum. You can find the original posting here: http://www.lbpcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5494

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Thanks once again to Gilgamesh and DaSaintFan for their suggestion of mucking about in create mode. I've put those suggestions into my own words. Gilgamesh's post a few points down from this gives some examples of Librams being used to create levels. :)

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The reply that was written originally has been expanded and has been improved, and also incorporated suggestions of the people above. If you found the information helpful, feel free to suggest it be stickied! ;)

Dave-la-kingenbo
12-02-2008, 11:39 AM
I'm glad to see someone being pro-active about helping us that get these creative blocks. Mine started after my fifth level and I still can't get out of it! Although I think some of these points may help.

Gilgamesh
12-02-2008, 12:41 PM
I would like to add to that list that, you don't have to start right off with making an entire level. It's much quicker and easier to make small things first.

Make contraptions, make enemies, make vehicles, make anything you can think of that could be used in the future in one of your levels. Once you've made a few, some ideas should start forming about how to use those objects you've made and you can work from there.

For example :
When I had started playing the beta, I made a lot of contraptions. More specifically, I worked to make a set of working gears, with bolts and motors placed exactly at the center and which worked together. I also made a scorpion as an enemy.

Once that was done, the beta was nearing its final week, so I thought I should publish at least one level. I thought about using the gears I had made and instantly thought of making a gear tower (inspired from the clock tower in Castlevania). I used the scorpion enemy I had made as a kind of guardian to beat on the way to the top.

Once the top of the tower was done, I realized I didn't have enough time to make the second tower I wanted to make, so I opted for putting a boss at the top. To keep with the theme of gears and mechanisms, I thought it would be appropriate to have a mechanical boss.

I decided on having a giant, reptilian-looking boss. I looked for some imagery to help me out with the proportions, and then set out to make the boss.

Once that was done, a good round of playtesting, adding hidden prizes and prize bubbles. And my level was done.

All of that from making a set of gears and a scorpion :)

Elbee23
12-02-2008, 01:15 PM
I would like to add to that list that, you don't have to start right off with making an entire level. It's much quicker and easier to make small things first.

Make contraptions, make enemies, make vehicles, make anything you can think of that could be used in the future in one of your levels. Once you've made a few, some ideas should start forming about how to use those objects you've made and you can work from there.

For example :
When I had started playing the beta, I made a lot of contraptions. More specifically, I worked to make a set of working gears, with bolts and motors placed exactly at the center and which worked together. I also made a scorpion as an enemy.

Once that was done, the beta was nearing its final week, so I thought I should publish at least one level. I thought about using the gears I had made and instantly thought of making a gear tower (inspired from the clock tower in Castlevania). I used the scorpion enemy I had made as a kind of guardian to beat on the way to the top.

Once the top of the tower was done, I realized I didn't have enough time to make the second tower I wanted to make, so I opted for putting a boss at the top. To keep with the theme of gears and mechanisms, I thought it would be appropriate to have a mechanical boss.

I decided on having a giant, reptilian-looking boss. I looked for some imagery to help me out with the proportions, and then set out to make the boss.

Once that was done, a good round of playtesting, adding hidden prizes and prize bubbles. And my level was done.

All of that from making a set of gears and a scorpion :)

That's a good suggestion Gilgamesh. I use what I call Librams to fiddle around with stuff for new ideas and to build prototype objects. I'll have to think how to include them in to the original article. At the moment though it's late here and I need to get up early tomorrow, so I'll have to think about it then.

-- EDIT ---

I've updated my original post with the suggestions from both Gilgamesh and DaSaintFan, who both suggested similar ideas, Gilgamesh being in this thread and DaSaintFan in the "creative block :(" topic mentioned in the credits. Thanks for the suggestions and examples! :)

Once again, if people find this information helpful, please request it to be stickied! :D

aer0blue
12-04-2008, 06:03 PM
I'll give a suggestion of my own... One thing that helps me plenty is music. Listen to a few artists you like... It can motivate you! Even if you put up a CD while creating...it's something. It depends on the person, of course, but it does work for me.

Elbee23
12-05-2008, 10:04 AM
I know I wrote the guide, but I just wanted to say that taking time off can really help. My current level is in the play testing and polishing stages, and it was getting a bit dry and boring constantly tinkering with little bits. I knew what I needed to change, but it was just hard to get the energy to do so.

