Interview conducted by xkappax
I think it is safe to say that anyone who knows me knows of my love of 3 things: crystals, ghosts and caves. That being said, it will come as no surprise that someone like me would want to spotlight someone like javi_haguse. Why? Because javi_haguse is not just GOOD at making caves. He is the master of all things subterranean, creating some of the most striking cave scenes that I have ever seen in LittleBigPlanet. But that's not the only thing that javi_haguse excels at. Javi is an artist, blending beautifully colored lights to bring his rocky scenes to life, with a lighting style that puts him right up there with lighting masters such as Morgana25 and Nattura. But don't just take my word for it. Put on your spelunking gear and we'll delve into the depths of javi_haguse's creative genius.
Should BoxGhost really be trusted with a gun of that size?
All right, this one isn’t really a question, but if you would be so kind, please list the levels you’ve published to date and any statistics you’d like to share with us, i.e. plays, hearts, how many rocket animals per level, etc. Whatever you feel like sharing.
The Descent 2
(All of them have been Spotlighted! woot woot)
Now, tell me... of these levels, which is your favorite? And why?
I would have to say Security Breach. This is by far my best level and I had a blast creating it. Also, this level has a bit of history since it’s technically a remake. The second level that I ever created shared the same name and concept… but it was kinda bad lol. So after finishing The Descent 2, I went back to Security Breach “just” to redesign a bridge, and ended up with an entire new level… go figure!
How long have you been playing LBP?
Actually, I’m not quite sure! I remember that my brother bought it for himself when it was fairly new. As time went by, little by little, I took it away from him … I think he doesn’t remember it’s his. Lol!
What was the first full level you ever built? And what was it like?
Ugh... my first level ever published and created was called ‘Navy SEAL Boot Camp’. At the time, everyone was making little obstacle courses, and I thought that the Navy would be a good theme. It was basically just jump and grab platforming with a hint of annoying, lol. This level led to ‘Security Breach’, which was a more “elite” boot camp kinda place
What creators and levels (if any) have inspired you to create?
Well, the first level that left me breathless was Dead Space by Darknessbear. After playing this level I knew I just had to create a horror level, and so The Descent was born. But I would have to say that the creator that has inspired me the most is mrsupercomputer. I’ve sat for hours with this guy just planning levels and ideas. I’d say if it wasn’t for him and comphermc, I would’ve stopped playing a long time ago. Other creators that I can’t leave out are Anposteller, Nattura and Wexfordian.
Aside from drawing inspiration from other creators and levels, is there anything in the world outside of LittleBigPlanet that inspires you? This could be a hobby, profession, or even a particular movie or type of music. Pretty much it can be anything in your personal life that has contributed to your experiences as well as inspired you as a creator.
I actually work as a graphic designer for a winery but I’m an engineering student. Weird combination, I know. So the graphic designer part obviously comes in play. I’m very keen on what colors to use and how lights reflect on different areas. Obviously I also have to mention movies, too, since The Descent was based on the movie.
What are some of your favorite video games (excluding LBP) - new and old?
Well, my first-ever online game was COD4 and I was addicted to that for a while! I’m also a great fan of the MGS series, FIFA games and some Super Nintendo Classics like ‘Zelda: a Link to the Past’ and ‘Harvest Moon’. I’m all over the place!
If you could list your favorite things about LittleBigPlanet, what would they be?
In my case, I just love the versatility of it! I obviously love creating, but the good thing is that once you’re tired or uninspired, you can always go and play millions of levels in the community. You can’t beat that!
And your least favorite thing(s)?
Hmm… let’s see. I hate that when I’m using the Corner Tool and I’m trying to grid something, and it moves slightly off to the side for no reason. Oh! And when people destroy your creations with a big block of metal in Create Mode! (I’m looking at you, Cin)
What’s the worst thing that’s happened while creating?
Well, I’ve had bad history with both versions of Security Breach. When I made the original, when I was pretty much done, everything unglued for some reason. Once I started remaking it, I reached the 160 hr. glitch! I reached that glitch again in the new level, too. Yea, good times…
On a sort of similar subject, have there ever been any great ideas you had that failed or for any other reason you never implemented?
