• Creator Spotlight 8 - coyote_blue

    The Enigmatic Engineer
    Interview conducted by MrsSpookyBuz

    For those who know him, coyote_blue remains an enigma. He's the glitch in your imagination, he's the fleeting shadow just beyond your field of vision. His knowledge, wisdom and application is easy to see, but hard to summarise. His killing blows are delivered not only by the sword, but by his cutting wit. Hold on tight, folks, this is gonna be one heck of ride...


    Beautiful visuals await you in coyote_blue's Lone Ninja series

    The Low-Down

    What video games did you enjoy playing before LBP was released?
    I play everything Bioware releases, most things Ubisoft, Naughty Dog, and Insomniac release, and nothing with a sport prominently featured on the box. I also only buy one first-person shooter every 18 months or so, just to remind me that I generally hate them, no matter how impressive they get. Modern Warfare 2 is a particularly creepy gem... it actually makes most of the veterans I know uncomfortable. Remember kids: violence is only fun until it's real!

    What was the first full level you ever built? And what was it like?
    What is now Lone Ninja 4 is based on my first level. I had just bought MGS, and I knew ZERO about logic, thermo, or anything. I was highly proud of a dissolve Sackboy-shaped brick, painted black with the Mm ninja stuck on it, that threw shuriken in ONLY ONE you could sneak up on the guy from one side, then drag him into a pit of spikes...THAT ACTUALLY KILLED HIM! My genius couldn't be stopped. I had a highly bizarre paint-gun fight versus an Oni (not the story Oni), and the original Bullet Train to Heck - Sakunaga flew up on a single winch, which broke off at the top. He was supposed to fall back into his castle and explode, without killing the player, which he did AT LEAST 22.37% of the time. Genius, I tell you. I have no idea why I deleted that one.

    The original Sakunaga, with Pink Wrestler face and electric combat boots, is still on display in my Moon. I keeps it real.

    What levels have you published to date?
    Lone Ninja Episode 1: The Holy Sword Kaminarito
    Lone Ninja Episode 2: Lessons of the Thunder God
    Lone Ninja Episode 3: Race to Ninja Village
    Lone Ninja Episode 4: Assault on Sakunaga Castle
    Lone Ninja Episode 5: Trouble at Sakigahara
    Lone Ninja Episode 6: A Thousand Lives a Day
    AETHERNAUTS! "Maiden Voyage"

    Which of these is your own favourite? And why?
    Tough call. Lone Ninja 5 was the level that ended up closest to my original idea. Lone Ninja 6 is probably my favorite, though, because the player can trigger a Bad Ending. ESPECIALLY if he can't be bothered to read. And yes, I meant to say HE. Girls read.

    Are there any other creators who inspire you?
    You did. I played through Hyper Cube series and learned some very important things about what makes LBP fun, and I made a conscious decision not to try and take Mm all the way out of my levels, as some folk do to "increase realism"...dude, we're freakin' sacks running around, here. I think MotherMisty's work is another example of Fun for Its Own Sake.

    Which is not to say that moody levels aren't awesome. I remember a series called "Little Big Land", where the first thing you see is a sack-wife hurling herself into the sea to avoid some nameless evil. I ended up echoing that in Lone Ninja 3. NinjaMicWZ's LOST IDOLS Zero is still the best "tone poem" I've encountered: "You're on a boat, in a storm. Deal with it."

    Miglioshin and deftmute are probably the best examples I'd point out for How to Make Difficult Fun. You'll note that neither of them have a single level with the word HARDEST in the title.

    GrantusUK proved with the "Woveneye" series that what I was planning for Lone Ninja, was doable.

    Morgana25 still makes me jealous of her lighting effects.

    CuzFeeshe showed me how to thread a mini-game into a storyline.

    Wexfordian is more of a "Muse"... I never know what to expect from his latest, but it always knocks me for a loop.

    Matt82's "Eddy Mitter" is one of the reasons AETHERNAUTS exists. He proved that LBP's "mythos" has a lot of room for interpretation.

    TheSeraphor's one to watch...LittleBigFantasy isn't the first attempt I've seen at turn-based combat, but I think the series will eventually become one of the best. I hope he keeps at it.

    I hope KornDawwg finishes The Perpetual Distance.

    Sasuke's "Mukashi Mukashi" and the triple-authored "Shinobi Moon" series are anime-action levels that caused me to try and up my own game.

