Interview conducted by xkappax
The year is 20XX and Dr. Dimo has taken over the world with his robot bosses. Do you have what it takes to stop the evil inventor and save the world from his mechanized creations? To be honest, probably not. Or at least not right away.
See, Dimo's levels are hard. And not stupid hard like a level that hasn't been tested properly. Hard like Mega Man 9. Each stage in Mega Man 9 was punishing, but once you beat it, you felt absolutely wonderful and proud of yourself. I know I did, at least. Dimo's levels are like that. Each platforming element is extremely harsh, but you are able to get past it with a little patience and practice. Levels like these most certainly won't appeal to your average cool leveler who just wants to smash rocket cars into bombs, but that was never Dimo's target audience, anyway. These levels appeal to the gamers who suffered through old '80's Nintendo games that were unforgivably hard on purpose so the player has to keep coming back for more. The games would take longer to beat and it would justify paying 50 dollars for a game, because of how much time you took to pass it.
So, if you guys are up for the challenge, let's all go on a Robo Rampage and explore Dr. Dimo1138 and his robotic creations!
I forgot to water the plant, and THIS is what happened!
All right, this one isnít really a question, but if you would be so kind, please list the levels youíve published to date and any statistics youíd like to share with us, i.e. plays, hearts, how many rocket animals per level, etc. Whatever you feel like sharing.
My first levels are Robo-Rampage, Robo-Rampage II Ė Dr.Dimoís Great Escape, and Robo-Rampage III Ė Dr. Dimoís Last Stand. These were the first levels I had made. Theyíre a little rough around the edges, and they are VERY difficult. I only suggest these for those who have finished the Robo-Rampage X series that want a little bit more of the back story.
After that, as soon as the paintinator was released, I made Robo-Rampage X and Robo-Rampage X 2. These levels were a significant improvement over my previous attempts, and by this time, my sense of LBP aesthetics had improved as well. Again, these levels are intentionally difficult, but highly rewarding when completed.
At this point, I had all but given up on LBP for a lot of reasons. Untill, that is, I heard about LBP2. At that point I decided to go all-out, and bring the RRX series to an epic finale. I teamed up with a good LBP friend of mine, Vmethos, and started work on my most recent project, RRX3, which consists of the following levels: Robo-Rampage X 3 (part 1), Robo-Rampage X 3 (part 2), Robo-Rampage X 3 (part 3), Robo-Rampage X 3 (?????),Robo-Rampage X 3 (final) and Robo-Rampage X 3 (final part 2).
And, riding the high that gave me, I popped out a quick mini-level, Robo-Rampage X 3 (prologue).
Now, tell me... of these levels, which is your favorite? And why?
All the levels of RRX 3 are among my favorites. Theyíre the most technically and aesthetically sound. RRX 3 (final) and (final part 2) are up there, as theyíre both huge boss-fights, which is my favorite thing to make. RRX3 (prologue) is also up there. Itís got a great look, and a really cool boss.
How long have you been playing LBP?
How long has it been out?
What was the first full level you ever built? And what was it like?
My first full level was Robo-Rampage. It had some cool things going for it, but, honestly, itís kind of a mess. But, whoís first level ever isnít?
What creators and levels (if any) have inspired you to create?
Well, thereís not a whole lot of creators out there that really do the same style of stuff I do, so no one in particular inspired specific creations, but there definitely were a few people that inspired me to create, in general, even at times when I wanted to quit. My levels always got kind of a bad rap because of the difficulty level, but there were a few people that supported what I was doing, and, really, if it werenít for them,I may not have done anything beyond my first level. Among those are my long-time LBP friends: Vmethos (created RRX 3 (?????) for me), Foofles, Maraz Matari, Grantos UK and a talented creator duo, xKappax and Catiers, among others. And, of course, there were a few people I met here at LBPC that were really inspirational, like Ccubbage and Ninjamicwz, just to name a few. And, frankly, thereís a few people that, though weíve never met in person, have become good personal friends of mine, beyond the LBP realm, for whom I am eternally gratefull. You guys know who you are
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.
When it comes to LBP, I make the games that I want to play. Iím probably a bit older than a lot of LBPers. My first home gaming console was an Atari 2600, and I still, to this day, think that the days of the NES/SuperNES were the pinnacle of gaming. That being said, I wanted to re-capture, in a way, the ďolden daysĒ of gaming where a game had to rely on gameplay over graphics and a high challenge level was needed for replayability.
What are some of your favorite video games (excluding LBP) - new and old?
My favorite games, in a nutshell, are the original Mega-Man games and the Legend of Zelda series. These days, though, I donít play a lot of video-games. I feel that most developers arenít making games for people like me anymore, so I stick to mainly just LBP when it comes to console games. I also like a lot of non-video-games, like MtG. Anything where you have to exercise your mind and outsmart your opponent.