I remember I once tried creating a level like ‘Simplexity’ but I just wasn’t feeling it. Also, a long time ago, I tried creating an actual hovercraft, but failed miserably.
If you worked for Media Molecule, what would your first order of business be? This could be anything from adding materials or tools to eradicating H4H.
There are a few things on my list! I would like to be able to hide layers and objects for easy editing. Also, I would love to be able to copy and paste settings for motors, pistons, etc. Making a Water Pouring tool would be great too. This would be able to pour water as a material in any layer that you want. I would also like to see the Mm picks implemented in-game.
I'm standing on a rope! HALP!
I'm sure that, based on the setting of your levels, you'll see this question coming from a mile away, but seriously: What is the deal with you and caves? :P
Hahaha! I don’t really know! I think it’s because I really like the Basic Metal material. I just love the texture of it and how light reflects on it. It’s truly a mystery why I always end up making caves. After The Descent 2, I said I was done with caves… and then I made that abandoned Mining Facility in SB with a CAVE… the ironic part of it is that I’m a bit claustrophobic
In reading your level threads, I keep seeing the word "atmosphere" when describing your strong points, and I have to agree completely. I will never forget playing your Descent 2 level late at night with my friend (ironically named Sarah). We were about halfway through the level and she just blurted out "Oh my gosh! This level is REALLY scary!" And she's right. It is not easy to create a horror atmosphere in a game that is normally so cutesie and happy. What are some techniques you use to achieve this sort of "impending doom" atmosphere?
Well, I believe that what scares people the most is uncertainty. It doesn’t matter how creepy of a character you create, people are not going to be scared of it. So your best bet is to raise the tension by having the player not know what’s coming next. It’s tricky cause it all depends how you raise it. In The Descent Series, I tried starting with little to no tension, and then little by little raise it with off-screen sounds and shadows. That’s the main reason why you didn’t get to see the monsters in Part 1. Another great tool, in my opinion, is silence. Taking away the music and just adding little ‘eerie sounds’ at different levels throughout the level, really help create this “impending doom” atmosphere you talk about.
As I said in the introduction to this article, when it comes to lighting, you're up there with the best. Why is lighting so important to you? Are there any other creators that have inspired your lighting technique, or is it something that you just learned all on your own?
I do love lighting! It’s definitely one of the main things I focus on when I’m building a level… who needs gameplay anyways! I think people don’t use lighting to its full potential, you can do so much with it! I tried making it an interactive plot point in The Descent series, and the entire atmosphere in Security Breach is thanks to the ol’ trusty LED. A lot of it has been trial and error, but I’m surely inspired by creators like Anposteller, Aurongel and Nattura. Those 3 should be in the definition of atmosphere!
I've been told that there are many little inside jokes in Security Breach, including a cameo from comphermc's girlfriend. What other little Easter Eggs should we hope to find in Security Breach, or any other javi_haguse level?
Lol yea! That was hilarious… at least for me! Comphermc and mrsupercomputer helped me out a lot during the entire process, so I thought they deserved a bit more than just a “thanks”. Adding Sgt. Kelly, Comphy’s gf, was a hassle, since he was always snooping in while I was building. So the plan was to add Kelly at the last minute. Mrsupercomputer and I even created a fake instructor (codenamed: Kenny) so that Compher wouldn’t suspect anything. It was a success! Another reference to Comphermc is the “Aperture Labs” sticker in the mining facility, which refers to his Aperture Science series. As for mrSC, I named General Simms based on his last name (Simmons). Also, on the main screen at the Control Room, there’s pics of us 3 as “most wanted”. There’s also a cutout of both of them posing somewhere hidden in the level… but I’m not telling where! I would also recommend you check the computer screens throughout the level… there’s some funny stuff there
When preparing this interview, you sent me a mockup of one of your levels. It's very rare for me to hear about a creator planning things out on paper. Some creators sketch things out here and there, and then there are creators like me that just throw stuff down any which way and pray it sticks. That being said, could you please explain your planning process a bit? What sort of things do you do before you are ready to begin building the actual level?