    What’s the worst thing that’s happened while creating?
    The thrown furniture of Lone Ninja 6 is my permanent enemy. I've rebuilt that scene at least 20 times, and called in bigger switch-nerds than myself (I'm looking squarely at YOU, LogicPack team), and it STILL breaks about 2% of the time, for no particular reason.

    I also hate lifts. Even if you make everything stiff on a grid, you can't make the lift flush with the sides of the elevator shaft - eventually, that thing will get stuck.

    What’s your pet hate in LBP?
    Tech: The level search engine, and how one gets on it, is broken. LBPC shouldn't be absolutely essential to my finding good levels, but it is. See the next question for my thoughts on a fix.

    Players: Griefing. If you put an insult on the photo uploader, moderate someone out of spite, or give a level 1 star because you think that's funny, you are being evil. Pure and simple. I don't care about your excuses or explanations, that you were just bored, or that it's not a big deal. I don't care that you probably will never be caught. Enjoying the suffering of strangers is evil, and if you're doing it, you need to look that fact right in the eye, and decide if that's who you want to be.

    I have come to forgive bad stuff that happens because of dumbness. We're all dumb in our way. So H4H is forgiveable, even if it causes problems. Level spamming, in light of the broken search engine, is understandable. And do we actually expect most younger players NOT to want Prize bubbles that fart? Or Bomb survival? Or to want to copy others who are doing something well?

    If you worked for Media Molecule, what tool/object/material would you have liked to see developed?
    Pipe Dreams:

    - Destroy level search/ajudication process and start over. Remove all tags that JUDGE a level - "Rubbish" does not give me useful information, either in Create Mode, or as a player.

    - Replace with nothing but descriptions - "Platformer", "Horror", "Comedy", "Hoists".

    - Let the Creator choose three of his own tags before publishing, and let his choices be weighted for three people. Head start on the trolls, and H4Hers won't bother doing the extra work anyway.

    - Let the Creator set an age range for his own level. We already need it - a lot of levels are too hard, or focus on chopped up doll parts covered in red paint. Don't censor - prepare. Let users filter by age range.

    - If a player wants to praise or bash a level, he ought to do it in Comments, to the author's face. If the author gets ornery and picks a fight about it, all Block Sender and Good Grief rules already apply.

    - Replays only count as plays from the scoreboard. No more making things impossible just to increase your plays.

    - Take control of stars away from players. Make it an algorithm instead: More hearts than plays = 1 star. Player did not complete, no heart = 2 stars (player vote cannot count multiple times). 1 play, completed, no heart = 3 stars. Complete play, heart = 4 stars. More than one play + heart, or play/comment/heart = 5 stars. More than 3 plays = 4 or 5 stars.

    - Auto-search level descriptions for "H4H" and "Heart for Heart". Any levels that have these phrases, or that are exact copies of existing levels, will be deleted when the Cool Levels time expires. Trust me - that guy's gotten his trophy and moved on, anyway...and now he's cloggin' up my server. Isn't a million levels a high enough number for you?

    - New search parameters: Highest Plays to Hearts Ratio; Most Replayed. Then story levels don't compete with survival challenges. With stars handled by math, they'll mean something again.

    - Handle Powerup. On selecting an empty crater, you would choose "new level" or "new handle powerup". "New Powerup" would give you a much smaller, more restrictive create mode, and a handle. The handle would have only one tweak setting: "Swing" or "Trigger", which would change Sackboy's R1 animation between "slap" and "paintinate". The handle would also have a switch wire, obviously, but it could only wire to emitters, winches, or pistons on the handle object.

    - You mount anything that fits in thermo to the handle, and save. The object can then appear in levels as a powerup. For physics purposes, the object would be the same as a paintinator, mostly not there. It's the best way I can think of to put swords and stuff into LBP - which trust me, thousands of players are already doing - without Mm having to specifically add melee weapons, and therefore sanction any kind of "serious violence". And hey, if you wanted to make a Sheep Launcher, or a Magic Wand that produces rocket cheetahs, you could do that too.

    More Doable:

    - Add a tweak setting to Magic Mouths: Trigger on Close. Boss taunts you, then attacks as soon as you hit circle. Would also make "cutout acting" more dynamic and watchable. xkappax doing Wish Fulfillment comics on LBP, anyone?

    - Make Dark Matter and Dissolve "disappearable" would do the trick. I'm tired of messing with all those slivers.

    - More interactive music objects. I will keep paying for it. I promise.

    - A Font Pack. No more Kidnapper Font when you write a message on a level to the creator and upload it.

