At this point you’re probably vaguely aware of the Community Game Jam. We thought that article detailing what it was like to be there would be an interesting read for you, but of course it wouldn’t be fair for us to tell you all about how much fun we had without sharing what we’ve learned while we were at MM Towers!
The version of the game that we had access to was by no means final and the time that we had with the game was nowhere near enough to experience all it has to offer. Also, keep in mind as well that there was a fair amount of partying, sleep deprivation, giggly girlish joy, and overall awesome that may have somewhat clouded our memories, so take this list as an indication of the power of the new game and understand that it may be subject to change between now and release.
So, many thanks to everyone at Media Molecule and Sony for being such fantastic hosts. Also many thanks to all the creators at the Creator Jam, it was an absolute pleasure meeting you all it wouldn't have been possible to put together this information to share with the community without your help over the last week:
Wexfordian, StevenI, jump_button, jackofcourse, Poms, Julesyjules, Steve_big_guns, Anpostteller, rtm223, Jaeyden, FULLGORR, comphermc, JulesyJules, GruntosUK.
Click through for the full (and rather exhaustive!) article!
Interface Updates and General Stuff
- Objects can be hidden, to edit things behind them.
- Preview option allows all objects that are invisible in play mode to be made invisible in create.
- Multiple select of objects (equivalent to ctrl-click on a PC) as well as box select.
- Connectors are stiff by default.
- When rotating objects, you can snap to a given angle - any multiple of 5 degrees.
- Popit updates
- Fullscreen mode (optional).
- Categories can be collapsed and also skipped for faster searching.
- There is a section detailing everything used in the level - very useful for material / sticker pallette.
- New create tools
- UV tool (possible placeholder name) - allows you to rotate and shift the texture on a material.
- Advanced glue - allows you to select two objects to directly glue, rather than just objects that are adjacent.
- Keyboard and Mouse support - uses standard keyboard shortcuts and should be possible to enter distances etc. using keyboard (not implemented in the version we played).
- Plasma Hazard, with colour tweaks.
- Visual overhaul is amazing, all of the effects (fire / smoke / lighting etc.) look beautiful. In general everything looks crisper and more detailed / polished.
- Competitive Scoring modes in multiplayer
- Complete thermo overhaul - more intelligent & flexible system. Full details unknown.
Fullscreen Popit. Great for quickly finding stickers.
Switches and Related Changes
- Wires are pulled from the center of the switch rather than off to the side.
- You can connect a switch to something that already has a wire connected - the new one replaces the old one.
- You can zoom the camera whilst holding a wire!
- Magnetic keys (and switches that detect them) can take a custom label as well as a colour - both colour and label must match to trigger the switch.
- When tweaking a magnetic key, or devices that respond to magnetic keys, the game shows up ranges / angles etc. for all of the other devices that respond to the same keys.
- Magnetic keys can be turned on / off via switch.
- Magnetic switches and proximity switches can be configured to activate above a threshold - i.e. you can have a switch that activates when three or more sackpeople are in range.
- Magnetic switches (possibly proximity switches too) can be limited to specific layers.
- Signal type is determined at destination, not source. This allows for multiple signal types from a single device. So a magnetic switch could output speed to a wheel and on/off to an LED.
- Wiring is neater and less ugly. It already has improved routing, but in the final game it should be greatly improved, making the construction of complex systems far less messy.
- Emitters can now emit at 0.0s intervals, which makes them emit as soon as there is a free space.
- An optional tweak stops the emitter from emitting when it reaches its max at once value.
- Emitter can ignore parent's velocity, so the emitted object does not take into account the movement of the object that it is attached to.
- Have effects for emit and destroy, including:
- Explode - Note: the explosion is just aesthetic, does no damage.
- Appear / disappear - vanishes with no sound.
- Dissolve - as in LBP1
- Shrink / Grow
- You can link emitters to an object in the level, rather than something in your popit (although that is still an option).
- Any changes to the object in the level are reflected in all emitters that reference it.
- It works with nested emitters, so emitters inside emitters inside emitters, will update all of them with any changes made.