If you could list your favorite things about LittleBigPlanet, what would they be?
Create mode, and the awesome people Iíve met from the LBP community.
And your least favorite thing(s)?
To be frank, the general population of LBP sometimes ticks me off. So many people are trying to make LBP levels, instead of making their own games and ideas. I also think that, when it comes to the community, we have a good grasp on only two thirds of what it means to be an LBPer. People, in general, have a good grasp on Create and Share, but I feel that Play is lacking. Any other game that people play, they try to get better at or master, no matter how challenging. But I feel that, with LBPers in general, they canít be bothered to actually master the gameplay and control. If itís slightly harder than easy, people canít be bothered. I think thatís my biggest complaint. I just donít understand why people in general avoid challenge when it comes to LBP. This is particularly frustrating to me because I intentionally build challenging levels, and Iím continuously getting poor ratings because LBP payers just canít play. But, I suppose two out of three aint badÖ
Whatís the worst thing thatís happened while creating?
Man, thereís been a few scares, but the one that sticks out in my mind is, shortly after I published RRX2, the level was unloadable. I freaked out for a bit untill I realized that, somehow, a magic mouth I tweaked messed up the level. Once I knew what the problem was, it was a quick fix, but it certainly was scary for a bit, after all that work, to have the level be unloadable for other players.
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?
Hrmm. No, nothing major, really. Maybe a few enemy designs I found to be impractical, but nothing huge. And, now with the LBP2 tools, I can go back to them and give them the life they couldnít have had in LBP.
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.
Giving me a crown, lol. Just kidding. I donít know, I think for the most part, MM is doing a phenominal job. Sure, thereís some issues, like H4H and the Cool Levels page being filled with uncreative, poorly implemented non-sense. But, LBP, as a whole, is still very young, and I trust that MM is going to do everything they can to progress the LBP experience. If you had asked me this before I had gotten into the LBP2 beta, I would have had a list, but LBP2 seems, so far, to have everything anyone could want, at least for the time being. Awesome and varied materials, and cool effective new tools.
Dimo's insane boss battles are what set him apart from many creators in LittleBigPlanet
You've been doing the Robo Rampage series since the very first days of LittleBigPlanet, back in 2008. Do you have any interest in doing levels that follow a different theme, or do you feel you'll continue on with Robo Rampage in the future?
Iím definitely into doing something different. With LBP2 around the bend, it opens up a lot of options. Thatís said, I will continue to make levels with the established Robo-Rampage themes.
We've already established that your levels are really hard. A lot of players, to counter that, place Infinite Check Points in their levels, but you haven't, not even in your newer levels. Do you think you might ever give in and make "Easy Mode" versions of Robo Rampage at some point?
Simple answer: I donít think so. The levels are as they were intended. Though, the thought has crossed my mind more than once. Again, with LBP2 on the horizon, there will be more creative means of adjusting the difficulty.
Your boss battles are very interesting and extremely innovative. Most of your bosses even have several different forms or states. What goes into creating these boss battles and getting them to perform the way you want them to?
Bosses are one of my favorite parts of the gaming experience. Games like Zelda and Mega-Man have bosses that, in one way or another, you need to figure out and exploit a weakness. Itís not necessarily just run ní gun. On the other hand, there is something to be said about a Contra style boss-fight. Quick reflexes, accurate aim and patience. I try to bring a combination of the two, and the future is looking brighter, in terms of the possibilities.
On a similar subject, your little characters that scurry about the levels trying to kill you are also quite unique. I've always thought that the little descriptions that go with these enemies was a nice touch. It gives the enemies a bit more depth and personality. What made you decide to do this, and how much thought goes into these little descritpions?
Well, I usually donít have the thermo space or time to focus on creating ďstoryĒ type content. I fit it in where I can (RRX 3 final and final part 2 are fair examples of the extent of the actually story line). Despite the story aspects of my levels being very slim, thatís not to say there isnít a world surrounding these levels. By showing that these robots have likes and disikes shows that theyíre more than just ďbaddies.Ē Theyíre just following bad programming, and some of them even openly express thier dislike or indifference to their task of killing you. So, when it comes to the enemy text itself, I usually try to get a sense of the above. Either that, or I use a pun.
You recently did a collaboration with the very underrated and very talented Vmethos. Up until that point, you had been strictly a solo creator, so what was it like suddenly working with someone else on the Robo Rampage series?