    If Mm wants me to sign away the IP rights to any of those ideas, I'd do it in a minute, and not even ask for a cut. (I probably already did that by agreeing to the EULA.)


    Amazing boss-fight time: Prove yourself, Ninja!

    Digging Deeper

    You have a fond interest in mythology, including Japanese history and folklore. Was it this interest that inspired you to create the Lone Ninja levels?
    No. Most ninja levels involve running jumps from one tiny piece of glass to another over a flaming electric spike. That might be fun for other folk, but not me. I made Lone Ninja so I could sneak up on enemies and NOT jump on their heads.

    Once I knew I was making more than one level, I needed a storyline. And I physically can't write a Japanese fantasy story without attempting to put Shinto in there.

    Aethernauts is mythology for its own sake. Sinawava Canyon is a real place, where the Paiyute used to worship Old Man Coyote. The ship at the end is modeled after a Tibetan thunderbolt (which is also coincidentally in Uncharted 2). The level has a secret bubble area taken from the Epic of Gilgamesh. My Nerd Meter is always maxed.

    In addition to the great look and feel of the series, the six Lone Ninja levels contain some stunning, unique ninja moves as well as imaginative multiple boss fights. How difficult was it for you to get these right and what particular problems did you encounter?
    Refer to my earlier answers on "first level" and "most epic fail". The most important part of any of the moves, though, is to balance excess, player control, and unintended consequence. If it's not excessive (Bad guy flies in the air, something explodes unneccessarily), it's no fun. If I do too much, it's a roller coaster, and not what I'm trying to do. And if the player manages to use my machinery and gets killed or thrown out of the level, it's no fun.

    So, from the mythical, beautiful landscapes of Japan, you took us to the clinical, sterile setting of outer space in the first part of your new series, Aethernauts. Was this extreme contrast an easy transition to make, and was the introduction of LBP water a curse or blessing?
    Coyote Moonbase is what it is because none of the Mm backgrounds fit, and I didn't want to go "stars on black field" any more than I had to. I picked three solid colors and repeated them - military and paramilitary groups often have unit colors. Old Man Coyote is known for flashiness and poor taste, so I picked Mayan gold for his base color, then consulted a color wheel to complete the "Native American Vegas Showgirl Mercenaries in Space" effect I was looking for.

    For the Away Team Mission episodes, each dream Coyote Corps visits will obey its own "fashion laws." If Remiel Outseam ever visits LittleBigNihon, it will look just like Lone Ninja does.

    As for water... I just have to decide whether a particular level needs it. Pirate levels are now easier to make, and I'm going to have to go back and fix water where it appears in Lone Ninja.

    Water's fun to have, but I haven't caught myself saying "Dude! Now I can do X" yet.

    And where can we expect our valiant Aethernauts to take us in the future?
    Anywhere. Because it's a TV show format, each episode can have a different focus. "Like a Sack Shot Into Space" will be a space shooter. "In the Garden of the Serpent Goddess" will be just there. I'm also thinkin' Ragnarok, maybe Celtic myth... After that, I'll mostly just try to avoid whichever Dragon of Myth Morgana is working on. I so wish I had made Dragons of Myth: Egypt myself! (*jealous twitch*)

    Are you a creator who sees a single level or project through to its end, or are you happier working on a variety of levels at the same time?

    Ha ha ha!

    Are there any real-life experiences that have either helped or hindered you while playing and creating on LBP?
    I got my BA in Theatre. I studied directing. I was already in love with storytelling, but the education taught me a lot about how to take the great idea out of my mind and put it out there in a form someone else can enjoy. I studied Shakespeare, and when I learned how much of a sellout he was, I stopped being disdainful of selling out. Selling out is only shameful when it erases your unique voice in the process.

    There's no point in getting angry at other peoples' tastes. If I want people to stop skipping cut scenes or text, I have to make the text worth sitting through. If I'm fed up with playing a particular type of level, I need to be willing to provide an alternative.

    My internet is bad where I live, and that changes the way I interface with LBP. I don't do multiplayer much because it's difficult to do here. I wish I had more "nights with the mates" stories about listening to you giggle over voice chat, like the others. (*fat tears*) I'M SO DEPRIVED! (*sniffle*) I'LL NEVER FIND THE CRAIC!

    And maybe you wanted me to mention the 'fought-in-a-war bit', too. Let's just say that it refines the mind. Confronting mortality forced me to make a lot of choices about what matters to me, to fight vigorously for those things, and to stop burning energy on things that are not on that list.