- When done editing you can delete the object in the level and the emitter remembers the last version.
- It's awesome!
Cameras and Magic Mouths
- The camera can now be pulled out far further.
- The camera can be rotated in the plane of the screen, so the view can be turned on its side or even completely upside down. This can also be controlled by having the camera on a rotating object (i.e. a vehicle or similar).
- You can add activation times to cutscene cameras and magic mouths so that they close after a given time.
- Magic mouths and cutscene cameras have output switches, so you can detect when the player has closed them, to open the next object or trigger timed events.
- The custscene cameras have a whole host of cinematic options.
- Changes to angle / zoom
- Fades and other transition effects.
- Camera shake effects.
- The cutscene camera also lets you choose whether the player can interact (or whether they are frozen in place), if they can then you can use the cutscene camera as normal gameplay camera and integrate visual effects into your gameplay.
- There is a tweak for "flatness", to make the level more like front view in create mode.
- It is possible for each player to have their own camera when playing online (no splitscreen was evident).
Camera on its side. Also, vacuum material (see below) for the space-sacks.
- Loads more sounds available than in the original game.
- Volume control on individual sounds is supported.
- A tweak that allows the sound to be heard no matter where in the level it is.
- Reverb (and possibly other effects as well) can be added to sounds.
- Global sound tool has been added - allows global control of sound volumes (music vs sfx) and also globally apply sound filters to everything in the level.
- New lighting engine looks great.
- Lights now have far more colour options available.
- Fogginess is a percentage scale now, rather than on / off.
The new lighting effects are outstanding.
These are a massive improvement on the current piston-based bounce pads we have. The distance they fire you is tweakable and very accurate / consistent. In addition, they don't have any kind of reset time, so 2 Sackpeople hitting in rapid succession will both be fired the same distance. It doesn't sound like much on paper, but they really do make a big difference to high-speed bouncy gameplay.
- Grappling hook - no tweaks, for consistency, but player can grapple anything grabbable and also control the length of the line whilst swinging (between preset min/max)
- Creatinator (Possibly the rumoured "magic bag", we're unsure) - effectively an emitter gun. Has all the options of the new emitters and can be aimed much like the paintenator. Looks like a helmet with a flashlight on it Note that the creator is responsible for choosing the emitted object.
- Power Gloves - allows the player to pick up objects, carry them above their head and throw them. Also allows the player to swap layers whilst holding the object and take it with them.
These are all non-physical and can be placed inside microchips.
- Basic logic gates: NOT/AND/OR/XOR - ANDs and ORs can take a variable number of inputs.
- Battery - just outputs a constant full signal.
- Toggle - inverts output each time and input is given.
- Timer - can be used to output speed / strength proportional to its current value. Can be reset.
- Selector - cycles through its outputs each time activated. Can also take overrides to jump to specific outputs.
- Counter switch - increments each time it it activated up to a max value. Can be reset as well.
- Randomiser - This is very versatile with a large number of options to vary up the randomisation pattern.
- Splitters (unsure of name) - allows a bi-directional signal (i.e. from a three way switch or analogue stick) to be split into 2 signals.
- Combiners (unsure of name) - allows two signals to be combined into a bi-directional signal.
These are all non-physical and can be placed inside microchips.
- Magic Joystick - hard to explain, but can be used to map an analogue stick to a rotational mover (see movers below) so that if you push up and right, the object points up and right.
- Anti-gravity device - allows objects to be unaffected by gravity (or partially affected by gravity). Also has a variable dampening tweak which will slow the object down as it moves, preventing it from flying off into the distance.
- Movers - see section below
- Collision Switch - Activates on any collision, or can be tweaked to only activate when hitting sackpeople, or when hitting an object which has a specified magnetic key (matches both colour and label).
- Material tweaker - allows you to change the friction and bounciness of the object it is attached to. Also allows the object to be made indestructible (so excessive force will not crush it).
- Lethaliser - allows object to be made lethal / not lethal at will.
- Smoke machine - tweakable colour and intensity - gives far better effect than the current jet.
- Score switch - can give or take away scores. Engine does a good job of detecting which player triggered it (when triggered by logic network) for competitive scoring.