To tell you the truth, I really admire people that can just create and see what happens. I definitely have to plan ahead, I can’t just build! So I first have to come up with the basic story, imagine some nice set-pieces and then a cliffhanger ending. I kinda create levels by “sections” and then I wing it in between. I also found out that mock-ups really help me. Not only to see colors and materials (like the one I sent you) but you can also use them as blue prints. For all my future levels, I’m planning on doing little mock-ups of everything… maybe that will help me build faster!
From what I understand, your level "The Descent" is based on a movie from 2006 of the same name. I never saw the movie, but I heard it is essentially about a bunch of people who get trapped in a cave. As they try to escape, strange monsters begin to stalk them in the darkness. Is your level a remake of this movie or is it an homage to the film it shares its name with?
Well, when I decided I was going to do a horror level, I had just watched The Descent Movie. It was basically a bunch of girls that went to an unexplored cave and got trapped. While looking for an exit, they discover that a bunch of monsters lived down there… and they were hungry! What I liked the most about the movie was that they only used the lights from the hardhats to show the way. So they played a lot with shadows and sounds, my kind of stuff! So the series was based on it, but it really doesn’t follow the story in the movie.
Now, this is a question that I'm sure has been asked of you many, many times, so let's get it right out in the open. You are a brilliant creator with a fantastic style, yet you only have three levels. I don't think this is a problem per se, quality over quantity and all, but why does it take so long for you to produce a level? Can you speak about a bit of what goes into your process and perhaps some of the problems you have encountered along the way?
Ugh… I do take forever! I think it all boils down to the fact that I take this game lightly. I like playing little dumb levels with friends, joke around in create mode… pretty much just have fun! I see it as the complete opposite of work: I have no due dates, I don’t have to do it… when it’s done it’s done! Then on top of that, as I mentioned before, I over plan a lot! So add those 2 together, and you end up with 3 levels
What does the future hold for javi_haguse? Are we going to see a Descent 3 in the near future, or possibly Security breach 2?
Yes and yes! These are two levels that I already have planned out in the back of my mind. After finishing Security Breach, I was planning to start right away with the sequel. But then the news of LBP2 came out… so yea. Going by my record, I don’t think I would finish it by the time LBP2 get in stores. But who knows, I’m pretty impulsive so I might start it anyways. As for Descent 3, I do think that I should definitely wait for LBP2 for this one. All the new cinematic controls and better graphics will hopefully make it much scarier!
And now... a lighthearted question: How much do you bribe the building code inspectors when they come around to check the safety of the structures in your levels? Because seriously, it always seems stairs are falling apart or radio towers are crashing down. That can't be safe for anyone involved!
Hahaha! Don’t worry, I require everyone that joins me in Create Mode to wear a hardhat. Safe enough? Luckily the code inspector was a fan of Zephyr Valley and mrSC just had to sign a few autographs!
Finally, is there anything you, as a creator, would like to add to this? Or any other experiences you’d like to share? If not, I’d like to ask one more question of you: If you could give any bit of advice to new creators out there who are thinking about entering the wonderful world of creating, what would it be?
Well, I would say have fun! A lot of people take this too seriously and sometimes forget that this is just a game. Just try to do your best and be proud of your work!
Extremely detailed war room scene in Security Breach
Before we go into this video segment, I want to introduce our two new members of our team, Chimpanzee and Leather-Monkey! These two went above and beyond to make this video happen after several unfortunate circumstances, and we're overjoyed to have them aboard. Just to remind you guys, we are still taking applications for video editors and recorders, so you can go on and keep sending them in! And now, without further ado, the Creator Rewind!
Some of the most beautiful sights to behold are the carefully carved limestone caverns of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. But these cathedral-like works of natural art were not formed in a day. In fact, it takes an average stalactite or stalagmite 3,000 years to grow a mere six inches. The same can be said about javi’s levels. It takes time to make the carefully sculpted works of art that he calls his levels.
That being said, this concludes our tour of the wonderful world of javi_haguse. I hope you enjoyed your journey. Mind your head as you exit the caverns, there are some low ceilings! And watch your backs, for you never know what lurks in the dark caverns of javi_haguse's imagination.
Well, that's all, folks! We hope you have enjoyed this installment of the Creator Spotlight. For past spotlights, please visit this link. See you in two weeks!