    And finally, if you had the opportunity, would you be a Bond villain or a Doctor Who monster?

    Bond villain. Bond villains usually have power and attractive hangers-on...Daleks are eighteen inches tall, and spend their lives filled with hate inside a pepper pot. This is a choice? I've got a tougher question that I pulled from a radio show here...

    You can have one superpower, and you are the only person in the world who has it. You can choose flight, or invisibility.

    Flight allows you to fly anywhere within the Earth's atmosphere, at speeds of up to 250 mph. You can only carry what you could carry while standing normally. Invisibility turns what you're wearing invisible, but anything you pick up afterwards becomes visible, and you still make noise.

    Which would you choose?

    They're both impressive. But if I had a choice, I'd still choose to be a Lone Ninja!


    One of the many crazy moments from
    coyote_blue's Aethernauts: "Maiden Voyage"

    Our Conclusions

    This creator is difficult to summarise, and I'm struggling to recall the right word. But if there's a creator who I'd like to be with in an English country pub, and have a few conversations over a few pints, it would be coyote_blue. He's astute, polite, witty and wise, but perfectly warm and endearing. His levels are crafted by skill, care and patience, and without exception turn into involving, exciting showpieces. If you have a few minutes to spare, then I suggest you DON'T play his Lone Ninja series or Aethernauts. For to spend a few rushed minutes with these works of art will not do them justice. If playing cheap bomb levels is like going to Burger King, then playing coyote_blue's levels is like dining on a banquet of finest cuisine. Play them and you will experience true excellence. Ooh, I've remembered the word... immaculate.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Creator Spotlight 8 - coyote_blue started by ConfusedCartman View original post
    Comments 27 Comments
    1. MrsSpookyBuz's Avatar
      MrsSpookyBuz -
      Sorry to go slightly O/T, but just a quick question...

      I've given thanks to more or less everyone that's commented here, but the thanks have disappeared. Seems the same on Cartman's opening post, too. There are no thanks anymore.

      Any reason?
    1. Kern's Avatar
      Kern -
      Yeah spooky my rep just dropped but maybe its just teething problems with the new uprgrade
    1. coyote_blue's Avatar
      coyote_blue -
      It's not just my hands, Ccubbage (AKA LunarLandingBarrel-Master), but thanks.

      As for Dame Spooky: you heard the man. No take-backs! Sounds like I need to start stockpiling leave time, and get my racing-nerd buddy to loan me a right-side steering wheel car...for purely study-related purposes, of course.

      I've been noting there's sometimes a cooldown period for thanks. I've seen people answer threads in real-time with no thanks button, but then I come back and it's there.
    1. GerbilGingerKing's Avatar
      GerbilGingerKing -
      Great interview now i have to go play some of your levels
    1. Keldur's Avatar
      Keldur -
      Oh, it's great to see that you were spotlighted!

      You know that I've been pretty much following your work since the very start, and the good thing about it is that it just got better AND better! (not to forget mentioning BETTER!)
      Seriously, the lone ninja series sure do stand out in my hearted list.

      And Aethernauts didn't dissapoint. Oh boy, I truly loved some of those trials.
      Specially that one that I managed to cunningly break by suing the paintinator in cunning ways!

      All in all congratualtions, you are a clear example of a well deserved spotlight.
    1. jwwphotos's Avatar
      jwwphotos -
      Whoops! I thought I had posted here so please excuse the late reply!

      Amazing and wonderful interview of an awesomely cool creator. Inspirational stuff by any sense of the word. Truly an honor to read and so happy to see you get a spotlight! Congrats!

      Many thanks to MrsSpookyBuz the Empress of the interview! Such a delight to see these and am constantly impressed by your thoughtful questions and kind words on what has been a feast of info on my favorite creators!

      Thanks again and congrats to you both! Well done!
    1. Rogar's Avatar
      Rogar -
      Very enjoyable read, I'll have to play some of your levels some time...

      And I pick invisibility. Flight can be achieved by technology already, and I'd only use it to get to work and back a bit faster, while invisibility will allow me to get some work done without being bothered. Or was I supposed to pick up a super hero career?
    1. Gravel's Avatar
      Gravel -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rogar View Post
      Very enjoyable read, I'll have to play some of your levels some time...

      And I pick invisibility. Flight can be achieved by technology already, and I'd only use it to get to work and back a bit faster, while invisibility will allow me to get some work done without being bothered. Or was I supposed to pick up a super hero career?
      I think you gotta take technology out of the equation... satellites allow us to see without being seen now... don't know if its cost-effective to launch a personal satellite... but I for one don't want to do anymore work either.