- Score detection - Will activate when the score is above a certain value.
- Global sound object - vary music / sound etc. global controls, and also various global effects to be applied to all sound in the level.
- Global gravity object - allows for altering of gravity.
- End switch - ends the level instantly.
- Notes - Just little text notes to allow for comments.
- Also, not a tool, but there is a light source that is non-physical (note we're unsure exactly how this interacts with decorations / microchips etc.).
Points switch in action; point values are tweak-able.
There is a new category of tools called the "movers", which literally move objects about. They come in two broad types - linear and rotational. Both have simple variants that move the object in a specified direction, but can be switch controlled (on/off, speed, strength control), through to more complex versions. If you combine movers with anti-gravity devices, you can gain incredibly precise, complex control over contraptions for top-down dynamics and flying machines, etc. We spent loads of time playing with these and the possibilities are endless, hence why there is so much detail in this section.
The linear movers are controlled by x and y speeds and also have speed, acceleration, and deceleration properties. x and y are normally the x and y directions for the level, but it is possible to tweak them so that x and y are relative to the orientation of the object. The difference between these two modes is how the mover responds to the object being rotated. There are also follow devices, which can be used to follow (or flee from) a player or magnetic key. Maximum range to follow can be set, as can minimum range - so your object will stop if it gets too close. You can even get the follower to be locked into a single axis (so it only follows horizontally for instance). There is also a magic rocket device, which simulates the existing jet object, but as a non-physical tool that can be compacted down into microchips etc.
The rotational movers rotate the object, as with linear movers there are speed, acceleration and deceleration tweaks. Similar to the follow object, there is a "look at player" device, which will point itself at the player, or at a magnetic key. This gives very smooth aiming mechanisms. There is also the gyroscope tool which will attempt to keep an object upright by rotating it back to vertical - again, this can be tweaked to modify how well it corrects and can also be switch controlled.
There is also a special mover, for shifting objects between layers. This is what is used in the trailer to make the wheel move out and what is used to make the little top-down racers work on ramps. Note that all objects are still locked into the existing layers - when you move it back a layer, the movement happens instantly as far as physics is concerned, but visually the object takes a short period to shift. You cannot stop an object between the layers so the game is very much still 2.5D.
Most of the movers can take one or more inputs, and a disable / enable signal which can be used to neatly override them.
Direct Control chairs
- Every button is mapped, bar R3, start, select and the PS button.
- Also the sixaxis is fully mapped.
- Full analogue outputs (optionally).
- Trigger radius can be tweaked (player is prompted to enter seat when within radius).
- You can make the player automatically (force them to) enter the seat when within the trigger radius.
- You can disable the players popit and their ability to leave the seat.
- Player in the seat is still detected by proximity sensors.
- Can map player popit colour to objects controlled by the DCS (lights / vacuum material etc).
In LBP2, the microchip is a single place where you can compress all your logic down into a single device. What we found was that just about anything that you can stick onto the side of an object - including sounds, sensors, all the new logic tools, collision detection, gyroscopes, even emitters - can all be placed in a microchip. Microchips can even be placed inside one another!
For things whose positioning is important (i.e. magnetic switches and emitters), these are considered to exist at the point that the microchip exists, which means you can organize them however you want inside the microchip circuitboard making everything neater. When tweaking them, the engine shows the tweaking as though the object exists at the point of the microchip. For things that affect the object that they are on - material property changers, lethaliser, anti-gravity etc. - it is the object that the microchip is attached to that they affect. This effect works through multiple levels of microchip as well.
You can also wire-control the microchip to disable / enable everything inside it. This means that you can effectively have 2 microchips with different programming and just switch between the two very easily, which is fantastic for control systems and AI.
- Tweak whether the sackbot can switch layers.
- Tweak whether they are afraid of hazards and heights.
- Tweak how fast they are.
- Tweak whether they can use Direct Control Seats.
- Recording player movements as we are aware.
- Replay of movements can either happen once, loop from where the sackbot finished, or you can tell the sackbot to return to where it started before looping.
- Various simple behaviours and animation styles allow for quick customisation.