I absolutely loved working with Vmethos. Maybe too much, I may have ran up his phone bill. I have a tough time finding compatable people to collaborate with in general. Trust is very important when it comes to something youíve invested time in. Out of everyone I knew, Vmethos was the obvious choice. He had been playing RR levels since the beginning, and I knew he had a really good sense of what I was trying to accomplish. From playing his stuff, I knew he had the technical knowledge and the sense of aesthetics to make something amazing. What he brought to the RRX series was far beyond my expectations. Truly amazing work. You can see it in RRX 3 (?????), if you can find it
In LittleBigPlanet, there are two kinds of "Hard" levels. There are the "stupid hard" levels that just have bullets and bomb-sharks flying haphazardly all over the place, and there are the "challenging hard" levels. This is the category that your levels fall into. There are WAYS to get past all of your enemies with a bit of strategy. Does it take a long time to work this sort of thing out? How do you approach something like this?
I usually get an idea for a trap, obstacle, or enemy, build it, and test it. I know how far sack boy can jump from a running start, a standing start, etc. I know how fast he can move, and how quickly he can build momentum. I know how he reacts to most possibe situations. I usually make something so itís just barely possible, and then bring it back a few shades. I figure, if I can do it very easily, then it should provide an appropriate challenge to the more casual player, or someone that may not know ďwhatís coming.Ē Sometimes this is easier than others. And some times, it may prove more difficult to make a concept more challengeing.
The number 5 plays a very big role in the second level of Robo Rampage X3, and I've heard it's a great story. So, spill it. What's the significance of the number 5?
I couldn't say. Next question.
Your levels have always been very Mega Man-esque in nature, yet LittlebigPlanet lacked a proper gun until December of 2008. What sort of challenges did you face trying to create Mega Man style levels in pre-gun LBP?
I try not to think of those days. Thatís part of the reason why I ended the original series and started Robo-Rampage X. The paintinator changed everything. Not to say the older levels arenít worth playing, just expect a different experience. They are rather primitive.
Color scheme and theme both play a big part in your levels. What comes first, choosing a theme or choosing the colors that will represent that theme? And how do you go about doing this?
I usually do this in a similar way to the way I do most everything. Muck around with a bunch of crap that I donít like untill I find a combination of materials and colors that I do like. I usually like to mix ďroboticĒ themes and colors with more natural themes and colors, like rocks and water. Lighting can be important, as well.
You've been working with the beta for a little while and probably have a good understanding of the tools by now. With this knowledge, what are your plans for LittleBigPlanet 2?
Well, I donít want to say too much, because thereís no saying how much Iím actually thinking of will get done. Iím planning on continuing the Robo-Rampage games in a new series called RobotXplodeR (RXR), which will feature a custom weapons system, unlockable abilities, more advanced enemies and bosses, and tons more neat stuff. The story of the game will take place years after a ďrobot civil war.Ē Using that theme as a backdrop, I plan on doing some different types of games to fill in the storyline between the end of RRX 3 and the beginning of RXR. Most likely something top down, and most likely something more strategy or puzzle based.
And now, a lighthearted question... and BE HONEST. Since your levels are so gosh darned hard, do you have a hard time completing them at first?
lol. Ok, so after not playing for a while after making RRX2, I finally came back to LBP. I decided to play through my old levels for inspiration, and there were a few points where I was cursing myself for being such an anti-social prick. So, yeah, sometimes I have a hard time. That said, I can still finish all of my levels, most of the time. RRX3 part 1 is the only level Iíve made myself that Iíve been able to ace.
Finally, is there anything you, as a creator, would like to add to this? Or any other experiences youíd like to share? If not, Iíd 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?
My advice to all creators is: Make the levels YOU want to play. BE what YOU want to see more of in the community. If you tailor your levels to simply get hearts, stars and/or approval, you limit your own creative output, and potentially deny the community of some truly amazing creations.
Also, in celebration of this honor of being highlighted, and to prove Iím not a total villian, I am going to UNLOCK ALL ROBO-RAMPAGE X 3 LEVELS on the publication date of this interview! I suggest you still play them in order, and try to find all the secrets. Enjoy!
This guy stole BoxGhost's lunch. This means war!
Great Scott! It's awful! The crew has a Spotlight due this weekend, and they're not done with it! If only they had a little bit more time... and perhaps a shiny DeLorean!
And for those of you with shiny iPhones and iPads, the direct link is here!
So, let's have a short recap, shall we? Awesome visuals, insanely hard, but extremely fun gameplay, and giant robots. Sure, hard levels might not be for everyone, but come on! Who DOESN'T love giant robots? I'm going to be honest with you. You're going to die. Alot. But once you get past the fact that Dimo doesn't spoonfeed his gameplay to players, I think you can appreciate how much work goes into one of these RoboRampage levels. So, pull up a chair, charge your blaster... erm... I mean, your controller, and get ready to take on Dr. Dimo in a fight to save man- and robotkind!
Dimo1138's lbp.me profile: http://lbp.me/u/Dimo1138
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!