      Still a great interview Spooky!
    1. coyote_blue's Avatar
      coyote_blue -
      I find that most people who pick invisibility think that way - it's valid to argue that flight is maybe a quaint superpower. It would be charitable to say that invisibility choosers are pragmatists.
    1. Tanuki75's Avatar
      Tanuki75 -
      The changes Coyote suggests for ratings, tags and stars are raised time again by the community and would be consistent with MM's overall LBP ethos - of encouraging creators be they amateur or expert. Minimalizing animosity in the community can only make economic sense to Sony and MM. For every friend I have in LBP another has left because of the problems Coyote reitterates.

      Great interview, and I'll check out more Coyote levels. From what I've played so far, I remember thinking - well balanced and FUN boss fights. Epic scale to his projects and fantastic art. A thermo wizard!
    1. amazingflyingpoo's Avatar
      amazingflyingpoo -
      Woo-hoo! I didn't expect to see a reference to my LittleBigLand series in there Great interview you two!
    1. NinjaMicWZ's Avatar
      NinjaMicWZ -
      I'm a total junkie for anything to do with ninja's and feudal era warfare... so I always liked the Lone Ninja series. and what I liked most about it was that it promoted the idea of being a ninja iconically and in terms of gameplay... not just in theme and challenge. The big splash style finishers, stealth kills, lore, charisma, and stylishness of it made it feel less like an Islands Level expansion, and more like a fanzine of Lone Wolf and Cub, Ninja Scroll, or Blade of the Immortal.
    1. coyote_blue's Avatar
      coyote_blue -
      @ Tanuki75 - that means a lot to me. Your OutRun series is probably my favorite vehicle series on LBP.
      @ amazingflyingpoo - Yep, that's you I was talking about. I encountered you and NinjaMicWZ at about the same time. Gore doesn't always translate well into LBP, but moodiness does, and both of you guys can bring that to the table in spades.

      Which is why I think that search overhaul is so important. I'm not going to sift through every bad Silent Hill level to find RoseScythe's awesome Silent Hill level. That hurts me and RoseScythe both. (The level in question isn't at that PSN...I forget which one it is.)

      I hope the queue thing is almost done, at least...being able to link LBP to LBPC would really plug a hole. Once that's done, I might even join some archaeology expeditions...what gems are already in that pile of a million Poo Survivals, waiting to be unearthed and catalogued?
    1. Incinerator22's Avatar
      Incinerator22 -
      I'll keep this short and sweet, coyote, the first time I played lone ninja episode six I was completely overwhelmed. It was teeming with innovation the whole way through, and I couldn't wait to play the others. I've never ever played another level where I felt like those stickered sack-cutout pieces of cardboard had real personalities. I played the whole series through, #1-6, and the more I played it the more I loved it. I never had a chance to say it on the threads, so I'll say it here. Great levels, all six of them. You're an amazing creator. Stay that way.
    1. Apu's Avatar
      Apu -
      Wow another important addition to my creators list, whom I would have never known had it not been for these great spotlight articles. My browsing methods are most hearted,most rated and Cool pages. When bored I go on newest levels and play all unamed levels lol.

      Nothing more I can add to what already has been written. Finally a guy that hates first person shooters and loves insomniac,naughtydog aka platforming games like jak n daxter,ratchet n clank.

      Simply loved the ninja levels( I mean just look at my psn ) Personally speaking a very helpful chap.
    1. Matto-kun's Avatar
      Matto-kun -
      Hi everyone, I'm new here AND I LOOOOOVE LBP!
    1. Matto-kun's Avatar
      Matto-kun -
      Can anyone here help show me the ropes? ~?
    1. MrsSpookyBuz's Avatar
      MrsSpookyBuz -
      Quote Originally Posted by Matto-kun View Post
      Can anyone here help show me the ropes? ~?
      Hello, and welcome to LBPC! I'm sure there are plenty of people that can show you the ropes, but this isn't really the right place to ask. Why not post a thread in the Introduction Forum, or the 'Find Other Happy Gadders' section.

    1. coyote_blue's Avatar
      coyote_blue -
      Depends on what you're lookin' for, Matto-kun. Kaiyote-sempai is ready for you. Send me a PM sometime if you have a question.
    1. Rogar's Avatar
      Rogar -
      Quote Originally Posted by coyote_blue View Post
      It would be charitable to say that invisibility choosers are pragmatists.
      Well, that or perverts.