- Setting sackbot to follow does a pretty good job of following over basic platforming.
- If sackbot is following and enters direct control seat, it will attempt to follow, as long as the control system isn't too complex.
- You can use simple action triggers as well as user-recorded / default behaviours - includes run, jump & grab.
- Loads of new materials, including the hairy / fluffy ones etc.
- Light material - the floor from the disco in the trailer. Has the same extended colour range as normal lights and is switch controllable.
- Vacuum material (see below).
- Animated materials, can have the animation speed tweaked.
- Filter materials - can be placed in front of objects and everything behind them is filtered.
- Retro Neon Green outlines on black background.
- Possibly more to come.
Light Material on display.
Worth mentioning on its own is the vacuum material, which looks a lot like a holograph. Visually it looks pretty cool - it is lit up without actually casting out any light and has a translucency as well as an animated texture. Colour is tweakable to all of the new colors available for lights, and the brightness can also be tweaked - turning the brightness down to 0 will make it completely invisible and up to full will make it intensely bright and opaque. It's also possible to control its color/intensity by switch - on / off and "fade" are the options - fade allows you to control it in an analogue manner. However, you can tweak the colour and brightness for both on and off states, so you could fade between visible and invisible, or between two different, visible colors, etc.
You can also modify the transparency by using stickers - dark colours will make the area less visible and light colours will be more visible. This also works with gradient stickers and custom stickers, so the customisation possibilities of trasparency fades etc. are fantastic.
The ability to switch it on and off and the brightness of it makes it perfect for retro-style effects and for designing custom HUDs / player interfaces. At this point it is worth noting that there is not a default customisable HUD - it's all created by you. That said, Christophe at MM showed us the RTS level he's made, which is mind blowing - you can place buildings and spawn units, select them, tell them where to go etc. so the scope for HUDs is fantastic, and Johnee has made some levels out of purely vacuum (giving cool retro visuals), which are mindblowing.
Thin, pink vacuum over thick, translucent purple vacuum. Gives a nice effect.
Physically it is similar to gas (although it can exist as a thin layer) - it is unaffected by gravity and does not collide with anything. However, you can make it so that when it overlaps with other objects, it triggers collision switches. This is great for weapons etc, but is also very useful as you can create a custom shaped magnetic key detection area using this vaccum material. Both visually and in terms of your logic, vacuum is almost certainly going to become one of the most significant things in the new game.
The entire Community system will be given a complete overhaul. Tags are being redone in an effort to ensure they are meaningful. You will be able to search for individual tags this time around as well. The creator may assign tags themselves with far greater weighting than the players. Players can improve their weighting by writing quality reviews (other people vote upon how useful the review is) either in game or on LBP.me. Simply yea / nay style voting, so no one person can skew the average. On LBP.me you can heart a person and then get a twitter-esque feed of the levels they have hearted and reviewed. Through all of these improvements, it now becomes advantageous to heart players with good taste as well, even if they aren't skilled creators themselves.
There will also be an Mm "seal of approval" for levels that get into Mm picks.
MM are hoping to be involved with the moderation and greatly improve the moderation system.
So, there is a lot to take in, and of course this is just an overview of individual features. I'm sure most of you are aware that it's the interplay between the tools that will really open up the possibilities in LittleBigPlanet 2, as it is with LittleBigPlanet now. Based on our 27 hours with an early build of the game, all of us have been blown away by the scope of what will be possible when we get our hands on the game proper. Indeed, what we achieved in this short period of time is clearly a testament to how powerful the new tools are. Not only has the scope been massively increased, but the ease and swiftness with which it takes to create complex things with the editor has improved in kind. Even creators who tend to stick to art and steer away from contraptions were able to quickly create thoroughly enjoyable gameplay mechanics that would be almost impossible to achieve with the current tools.
But it’s not only the new tools that improve create mode. Just about every existing tool has new features and tweaks that make the mind race with the possibilities that are available. At the same time, the new interface also adds a number of subtle new changes that make the creation experience many times smoother than the original LittleBigPlanet.
There is no doubt in my mind: this game is going to be awesome