But with a day off from constantly working on things, I managed to come up with a schematic for a section that needed a major rewrite. The next day, today, I was able to work on and implement that design. What a difference a day off makes! :D

I'll just add one more tip as well while I'm at it. I blog a fair bit, in case you have not realised, and write quite a bit about the current project and what's going on in my head. While working on todays blog, I came up with 3 ideas to fix known issues on my current level while I was typing out loud. Hopefully my verbosity is not too boring to read, but at the very least it allows me to reflect on what I am doing and perhaps give others ideas as I work through the creative process. :)

BloodLustKaNiBaL
12-05-2008, 05:12 PM
I also got that problem and I decided to create small things instead of levels. I'm working on a Bike Hub and a 2 leg walking creature. Problem with everyone is we don't wanna create something that alrdy has been created but there is like 100,000 player thinking the same thing.

Elbee23
12-05-2008, 10:44 PM
I also got that problem and I decided to create small things instead of levels. I'm working on a Bike Hub and a 2 leg walking creature. Problem with everyone is we don't wanna create something that alrdy has been created but there is like 100,000 player thinking the same thing.

Well, the way to overcome that is to just not worry about it. Make something that you would be happy with, or that your friends would enjoy. If you always think from the perspective that someone somewhere must have built something better already, then nothing will ever get built. :rolleyes:

If your level is fun and intersting, it does not have to be a fully original idea to be published. ;)

BloodLustKaNiBaL
12-05-2008, 11:35 PM
Good trick about making levels is team up with friends. Me and Clank are working on one and what's great about it is we can always brainstorm and ask the opinion of the other. We are pretty happy of what we done yet.

OCK
12-05-2008, 11:41 PM
You have created another great resource for creators Elbee23, thank you. Something else I would add is that along with getting out into the real world you can always play a different game! I have been switching between playing Fallout 3, R2 and LBP. Sometimes I hit a total creative block and then I don't even bother with LBP. I will play Fallout for 3 days and then come back to LBP with a renewed energy and enthusiasm and a fresh outlook on things.

BloodLustKaNiBaL
12-06-2008, 01:35 AM
You have created another great resource for creators Elbee23, thank you. Something else I would add is that along with getting out into the real world you can always play a different game! I have been switching between playing Fallout 3, R2 and LBP. Sometimes I hit a total creative block and then I don't even bother with LBP. I will play Fallout for 3 days and then come back to LBP with a renewed energy and enthusiasm and a fresh outlook on things.

Haha I tryed that but I always end up playing MGS4 and then the only thing I wanna do is a MGS level. But there are sooooo mcuh MGS levels.

Colby
12-06-2008, 02:18 AM
Level making can be difficult, well for me it is. It's hard sometimes to use the physics of the game creatively especially when an idea isn't working out.

BloodLustKaNiBaL
12-06-2008, 02:21 AM
Level making can be difficult, well for me it is. It's hard sometimes to use the physics of the game creatively especially when an idea isn't working out.

You definitly need a good idea of what you wanna create before trying to create it. Or you're just gonna go nowhere

Colby
12-06-2008, 02:36 AM
Yeah true. I like listening to music while i'm trying to think of something, that helps, for some reason.

chillum007
12-06-2008, 03:54 AM
I like to just start doodleing on a piece of paper - eventually i come up with ideas that i would never have in the game. And then when i get into the game and start putting these ideas together, I come up with new ideas which would never occur on paper! it just flows. for example in my latest level "surf's up" I had no idea I was going to put a bungee jump in it until I got to that bit while creating - I had previously been planning the level using pencil and paper, but never had the bungee idea at that point.

I guess my point is that different ideas come at different times and in different situations, variety is the key, dont just stare at the screen beating yourself up that you cant think of anything. A lot of my ideas come from just seeing things around while out and about as well.

Happy creating!

UmJammerSully
12-14-2008, 08:47 PM
Real nice advice Elbee. One thing I want to add, which is where I get a lot of inspiration from, is looking at other games that you like. If you can figure out what makes your favourite level in your favourite game so awesome then you're onto a winner.

docpac
12-14-2008, 09:58 PM
I don't know if this will help get creative juices flowing but it works for me. I have to totally agree with the tinkering in create mode idea. It's like sketching in LBP and is extremely useful. The final section of The Domain went through 10 different evolutions before the idea finally set in.

My little tip..

Play and study the storymode levels repeatedly to see how they were put together. Some levels like the Meerkat Kingdom, my favorite, can give you really cool ideas and tips on how to layer your levels and decorate with thin layers. It's also really helpful to view the settings of the obstacles you win by playing the storymode. Doing these two things can give you great ideas for your level designs, obstacles, and contraptions.

Neverynnal
12-15-2008, 12:06 AM
Yeah thats a really good point docpac. I replayed all the levels, after making my first level, and mimicked a lot of the things that MM in create mode. I believe for beginning creators this is probably the best way to learn the mechanics and form some ideas.

Personally, I dreamed my last 2 levels and then drew them out the best I could when I woke up...can you tell I play too much LBP :arg:

chillum007
12-15-2008, 12:35 AM
LOL! thats awesome - dreaming LBP! I haven't done that yet but when I was feeling sick and was in bed recently, I couldn't get this image of sackboy, trapped in a hole under some rocks, out of my head.....

Neverynnal
12-15-2008, 01:02 AM
Well thats just me...I dream of whatever occupies my mind before I sleep and thats usually the girlfriend of LBP lmao

GangsterGarfield
12-15-2008, 02:00 AM
Great tips, I'll definatly have to use some of them, I seem to have have a block of ideas lately....

For some reason whenever I mess around in create mode, it always involves a string, and a sponge... O_o

Little Big Planet Legend
12-21-2008, 10:20 PM
if this helps any one i worked out using the controller that the sack boy is roughly 11cm tall :):)

SuperPhillip
12-21-2008, 11:51 PM
Circulate blood flow to the lower regions. Don't tighten up. The area will only turn redder.

Liquid
12-29-2008, 06:52 PM
Nice recommendations :)

Neverynnal
12-29-2008, 07:12 PM
Circulate blood flow to the lower regions. Don't tighten up. The area will only turn redder.

Especially this one. It's key.

mrsupercomputer
12-30-2008, 04:13 AM
Great advice everyone. Very helpful. I'll throw in my two cents as well...

I've found that sometimes I fall in love with the vision of the level I've built in my head so much that it's hard to build something in game that actually lives up to it. Frustration and disappointment would take place of creativity. This resulted in my starting to build a level only to discard it hours later. Finally, I realized that if I wanted to actually finish a level, I would have to be willing to forgo certain elements. This was a bummer, but in the process I discovered that by allowing my vision to change, I would also develop new, and sometimes much better, ideas.

So, my advice is, don't get disappointed if your end product isn't exactly like you envisioned it. Maybe it's better!

[OGM]CrAcKhEaD
12-30-2008, 04:22 AM
Great advice everyone. Very helpful. I'll throw in my two cents as well...

I've found that sometimes I fall in love with the vision of the level I've built in my head so much that it's hard to build something in game that actually lives up to it. Frustration and disappointment would take place of creativity. This resulted in my starting to build a level only to discard it hours later. Finally, I realized that if I wanted to actually finish a level, I would have to be willing to forgo certain elements. This was a bummer, but in the process I discovered that by allowing my vision to change, I would also develop new, and sometimes much better, ideas.

So, my advice is, don't get disappointed if your end product isn't exactly like you envisioned it. Maybe it's better!

I also had problems to switch from my head to the games. The trick I found is drawing and writing. I make some blueprints and had comments. And sometime realize that some part can't be done before even touching the controller.

I had a big amount of stuff i wanted to create at the beggining and ended disapointed to a lot of these ideas. Wich resulted that I went through all my ideas pretty quick without having a nice result that i'm satisfied. I was also out of creative juice. Lately the juice came back and now that I know how to control it, I even have mroe and more ideas everyday stacking on my sheets :) I love it!

Hexagohn
01-05-2009, 09:54 PM
Ahh very helpful thanks elbee. Sometimes just brainstorming ideas and writing them up on paper can be quite helpful. For Timmy's Dream just about every obstacle I made I drew up on paper first, like blueprints. Obviously some of the stuff you draw won't work out but the ones that don't you just scrap and go with something else you thought of and wrote down.

Astrosimi
01-05-2009, 11:18 PM
Nice advice! I had made a few levels before on MyMoon dedicated to testing new devices! But I hadn't thought of anything else! Thanks!

Takelow
01-13-2009, 04:31 PM
Hi,

I just would like to add a proposal to increase a little creative juice: Think about a general theme and project to do a serie of level. Use all the Elbee advices for the making of the first level...
Then write on a sheet of paper all the idea you can't create in this level (because it didn't fit the level design, the theme or because your thermometer is too hot).
I can tell you that when the first level is finsihed, you will find all the idea necessary in order to start constructing the second level...

I'am actually experiencing such a thing. I choosed a theme, planified a serie of level, and construct my first one as a "movie teaser"... I can't put all my ideas in this level. Then, my "sheet of paper" is now full for at least three or four next levels...

ConfusedCartman
01-18-2009, 01:43 AM
Nice post. It's been added to Tips, Tricks, and Everything Else for Creators (http://www.lbpcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?p=116367#post116367). :)